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Soluble Vs Non-soluble Fiber
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an extremely common but almost completely misunderstood condition where there are often intense bodily responses to things such as certain foods, stress and distension. It is believed that a large number of people who are currently seeking help from gastroenterology clinics have IBS.
Some of the varied symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain and discomfort and a change in bowel habit that usually ends up being either constipation or diarrhea. For most sufferers, the pain associated with IBS is experienced during meals or during a bowel movement. One of the biggest problems with IBS is that the same symptoms are sometimes associated with other bowel disorders, so the correct diagnosis of IBS is extremely difficult. Other symptoms that have nothing to do with the bowels can also be linked to IBS.
One of the most common treatments associated with IBS is following a high-fiber diet, although there is almost no agreement among doctors that this is the way to go. A recent synopsis of studies focusing on high fiber or bran-supplemented diets showed that only two of the eight patients had reduced symptoms. Some symptoms, such as constipation, have been shown to decrease with the prescription of a high fiber diet, but at the same time, other sufferers that have symptoms such as distension, diarrhea and abdominal pain may end up worse off with the same high fiber diet that helped others.
Dietary fiber is usually classified into two different groups: soluble and insoluble. Both kinds of fiber are present in all known plant food, with different amounts of each present depending on the plant. The word insoluble refers to a fiber’s ability to soak up water and not dissolve. It’s said that insoluble fiber has “passive water-attracting properties” that help to add mass to a bowel movement, softening the movement and giving some speed to the movement through the intestinal tract. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, means that the fiber in the plant dissolves in water easily. These simple definitions, however, can be limiting since soluble fiber can ferment in the intestinal tract and that can benefit the body in the long run.
One of the easiest ways to imagine the difference between what is soluble and what is insoluble, imagine a plum. The thick, tough outer skin would be considered insoluble fiber, while the inner flesh, while still fibrous, would be considered soluble.
Other popular sources of insoluble fiber include whole wheat, corn bran, flax seeds and veggies such as carrots, celery, green beans and potato skins.
One of the best combinations of soluble and insoluble fiber is the husk from a psyllium grain. It’s been proven to help lower blood cholesterol when consumed on a regular basis. The husk is 34% insoluble fiber and 66% soluble, which is considered to be an optimal balance that makes the grain a highly thought of food additive.
The impact of these fibers on the digestions of IBS sufferers is not conclusive. Some sufferers say that eating particular types of food cause their symptoms to reduce. But at the same time, getting rid of “problem” foods and eating more foods from another group can do more harm than good in the long run. Remember don’t try any sort of special diet when you suffer from IBS without consulting a doctor first. If you remove one kind of fiber, your body may need to find a replacement source.
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