Dietary fibre, found in all plant-based foods, plays an essential role in human health. Fibre is found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.). Fibre is the part of the plant that our bodies CANNOT digest. That means, our bodies don't break down fibre and don't use it for energy or calories.
There are two different kinds of fibre: SOLUBLE and INSOLUBLE fibre. Both types of fibre help maintain the health of your digestive system and promote regular bowel movements.
Soluble fibre is the type of fibre that gets very sticky when it gets wet. The best example of soluble fibre are oats and oatmeal. Picture how oatmeal or oats look and feel after it gets wet. They feel sticky because they contain a lot of SOLUBLE fibre. Some fruits, vegetables and grains contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. Lentils for example contains both soluble and insoluble fibre
What does soluble fibre do for your body?
Soluble fibre pulls in water to form a gel in the digestive tract. This slows digestion, so your stomach and intestine do not absorb as much of some nutrients, like starch and sugar. As a result, cholesterol levels go down over time, which may help prevent heart disease and stroke. Consuming soluble fibre may also improve glucose tolerance in people with diabetes. This type of fibre is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter laxatives. Psyllium husk (which contains both soluble and insoluble fibre), pectin, and the soft parts of fruits, dried beans, and peas are examples of soluble fibre. If you have high cholesterol, eating a lot of soluble fibre may help you bring your blood cholesterol levels down. Also, if you are going through cancer treatment and have diarrhoea, soluble fibre can help minimize your diarrhoea.
As I mention before, some fruits, vegetables and grains contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre-rich foods
Oatmeal, oats, barley, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, legumes, guar gums, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, carrots
Insoluble fibre is the type of fibre that doesn't change at all when it gets wet. A good example of insoluble fibre is the skin of an apple. If you put an apple skin in water, 3 hours later it still looks like an apple skin. Tough, stringy pieces in celery are insoluble fibre as well. An apple skin or piece of celery contains a lot of INSOLUBLE fibre and this is why it doesn't change when it gets wet.
What does insoluble fibre do for your body?
It acts as a natural laxative that speeds the passage of foods through the stomach. It also gives stool its bulk and helps it move quickly through the gastrointestinal tract. If you are constipated, try eating foods with a lot of insoluble fibre. Make sure to drink a lot of water with these foods. This will help cut down on gas production and move the waste through your body more quickly.
Insoluble fibre-rich foods
Whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit and root vegetable skins
Warning! Fibre can cause gas and bloating. Experts recommend that we eat at least 25 to 35 grams of fibre every day. This fibre should be a combination of both soluble and insoluble fibre.
High-Fibre Fruits Include
High-Fibre Vegetables Include...
Sweet potatoes (with skin)