When it comes to our overall health and physical fitness, taking care of ourselves on the inside, can be just as important as taking care of ourselves on the outside. By this, we basically mean that ensuring that our bodies are fit and healthy on the inside, is just as important as making sure that we look fit and healthy on the outside. Take our digestion for instance. It’s all well and good cutting out unhealthy junk foods, and replacing them with healthy, low fat, vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant enriched foods instead, but have you ever wondered how all of this natural goodness actually benefits us, and perhaps more importantly, how it gets inside our bodies in the first place. Obviously eating or drinking the foods is the first step, but after that, it’s how these nutrients are broken down and absorbed by the body, that determines how much we actually benefit from these foods. The better a person’s digestion is, the more efficiently these foods can be broken down, and therefore the more nutrients will be extracted from the newly broken down food. Fiber plays a vital role in digestion as well as a whole host of other functions and processes inside the actual human body itself. There are two different types of fiber, soluble, and insoluble fiber.
What are the differences? – Basically, it’s really quite simple. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, whereas insoluble fiber does not. The differences may be quite easy to differentiate from one another, but the actual benefits themselves, are what really set these two forms of fiber apart from one another.
What are common forms of soluble fibers and how do they work? – Soluble fibers are generally found in food sources such as cereal, oats, apples, oranges, lentils, beans, legumes, nuts, cucumbers, carrots, and celery. They work by basically attracting water once consumed, which forms a thick gel like substance, slowing down digestion. This means the food is digested much slower, allowing a steady stream of nutrients to be released and absorbed into the body, rather than everything all at once. Soluble fibers have also been found to potentially help lower blood pressure, control and lower bad cholesterol, and even regulate blood sugar levels, thus helping to control, or prevent diabetes.
How about insoluble fibers? – Insoluble fiber is widely considered to be stomach friendly and most beneficial towards digestive activity, as it contains natural laxative effects, which help keep you regular. When people say that fiber is required to help keep you regular, they are indirectly referring to insoluble fibers. As these fibers do not dissolve in water, they are able to pass through the digestive tract, almost unchanged, which is how they help aid in digestion and regular bowel movements. Generally insoluble fiber can be found in vegetables and whole grains. Foods such as, whole wheat, bran, whole grain, barley, brown rice, cous cous, raisins, prunes, leafy vegetables, and root vegetables are all especially high in insoluble fiber.
All in all, both soluble, and insoluble fiber is extremely important and beneficial for digestion, as well as the human body as a whole. For that reason, a diet rich in a mixture of healthy soluble, and insoluble fiber is highly recommended, and can and will make a world of difference on your overall health and general well-being.