Soluble fibre includes pectins, gums, betaglucans, some hemicelluloses, and more.
Soluble fibre is found in oats, legumes (beans and lentils), soybeans, some seeds, brown rice, barley, psyllium, flaxseed, fruits, some green vegetables and potatoes.3
Soluble fibre is soluble in water, so it forms a gel as it passes through the digestive tract.
Soluble fibre may work to reduce blood cholesterol levels by trapping the cholesterol in bile and preventing it being reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
This effect may result in a decreased risk of heart disease if fibre is eaten in sufficient amounts.4
Soluble fibre also slows down the speed with which food leaves the stomach.
The benefits of this action include increased feelings of fullness during
and after a meal, reducing the likelihood of over-eating.1
Additionally, the delayed stomach emptying slows down the rate at which glucose from the digested meal enters the blood stream, resulting in a smaller spike in blood sugar levels and helping people with diabetes maintain better blood sugar control.
Importantly, some researchers believe that a lifetime of bloodglucose spikes (from low-fibre meals) may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.5
In the large intestine, soluble fibre is digested (fermented) by good bacteria, which release fatty acids as a by-product.
These fatty acids help keep the bowel wall healthy, potentially reducing the risk of bowel cancer.
The fatty acids produced by the good bacteria may also have beneficial effects in other parts of the body.1,6