There are two types of fibre we need, soluble and insoluble (soluble fibre absorbs water, while insoluble doesn’t). When soluble fibre absorbs water it expands into a soft, mushy consistency that easily makes its way through the digestive tract.
Fibre is often thought of as something we need in our diet to help keep us from being constipated, but it can do a lot more than help you poop.
Soluble fibre can help stabilize blood sugar levels, minimizing the sugar the body absorbs, and in turn minimizes the amount of insulin the body has to release. In fact, the consumption rate of dietary fibre has an inverse risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. That’s because less sugar and less insulin mean there is a lower risk of developing insulin resistance.
Soluble fibre foods are also beneficial for type 1 diabetics. Dietary fibre intake can have a long-term effect on HbA1c levels. That’s because the fibre can help prevent sugar spikes, or make the spikes less harsh. It has been shown to reduce glycaemic and insulinemic effects. Everyone can benefit from this, but the effects are going to be felt more strongly by someone with diabetes, especially with diabetics who have trouble controlling and maintaining safe blood-glucose levels.
Soluble fibre has a significant impact on LDL and total cholesterol. This type of fibre attaches itself to excess cholesterol and carries it out of the body. Healthy dietary fibre levels have been shown to result in much safer and stable cholesterol levels, which is important for heart health.
Soluble fibre can also be beneficial for weight loss. Besides helping to remove toxins and excess waste from your system, it helps fill you and keeps you feeling full longer.
So how much fibre should we be getting?
There isn’t a specific soluble/insoluble ratio set out by Health Canada, but the recommended total dietary fibre recommendation is 38g a day for adult men (30g for men over 50) and 25g a day for women (21g for women over 50). Be careful about going over the daily-recommended levels.
Here are 5 great high soluble fibre foods that will help you add soluble fibre to your diet.
Brussels sprouts are a great source of dietary fibre. They contain 2.0g of soluble fibre per half cup serving (78 grams). This cruciferous vegetable is packed with health benefits for your gut and for your entire body. Between the soluble fibre and the high levels of vitamin C, Brussels sprouts are a great way to flush toxins from your gut and keep things from backing up, festering, and inflaming your digestive tract. The dense leaves of this plant are mostly water and fibre, a perfect recipe for keeping your bowels hydrated and removing waste from your body. In addition, they’re a great source of many flavonoid antioxidants, which will help fight inflammation and oxidative stress.
Purple Passion Fruit
Purple passion fruit (not the juice and not yellow passion fruit) has an astounding 6.5g of soluble fibre per half cup serving, with a total of 12.5g of dietary fibre. This is incredibly high, and can be a great contribution to your daily-required fibre intake. This fibrous fruit is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Unfortunately, passion fruit is also very high in sugar, 16g in a half-cup serving. The fibre levels will definitely help balance out this sugar intake, so you won’t see as severe of a spike in blood glucose levels, but you’re still going to need to be mindful of how much of this fruit you eat. You’ll also want to avoid eating too much of the fruit in one sitting because of the very high fibre levels. As great as it can be for your digestive tract, too much can cause cramping, bloating, and an upset stomach. There is a fine line between helping your bowels do their job, and causing irritation that’ll do more harm than good.
Avocados have become incredibly popular within the fitness and nutrition community for a good reason. Avocados are another great food that’ll add soluble fibre to your diet. A full avocado has 4.2 grams of soluble fibre. Not only are they high in fibre, but they are also high in healthy fats. These fats are great for satiating hunger, and also for hydrating the body. Think of it as lubricating your intestines. It is going to help keep the walls of your digestive tract strong and healthy, protecting you from gut permeability. These fats can also help your gut better absorb nutrients by as much as 15x. The fibre and the fats are really the perfect combo for a healthy digestive tract, which will in turn improve your overall health.
Beans, in general, are a good source of soluble fibre. Lima beans, navy, pinto, and kidney beans are all great sources of this important fibre, but black beans top this list with 5.4g per ¾ cup (175 mL).
Black beans are also a great source of folate, and are a good source of protein, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. As an added bonus, while high in total carbs, it’s free of simple sugars. This is great because most beans contain sugars called alpha-galactosides, which can cause a lot of bloating and gas. Black beans shouldn’t have nearly the same effect, and are generally easy to digest. Soaking the beans before eating them will also help with digestion and getting the most out of the soluble fibre.
Flax Seeds have up to 1.2g of soluble fibre in a single tablespoon. Flaxseed is mostly fibre, and because of this, only 1.5g of carbs are actually absorbed by the body per 100g. This has made them a valuable tool for people trying to lose weight. The fibre in flaxseed not only helps cleanse the body, but it also helps reduce appetite and satiate hunger.
On top of this, they are an excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, and manganese. However, it’s the high levels of omega-3 in these tiny seeds that have made it such a popular health food in recent years. This is a great food to have in your diet for many reasons. The omega-3 will help with inflammation and can help protect your brain and heart. On top of this, like the fats in avocados, the fats in these seeds, mixed with the high fibre content, will help protect your gut and help it work at its best.
The extra protein from flaxseeds has also made it popular in fitness circles. Protein, healthy fats, and high fibre levels to keep your gut healthy will make flaxseeds a great addition to your diet.
Soluble fibre is an important part of any diet. It is an important part of cleansing and maintaining a healthy digestive tract, lowering blood-glucose levels, and even lowering cholesterol. Just add water to get the maximum benefit.