Before I started my nutrition degree I though that fibre was just fibre. Well, over the course of my studies I discovered that there are different types of fibre – soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fibre – sources include fruit, some grains like oats and barley and legumes for example chickpeas, lentils etc. Soluble fibre moves more slowly through the bowel, absorbing water along the way. Think of jam setters like pectin (which is a soluble fibre) they bulk up the stool. Soluble fibres help to reduce cholesterol and lower glucose absorption within the bowel.
- Insoluble fibre – sources include vegetables, cereals (like wheat-bran, wholegrain). Insoluble fibre does not absorb water as it moves through the bowel. Transit time through the bowel is faster than soluble fibre and helps to prevent constipation and bulks up the stool as well.
This is only a brief explanation of what fibre does and the sources within our foods. Both fibres are very beneficial and some fruits and vegetables contain both types of fibre e.g. the skin of an apple is insoluble whereas inside the apple is soluble. Therefore if your stools are looser it might be beneficial to include more soluble fibre in your diet.
Did you know what the recommended intake of fibre is per day? Its at least 30grams per day and most of us do not have nearly enough fibre. Most packaged foods contain dietary labelling, its great to check out the fibre content to get an idea of how much you are having.