Various Types Of Fibre And The Way They Affect Us
Time and again health experts remind us about the importance fibre for our health. Fibre is considered to be the basic part of a healthy diet. People generally put fibre in one category without knowing the fact that all fibre is not the same. Let us have a look.
What is fibre?
Fibre refers to carbohydrates that cannot be digested by humans, As we don’t have the enzyme needed to break it down, it passes out our body unchanged.
Fibre is chiefly found in plant foods like fruits and veggies, legumes, whole grains, seeds and nuts.
How is fibre classified?
Fibre is classified as:
- Dietary fibre, which is found in food
- Functional fibre, which is added to processed food.
There is another way of classifying fibre. It can be classified based on its solubility, viscosity and fermentability. Yes, so we have soluble and insoluble fibre, viscous and non-viscous fibre and fermentable and non-fermentable fibre. There is another class of fibre called resistant starch.
Soluble vs insoluble fibre
If the fibre is soluble in water, it is called soluble fibre or else it is called insoluble fibre. Simple!
Soluble fibre blends with the water present in the gut forming a gel-like substance. It reduces spikes of blood sugar and provides several metabolic health benefits.
Insoluble fibre passes out through the system intact. It acts as a bulking agent and helps in speeding up the passage of food and waste through the digestive system.
The gut is a home to 100 trillion friendly bacteria. The little fellows mainly reside in the large intestine. They are crucial for the health of humans. They have various roles to play in weight management, control of blood sugar, brain function, immunity and mental health.
As, it cannot be digested by the body, it reaches the large intestine unchanged and it is here where it comes to play. Fermentable fibre is digested by the gut bacteria and is used as fuel by them. This increases the number of gut bacteria and their balance.
Most of the fermentable fibres are soluble but some insoluble ones too function the same way. The best food sources of fermentable fibres are benas and legumes.
Do you know that one of the byproducts of fibre fermentation is gas? This is the main reason why foods that are high in fermentable fibre can cause stomach discomfort and flatulence.
Viscous fibres are ones that form a thick gel when blended with water. Now, you may ask what the term ‘viscous’ is? Viscosity of a fluid is its thickness. For instance, honey is more viscous in comparison to water.
Ingesting viscous fibre helps the formation of a gel-like substance that ‘sits down’ in the gut. It slows down the process of digestion and absorption of nutrients that results in feeling if fullness and reduced appetite.
According to a study, it has been found that only viscous fibres reduced the intake of food and helped in weight loss. Whole food sources of this fibre are legumes, oats, asparagus and flax seeds.
Starches refer to the carbs present in food. They are found in potatoes and grains. Some starch is resistant to digestion and it passes through the digestive system as is. This type of starch is called resistant starch and it functions like fermentable and soluble fibre in the gut.
Resistant starch has lots of health benefits to offer. It improves digestive health and insulin sensitivity, lowers the levels of blood sugar and reduces appetite. Foods with resistant starch include green bananas, potatoes, legumes, raw oats and cashews.
The bottom line
Ensure that you have food that is rich in fibre like veggies, fruits, oats, nuts, legumes, avocados, dark chocolate, chia seeds, avocados and other foods. As long as you eat whole plant foods, your intake of fibre will take care of itself.
Found this post useful?
You may also like reading-