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What Is the Difference Between Soluble and Insoluble Fibre?

Fibre May Sound Boring, but the Right Type Can Help You Lose Fat and Manage Your Weight

Photographer: Jae Payne

If you thought fibre only matters when you're older, think again. It turns out most people don't get enough fibre in their diets and as a result are missing out on all of the benefits fibre has to offer. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is found in plant foods like broccoli, avocados, and beans. A diet high in fibre not only promotes intestinal regularity, it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are two types of fibre, soluble fibre and insoluble fibre, and here's what you need to know about each of them.

What Is Soluble Fibre?

Soluble fibre is found in a variety of foods like beans, peas, fruits, oats, nuts, and vegetables. Soluble fibre can dissolve in water and gastrointestinal fluids, and once it's in the stomach and intestines, it turns into a gel-like substance. Soluble fibres interfere with dietary fat and cholesterol absorption, which can help with with weight management. Because soluble fibre reduces cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and decreases fat absorption, it may help reduce heart disease.

What Is Insoluble Fibre?

Insoluble fibre is what allows you to have a bowel movement without straining. Because it's indigestible, insoluble fibre sits in the gastrointestinal tract, absorbs fluid, and sticks to other byproducts that are ready to become stool. Eating insoluble fibre helps to prevent gastrointestinal blockage and constipation. Insoluble fibre is found in fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, wheat bran, and whole grain foods.

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What's the Best Type of Fibre For Weight Loss?

If you're trying to lose weight, eating foods that have soluble fibre in them will help block fat absorption. A diet that consists of whole, minimally processed foods is typically recommended to improve your overall health, but make sure to always speak to your doctor before making any dietary changes.

How Much Fibre Do I Need?

A 2008 study found that the average American's daily fibre intake was only 16 grams a day. According to the most current US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines, adult men require approximately 34 grams of fibre a day (contingent upon age, see table A7-1), and adult women require about 28 grams a day (contingent upon age, see table A7-1). Be sure to increase your daily water intake as your fibre intake goes up to prevent constipation and enhance the effects of high fibre.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne
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