Fiber’s effect on the body’s digestive system has long been studied and is this nutrient’s main claim to fame. Studies of the benefits of fiber have now expanded to its effect on the risk of stroke and its connection with cholesterol levels. But did you know that there are actually two types of fiber and that your body needs both? Fiber is broken down into soluble and insoluble fiber. Here we’ll explore these two types of fiber, what they do and how to naturally get them in your system.
Fiber can come from many different food items like fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. A diet that consists mostly of processed or fast food has only a small amount of much needed natural fiber and has been linked to many uncomfortable and painful conditions like constipation. Because many people have such low amounts of fiber in their diets, many companies are beginning to “enrich” their processed products with fiber. Unfortunately, some of these enriched foods miss the mark, as they are still very processed and may even contain artificial ingredients. If you are unsure, read the label.
Soluble vs. Insoluble
Simply put, soluble fiber can dissolve in water while insoluble water can not. Both of these types of fiber serve an important purpose for you and your digestion. As Sarah B., Nutritionist and Blogger of My New Roots puts it, “the soluble fiber dissolves in water and soothes the digestive tract with its mucilaginous properties, while the insoluble fiber acts like a broom to sweep the colon free of toxins.”
Think of it this way: soluble fiber forms a gel that helps to absorb nutrients while insoluble fiber sweeps through the digestive track and adds bulk to your stool.
The Loss of Fiber
One fact about fiber that may surprise you pertains to a common new craze: juicing. Many use juicing as a way to get a large amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet quickly. Unfortunately, when we discard the plant fiber, we are also discarding the nutrient fiber. Like we said above, fiber not only helps to aid in digestion, but it helps to absorb the nutrients into your body! If you plan on juicing, be sure that you are still eating your fruits and vegetables to ensure that you are getting enough fiber.
By now you probably get it – fiber is important. But where do we get fiber? Plants! Fruits and vegetables are all wonderful sources of one or both types of fiber. Whole grain oats and legumes are also chock full of fiber as well as almonds and the infamous prune. Nutiva is proud to offer many products that support a healthy and natural fiber intake. Be sure to drink water as you up your fiber intake, as it is necessary to help move fiber along and prevent cramping or other digestive discomforts.
What are you favorite fiber sources? Have you experienced the benefit of adding fiber to your diet? Let us know in the comments below!