Insoluble and Soluble Fiber: How Do They Impact Your Health?

Beans are a tremendous source of insoluble fiber.

Dietary fiber is the portion of plant foods that your body can’t digest. Fiber is a type of healthy carbohydrate, also known as complex carbohydrates. Because it’s unable to be digested, insoluble and soluble fiber provides many health benefits as they move through your GI tract. Below is a breakdown of the difference between the two.

In the video below, Amanda Haney reviews the benefits of consuming soluble and insoluble fiber.

Continue reading for more information. 

Insoluble vs soluble fiberWheat bread is a wonderful example of insoluble fiber

Insoluble fiber

Insoluble fiber forms the structure of plants. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and can’t be digested by intestinal bacteria. Therefore, it speeds up the flow of waste materials through your digestive system, preventing and reducing constipation.

Nuts are a great example of insoluble fiber

For example, you can find insoluble fiber in foods like wheat bran, nuts, fruit skins, and many vegetables. Whole grains like whole-wheat bread and brown rice also contain high amounts of insoluble fiber.

RELATED: Are Prebiotics and Probiotics the Answer To Better Gut Health?

Beans are a great example soluble fiber

Soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is found in and around plant cells. Unlike insoluble fiber, soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. It slows the absorption of nutrients from your digestive system and attracts water. This prevents and reduces constipation, helps control blood sugar, and reduces cholesterol in the blood.

Oats are one of many examples of soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is found in foods like beans, oats, fruits, vegetables, jams, jellies, pectin, and gums.

RELATED: Constipation: How To Prevent and Relieve This Painful Condition

The benefits of dietary fiber

Think of fiber as a workout for your intestines! Eating enough fiber makes your feces large and soft, which is beneficial for your digestive system because it strengthens your intestinal muscles and makes feces easy to eliminate.

Preventing constipation can also help reduce the risk of hemorrhoids and a painful condition in the large intestine called diverticulitis. A diet high in fiber can reduce heart disease and stroke risk, lower diabetes risk, and reduce the risk of weight gain and obesity.

Recommended fiber amounts

Many research studies have also shown that high fiber intake is associated with decreased colon cancer risk. High fiber foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. It’s best to get your fiber from whole foods rather than supplements. 

According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended daily fiber intake is 25g for women and 38g for men.

However, make sure you don’t consume too much fiber! More than the recommended amount of fiber can lead to diarrhea, gas, and decreased absorption of the minerals iron and zinc. 

Curious if you’re meeting the necessary amount of dietary fiber in your diet? Meet with your registered dietitian or doctor to learn more about how fiber can benefit your health!

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Hi, my name is Amanda Haney. I am a registered dietitian, board-certified nutrition support clinician, Cal State Long Beach alumnae, and former pediatric clinical dietitian. Currently, I am working as a project manager at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. As a clinical dietitian or in my current role, my passion is working in a diverse setting with a variety of teams in order to improve patient outcomes and achieve better health for the families in my community. I became a dietitian because I love food and I love medicine. There is so much misinformation about nutrition in the media, so I enjoy creating educational content that makes nutrition simple and to make your health goals achievable. In my free time, I love soaking up the beauty at the beach, riding my bike, staying active, cooking, and, most of all, spending time with my family and friends!