Soluble Vs. Insoluble Fibre: Difference Between Both Nutrients

Fibre is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in maintaining overall health. From supporting the digestive system and lowering cholesterol to aiding weight loss, it is a very crucial part of a healthy diet. But did you know that dietary fibre is divided into two categories: soluble and insoluble? Though most food items contain a mixture of both fibres, it is important to know the difference between them. 

What Is Soluble Fibre? 

According to Medical News Today, soluble fibre dissolves in water and gastrointestinal fluids that are present in the stomach and intestines. It forms a gel-like substance when it contacts the liquids, and this helps slow down the digestion process. Soluble fibre is digested by the bacteria in the large intestine, releasing a few calories and gases. Some good sources of soluble fibre are apples, barley, beans, carrots, oats, and citrus fruits. 

What Is Insoluble Fibre?

Insoluble fibre is just the opposite of soluble fibre. It does not dissolve in water or any other fluid. According to Medical News Today, it remains unchanged as it passes through the digestive tract. As it is not digested, insoluble fibre does not release any calories. Some common foods rich in insoluble fibre are beans, nuts, wheat bran, cauliflower, and berries. 

The Difference 

Both fibres are equally important, and they help in digestion and reduce the risk of many diseases like heart problems and diabetes. But there is a slight difference in the benefits they provide. According to Medical News Today, soluble fibre lowers fat absorption and helps with weight management. It also lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre-rich foods feed gut bacteria that help reduce inflammation and improve digestion. 

On the other hand, insoluble fibre helps the body process waste properly, improves bowel health, and treats constipation. According to Medical News Today, it also lowers the risk of intestinal blockage and prevents diseases like haemorrhoids and colorectal cancer.  

How Much Fibre Do We Need?

There is no need to track how much soluble and insoluble fibre we consume; just focus on the total amount you are eating. According to Healthline, women under the age of 50 need 25 to 28 grams of fibre per day. Men under 50 years old require 31 to 34 grams per day. Women older than 50 must consume 22 grams of fibre per day, and men older than 50 need 28 grams per day.