5 foods with soluble and insoluble fiber that are great for gut health

DDietary fiber is the gift that keeps on giving because it can promote better BMs, support heart health, encourage healthy agingand then some. Unfortunately, according to a 2021 report from the American Society for Nutrition, only seven percent of Americans get enough of it in their dietso consider this a public service announcement urging you to fill your basket (and ultimately your plate) with more high fiber foods.

However, not all dietary fiber is the same. For example, there are soluble and insoluble fibers, which work in different ways to provide different benefits.

Hoping to boost your fiber intake and get the best of both worlds? The good news is that there are plenty of foods that contain both types of fiber, making it that much easier to diversify your diet (and therefore your gut) with a two-for-one deal. We asked Megan Rossi, PhD, RDdietitian, gut health researcher at King’s College London and author of How to eat more plantsto share the best foods that contain both, as well as some key information on fiber sources.

The Benefits of Different Types and Sources of Fiber

Simply put, soluble fiber dissolves in liquid while insoluble fiber does not. As Max Pitman, MDgastroenterologist and medical director at Salvo Health, already said good + good, the former slows digestion and can be helpful with diarrhea, bloating and abdominal discomfort, while the latter can actually speed up digestion and is therefore more helpful with constipation. Still, he explained that eating both types of fiber can provide a variety of benefits, “including stabilizing blood sugar, promoting digestive regularity, lowering cholesterol, and even reducing the risk of developing disease. heart disease and many types of cancer”.

But before we dive any further, Dr. Rossi notes that it may be more appropriate to categorize fibers into different terms. “Interestingly, more than a decade ago, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommended that we stop using the words ‘soluble’ and ‘insoluble’ to describe fibers, because there are nearly a hundred different types and they don’t match perfectly. in these categories,” says Dr. Rossi. Instead, she notes that we might be better off prioritizing fiber sources and their unique properties.

For example, Dr. Rossi mentions psyllium husk fiber and inulin fiber, both of which are soluble by definition. “Psyllium husk is a really good fiber for things like constipation,” she shares. “We know bacteria aren’t very good at digesting it, so it’s more beneficial for gut symptoms than it is to fertilize bacteria, so to speak.” On the other hand, she continues, inulin is a fiber that functions “like a fertilizer and bacteria ferment it, producing a range of anti-inflammatory chemicals.” As beneficial as inulin can be on its own, Dr. Rossi warns that this soluble fiber can actually trigger problems in people struggling with IBS. (If you are one of them, you may want to wait before eating specific inulin-rich foods.)

Either way, prioritizing fresh, plant-based foods in your diet is always a good choice to refuel with a variety of nutrients to support your gut and better health. “Together [plants] contain several types of fibers, all of which have different functionalities,” reiterates Dr. Rossi. “Different fibers can feed different gut bacteria, and so you get a more diverse range of gut bacteria with more fiber diversity.” From there, she mentions that each bacterium offers different skills, which together can ultimately promote a thriving gut microbiota and a cascade of benefits for digestion and beyond.

5 foods high in soluble and insoluble fiber

This list of foods that offer both soluble and insoluble fiber is by no means exhaustive; in fact, Dr. Rossi says that most fibrous, plant-based foods actually contain a combination of the two. (Trick : Leave your fruit and vegetable peelings on whenever possible to load up even more fiber.) That said, if you need some inspiration before packing your next fiber-rich grocery haul, consider stocking up on the following items.

1. Chickpeas

Mediterranean chickpea salad or fresh hummus, anyone? “Half a can of chickpeas equals about 10 grams of fiber,” shares Dr. Rossi, which is more than a third of the 28 grams daily value recommended by the FDA. “One type of fiber in chickpeas is galactooligosaccharides, a prebiotic that feeds anti-inflammatory gut bacteria like bifidobacteria,” she adds.

2. Oats

Whether you love classic rolled oats, blend oats overnight, or prefer to bake them into a sweet treat, rest assured that oats provide both soluble and insoluble fiber. (plus many other micros and macros that can produce awesome benefits for your greater health). “Forty grams of oats contain four grams of fiber. Oats also contain beta-glucans, which can help lower blood cholesterol,” says Dr. Rossi.

3. Almonds

Almonds are not only an excellent source of heart-healthy fats and plant-based proteins. According to Dr. Rossi, they also contain about 3.5 grams of dietary fiber per 30-gram serving (equivalent to about 20 almonds), making them a great snack to keep in your pantry to enjoy by the handful. , on a salad or soaked and tossed into your favorite smoothie.

4. Firm Tofu

Dr. Rossi says firm tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it a worthy substitute for animal protein. Plus, she shares that 125 grams (nearly 4.5 ounces) of firm tofu contains three grams of fiber in total. “It also contains phytoestrogens, which are linked to reducing your risk of breast cancer,” she adds.

5. Tomatoes

Finally, Dr. Rossi recommends stocking up on tomatoes if you’re looking for top whole-food sources with both soluble and insoluble fiber. “A tomato contains 1.5 grams of fiber as well as lycopene, a type of plant chemical that can help protect your skin from UV damage,” she says. You can get your tomato fix in many ways, from sauces and salsas to all kinds of creative salad combinations. Consider cooking this Mexican stew of chickpeas and tomatoes– which happens to be one of my favorite plant-based recipes – to go the extra mile when it comes to soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, and protein *and*.

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