Not All Fibers Are Alike

Soluble and insoluble: different types of fiber with different missions! What makes them unique? Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber doesn't. These differing qualities allow them to keep you healthy in different ways although some major health benefits are attributed to both. With the mixture of foods people eat, about two-thirds to three-quarters of their fiber intake is likely soluble.

Insoluble Fiber: Aid to Digestion

Insoluble fiber: you know it as "roughage." This group of fibers—cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin—gives structure to plant cell walls. Wheat bran, for example, is high in insoluble fiber.

Although they don't dissolve, insoluble fibers do hold on to water. And they move waste through the intestinal tract without being broken down themselves, earning fiber its title as "nature's broom." By adding bulk and softness to stools, insoluble fibers promote regularity and help prevent constipation. By moving waste through the colon, insoluble fibers increase the rate at which wastes are removed. This reduces the time that potentially harmful substances in waste come in contact with the intestinal lining.

Soluble Fiber: Protective Benefits

Soft, liquid foods may have fiber, too. Surprised? Instead of giving a coarse texture to food, soluble fibers, such as those in oat bran, dissolve to become gummy or viscous. They're often used in low-fat and

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