Different Types of Fiber

by Lisa Breitenwischer

January 16, 2024

Different Types of Fiber

Dietary fiber has many health benefits from regulating gut bacteria to weigh loss and a central part of a healthy diet. Most people have a basic understanding of fiber but very few are getting the recommended intake of 25-30 grams a day. The current average in the U.S. is about 15 grams or less.

Fiber refers to a diverse group of carbohydrates that can not be digested by the human body. We lack the digestive enzymes to break them down so they end up passing through the digestive system, unchanged. Fiber is mostly found in plant foods, including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. Fiber is often classified as either dietary fiber-found naturally in foods or functional fiber-extracted from whole foods and added to processed foods.

Four Different Types of Fiber

There’s a huge variety of different fibers found in foods, which can be confusing. Here’s the cliff notes on four different types of fiber you’ll want to familiarize yourself with, and incorporate into your diet.

Soluble fiber is a type fiber that absorbs water, and forms a gel in the digestive tract making it easier to pass stools. It slows down the digestion of carbohydrates preventing blood sugar spikes and helps keep you feeling fuller longer, which is helpful when it comes to weight loss. Soluble fibers include psyllium, pectin, beta-glucans and others.Food sources include apples, oats, peas, beans, citrus fruits, carrots and barley.

Insoluble fiber does not absorb water, and instead passes through the digestive system mainly intact. It functions as a bulking agent and may help speed the passage of food and waste through your gut. Insoluble fibers include lignins and cellulose. Food sources include whole wheat, nuts, beans, cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.

Fermentable fiber is important for this reason: Because humans can’t digest fiber it ends up in the large intestine unchanged. This is where fermentable fiber comes into play. These are fibers that are friendly gut bacteria and able to digest (ferment) and use as fuel. The best whole food sources are found in beans and legumes. A 1-cup serving often provides half the daily fiber requirement. Other sources include sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, pickles and miso.

Resistant starch functions like soluble, fermented fiber in the gut. It has numerous powerful health benefits: improves digestive health, enhances insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar levels both which are good for balancing hormone levels, and significantly reduces appetite. Food sources include green bananas, oats, beans, cooked and cooled rice and potatoes. Note: cooking then cooling starchy foods will increase their resistance starch.

It’s important to consume different types of fiber for good health. Start slowly when adding more fiber into your diet, as too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping.

If you’re wanting support with your current dietary needs, contact me at support@behealthyoga.com and set up a Health Consultation today. You’ll feel better for it!

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