Daily dietary fiber consumption is important because it helps promote regular bowel movements, helps control blood sugar, aids in satiation (fullness), optimizes gut + immune health (did you know they are connected ) and reduces the risk of cardiovascular-related complications. Fiber is found exclusively in the plant kingdom and is made up of two types:
- Soluble – dissolves in water and becomes gel-like.
- Insoluble – non-digestible and moves through your colon intact.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber are important for digestion! Soluble fiber helps you feel full for longer after you eat by slowing digestion. It does this by slowing down the rate at which nutrients are broken down and absorbed, including carbs, so that they don’t drastically raise your blood sugar. Therefore, it helps stabilize post-prandial blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes. Soluble fiber also prevents some dietary cholesterol from being broken down and digested in addition to lowering ones risks of developing heart disease and hypertension.
Insoluble fiber on the other hand (found highest in vegetables, legumes, beans and some grains) helps to bind water, causing an increase in faecal volume (bulk). In addition, insoluble fiber is fermented by the bacteria in our gut into short chain fatty acids, promoting the growth of good bacteria. This in turn makes energy for human colon cells, enhance immune function in the GI tract, increase sodium and water reabsorption, and acidify the pH of the colon which inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
When increasing fiber, make sure to do it gradually and with lots of water, as fluids are needed to allow smooth passage through the bowels. Here’s a list of some high soluble fiber foods: