Soluble Fiber vs Insoluble Fiber
Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber are the two basic types of fiber. To understand the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber, we need to know what fiber is. The fruits and vegetables that we eat contain plant cells. The cell walls of these plant cells are called fibers that go inside our bodies when we eat food. These fibers are very beneficial for our health. In fact these fibers are vital for our health because of the functions they perform once inside our stomach.
Fibers take a long time to be digested by our bodies and there are some types that cannot be digested at all and hence excreted by the body. One important function of fibers is to gradually release glucose in the bloodstream. So instead of a surge in glucose levels or drop in insulin levels, we have a steady glucose level. When doctors recommend a patient to have a lot of roughage, they are basically referring to these vegetables and fruits. As fiber rich foods take longer to be digested by body, we feel fuller thus reducing our calorific intake on a daily basis. This implies that fibers prevent us from putting on weight. Doctors say that an average adult should consume 25-38 gm of fiber daily and this amount should contain both insoluble and soluble fibers in the ratio of 3:1.
As their names imply, soluble fibers are easily dissolved in water and are thus absorbed by our bodies. On the other hand, insoluble fibers are those that do not get dissolved in water. As such, they perform a very valuable task of preventing anything that might block the digestive tract. Instead, they soak in water and expand in volume covering the entire digestive track. They speed up the process of moving bulk through the tract keeping the inside walls of the digestive tract clean. Green vegetables are a rich source of insoluble fibers and we should consume a lot of green vegetables every day. Insoluble fibers prevent cancer of the intestine, colon and rectum. They also help in preventing diseases like constipation and hemorrhoids. Insoluble fibers also maintain the pH levels inside our bodies which prevent microorganisms from spreading carcinogens inside bodies. Cellulose and lignin are types of insoluble fibers.
Soluble fibers dissolve readily in our bodies, and thus maintain healthy blood sugar levels. They are commonly found in fruits. They take the form of a gel and keep the rate of food passing through the digestive tract at proper levels. Not allowing letting pass food quickly. This helps the body to absorb the nutrients in the body in a better manner. These fibers also maintain healthy cholesterol levels which are good for the health of our heart. Green legumes, peas, lentils and beans are also rich sources of soluble fibers.
Maintaining a stable balance between soluble and insoluble fibers in our bodies helps in better absorption of nutrients and vitamins, and also helps in avoiding common ailments.