Make friends with fibre for a healthier gut- benefits of soluble and insoluble fibres.

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As funny as it may sound, cringe-worthy for some there is no taking away that a healthy bowel movement is the best start to the day. It is key to overall well-being both physically and mentally. Dietary fibre or roughage is the indigestible part of plant foods and provides a host of other health benefits- it feeds the good gut bacteria; plays a role in reducing the risk of heart diseases and type 2 diabetes. It is found mainly in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables and helps maintain a healthy weight. Needlessly to say- it is an essential nutrient in our daily diet.

Before we proceed pay close attention to this-

The friendly gut bacteria produce nutrients for the body- short-chain fatty acids such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, of which butyrate is said to be the most important. These short-chain fatty acids can feed the cells in the colon, bringing down gut inflammation and improving digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and other ulcers.

Soluble Vs Insoluble Fibre

Refined white sugar has been linked to serious ailments such as diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases. Now is it easy to wipe it off one’s diet? Practically no. Natural sugar alternatives with lower fructose and calorie levels such as xylitol, stevia, coconut sugar, honey, and jaggery can still be used to sweeten your favorite dessert.

Dangers of using artificial sugar substitutes-

Both soluble and insoluble fibres are found in most fibre-rich foods. Soluble fibre easily dissolves in water and is broken down into a gel-like substance in the colon where it gets digested by the bacteria found there. Soluble fibre helps bulk up the stool and prevents constipation. Insoluble fibre on the other hand remains intact as food moves through the gastrointestinal tract and therefore does not have any calories as well. Hence its bulk also has the benefit of filling up the tummy after consumption leading to more feelings of satiety.

Benefits of soluble fibre-

• Lowers fat absorption and actively aids weight management as these thick spread-out gel-like fibre blocks fats which otherwise get digested and absorbed.
• Soluble fibre prevents some kinds of cholesterol from being broken down and digested; gradually it aids in lower cholesterol levels or the amount of free cholesterol in the blood.
• It also slows down the digestion rate of other nutrients, including carbohydrates translating to lesser spikes in blood sugar levels.
• All of this in return reduces the risk of heart diseases and circulatory conditions.
• Some soluble fibre-rich foods feed gut bacteria, as it is ferments in the colon, thereby helping the “good” bacteria thrive longer.

Benefits of insoluble fibre-

• Since insoluble fibre is indigestible it sits in the GI tract absorbing fluid, sticking to other by-products of digestion ready to be converted into the stool. Its presence hastens the movement and processing of waste, helping prevent gastrointestinal blockage, constipation, or reduced bowel movements.
• It lowers the risk of diverticular disease due to the above; thereby also reducing the risk of developing small folds and hemorrhoids in the colon.
• Insoluble fibre takes up space in the stomach and intestines, quickly causing the sensation of being full. Now, this can help people manage weight.

A healthy diet contains the right mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre along with all the other essential nutrients. Soluble fibre is common in foods, such as beans, peas, oats, barley, apples, and citrus fruits. Good sources of insoluble fibre include beans, whole wheat or bran products, all green vegetables, potatoes, cauliflowers, and nuts. Consume fibre in the right quantity through all the meals and witness the magic it weaves on your overall health!


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