What is the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre and why should we eat it?
There are different types of beneficial fibres you can include in your diet... it's best to include a range of different fibres in your diet to keep your gut working well and your body healthy.
Soluble fibre forms a sticky gel in water as it is water soluble. This causes food to be absorbed into the blood stream much slower which helps to prevent sudden increases in blood sugar.
Soluble fibre can help to keep you feeling full for longer by delaying the time taken for food to leave the stomach. This can be beneficial for weight management.
Soluble fibre can also help lower raised blood cholesterol by binding to bile acids produced by liver. The liver uses cholesterol to make bile acids so by binding with bile acids and eliminating them, fibre can help us to use up more cholesterol and reduce our risk of heart disease.
Soluble fibre can also help to loosen impacted faecal matter in the large intestine. Fruits and leafy vegetables are good sources of soluble fibre for example apples, bananas and broccoli. Oats and oatmeal are also a good source of soluble fibre.
Insoluble fibre helps food to move through the gut. It can help to avoid constipation by improving the time it takes for waste to move through the large intestine for elimination. It also increases the bulk of the stools making them easier to pass. Some insoluble fibre provides food for the beneficial bacteria living in the gut which are essential for colon health. Some good sources of insoluble fibre include green beans, apples, flax seeds and nuts.
Resistant starch passes into the large intestine without being digested. Resistant starch is a prebiotic and feeds the beneficial bacteria in your large intestine which produce beneficial substances called short chain fatty acids such as butyrate. Butyrate helps to protect and feed the cells lining the large intestines.
Resistant starch can help to improve insulin sensitivity (improves how your body responds to changes in your blood sugar levels) which is particularly improtant for those with diabetes or insulin resistance. Resistant starch can also improve the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Some foods which contain high levels of resistant starch include under ripe bananas and potatoes which have been cooked and cooled (for example potato salad).