Soluble Fiber

Soluble Fiber

From your dietician, you now probably know the benefits of fiber. Dietary fibers not only promote health, they also help reduce the risk from some chronic diseases. There are two types of fiber found in food. The first is the insoluble fiber which is fiber that cannot be dissolved in water. When insoluble fiber passes through our intestines, it mostly remains intact. Soluble fiber on the other hand is water dissolvent. When mixed with liquid, soluble fiber forms a sort of gel.

Both insoluble and soluble fibers are undigested. This means that they are not absorbed into the bloodstream to become sources of nourishment for the body. Instead of being used as energy, these fibers are excreted from our bodies.

What is it?

Most foods contain a mixture of soluble and insoluble fibers, which together make up the dietary fiber family. Soluble fibers are the compounds found in your food that dissolve or swell when put into water. These include pectins, gums, mucilages, and some hemicelluloses. Incidentally, some hemicelluloses are insoluble and belong to the insoluble type of dietary fiber. Outside of the body, these compounds exist around plant cells as gum Arabic, guar gum, locust bean gum, and pectins.

Soluble Fibers and Cholesterol

Soluble fibers have almost the same properties as its insoluble cousin. They bind themselves with fatty acids, thus lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol levels. This in turn helps reduce the risk of heart disease.

When induced in large amounts, soluble fibers can reduce blood cholesterol. The mechanism is partly due to the ability of soluble fiber to stop or inhibit the intestinal tract from recycling the substance formed from cholesterol, bile. Soluble fibers pull bile into the feces for elimination, rather than eventually accumulating in the blood.

The role of Soluble Fiber in combating Diabetes

Soluble fibers also help in prolonging the stomach’s emptying time. In this way, the food is stored inside the stomach long enough for sugar to be released. The slow release of sugar causes the body to absorb it more slowly. People with diabetes benefit a lot from consuming soluble fibers. They help regulate blood sugar levels and ensure that balance is kept in the body’s many functions.

Soluble fiber is beneficial in moderating levels of glucose in the blood. Consuming large amounts of soluble fibers slow glucose absorption from the small intestine, thereby allowing the body, to absorb sugar in small doses. In addition, the results of a recent study conducted show that soluble fiber can help delay gastric emptying. This makes it useful in preventing overeating since it results in a feeling of satiety.

Where can you find them?

Most fibers are found in fruits and vegetables. Whole-wheat products which you can find plenty in grocery stores are also good sources of soluble fibers. However, be careful when choosing the whole-wheat product to buy. Some products boldly say in the label that it’s “whole wheat” when in fact, upon closer inspection, it’s really just white flour. When buying whole wheat, be sure to avoid “flour” and “unbleached flour” in the label as both of these just refer to “white flour.”

Other good sources of soluble fibers are wheat oats, corn bran, flax seed, vegetables such as green beans, cauliflowers, and potato skins, fruit skins and root vegetable skins.

KEYWORDS “Soluble Fiber” -16 (density = 3.8%)