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2davidc8's avatar

Question about dietary fiber: are both soluble and non-soluble fiber beneficial, or just the soluble?

Asked by 2davidc8 (7898points) April 19th, 2014

Which is better for you, soluble or non-soluble fiber? Or do they have different functions and both are good? If so, what are the different functions?

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10 Answers

Seek's avatar

Non-soluble fiber is the stuff your body can’t break down. It’s necessary to push stuff through your system. Popcorn is a great example of non soluble fiber.

JLeslie's avatar

GQ. For the life of me I can’t figure out soluble vs. insoluble as much as I have read up on it. It never lines up with what I know about my own body. All I know is raisins help me go to the bathroom and hard raw veggies like carrots and celery or things like nuts, rough up my digestive track and eventually if I eat that stuff too much daily I will wind up bleading when I go to the bathroom for days or weeks before I heal.

I think both are good to help you feel full and slow down absorbing sugar.

I’ll be interested in what other people say.

gailcalled's avatar

From WebMD.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not. To some degree these differences determine how each fiber functions in the body and benefits your health.

Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibers can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.

Sources of soluble fiber: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.

Insoluble fibers are considered gut-healthy fiber because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation.*These fibers do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut.

Sources of insoluble fiber: 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.”

(Carrots and nuts are on both lists, I see.)

2davidc8's avatar

@gailcalled Thanks for the information. Very helpful.
I’m looking at this container of Metamucil, which is psyllium, and it says that one “serving” has 3g of dietary fiber, 2g of soluble fiber. It doesn’t mention insoluble or non-soluble fiber, but I’m guessing that the difference of 1g is the insoluble. Interesting that it claims the health benefits of both kinds of fiber, i.e., it’s a mild laxative and also supposedly may help reduce cholesterol. It tastes terrible, though.

JLeslie's avatar

Metamucil didn’t help me at all, but it does help many people, let us know your results.

2davidc8's avatar

@JLeslie I’m not looking for any major effect., just maybe adding a little more fiber to my diet. I might add Metamucil occasionally to soups or even coffee, but at one-half or one-fourth the suggested amount so I won’t notice the taste!

JLeslie's avatar

You said a serving is only 3 grams, a half or one fourth is barely any fiber at all. I suggest adding more fiber with tasty foods. More vegetables, fruits whole grains will mean more vitamins and minerals and less cholesterol hopefully.

I don’t believe fiber helps cholesterol and there are conflicting studies about fiber affecting chances of colon cancer. What I do think is foods with higher fiber tend to be healthier. If you eat roasted vegetables and rice in lieu of meat and mashed potatoes, of course you have more chances of lower cholesterol. Same with eating oatmeal or Wheatina instead of eggs and bacon. Many of the “studies” don’t compare low cholesterol or no cholesterol foods to fiber rich foods, they are comparing a cholesterol diet to their no cholesterol product. That’s how I look at it anyway. If adding Metamucil makes you eat less cholesterol then it probably will work. If adding Metamucil just adds fiber but you take in the same amount of cholesterol, I have my doubts. But, it will be interesting to see your results.

Unbroken's avatar

Another mild laxative in powder form is Natural Calm with magnesium in it. Take it at night if try it, I like the taste better.

It is not fiber filled but it has more benefits with the same effect.

2davidc8's avatar

@JLeslie Good point.
Well, the Metamucil always seems to coalesce at the bottom of my cup or soup bowl into an unappetizing glob. I think I’m going to throw it out.

SmartAZ's avatar

Wheat bran is the best fiber. It doesn’t take much: two slices of whole grain bread per day. Veggies with every meal will do as well. You don’t even need to worry about soluble or non-soluble.

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