Soluble and Insoluble Fibre Facts

It’s a fact that most of us don’t get nearly as much fibre as we should. In fact most of us fall well short of the recommended 30g that we should eat to maintain bowel health, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar and aid weight loss. When it comes to the type of fibre we should consume, that comes down to a mix of soluble and insoluble. But what’s the difference and why do we need both? Read on to find out more.

What is fibre?

Fibre refers to all parts of plant-based foods that can’t be digested or absorbed by the body. Most commonly found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, fibre, is considered a complex carbohydrate that doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. It is made up of two main types, soluble and insoluble and we need both to maintain optimum health.

What is soluble fibre?

Soluble fibre is that which dissolves in water and gastrointestinal fluids. It enters the stomach and intestines before being broken down into a gel-like substance by bacteria in the colon. It is then converted by this bacteria into short-chain fatty acids. These in turn nourish the intestinal cells and help maintain proper pH within the colon which reduces the growth of harmful bacteria. Including plenty of soluble fibre helps reduce cholesterol, stabilise blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease; to increase your intake of soluble fibre, try to eat plenty of nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and peas.

What is insoluble fibre?

Unlike soluble fibre, insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water or gastrointestinal fluids. Instead, it remains intact as it moves through the digestive tract. Because it sits unchanged in the gastrointestinal tract, it absorbs fluid and other byproducts of digestion that are ready to be formed into stools, a process which helps prevent constipation and ensure regular bowel movements. Good sources of insoluble fibre include wheat bran and vegetables, such as cauliflower and green beans.

If you struggle to get enough fibre through your diet alone, it can be a good idea to supplement your intake. Workshop’s Gut Cleansing Formula features a blend of soluble fibres which include guar gum, acacia gum, apple pectin, inulin, psyllium seed and glucomannan, and insoluble fibres which include cellulose (from carrot fibre and psyllium husk) and lignins (such as flax and cranberry seed).