Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber

Question: What is the difference between soluble fiber and insoluble fiber and how much do I need?


Answer: There are two types of fiber found in fiber-containing foods. Soluble fiber is the type of fiber that helps control blood sugars in people with diabetes and may also help lower cholesterol levels. It does this by binding with water to form a gel that regulates the flow of materials through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber also slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood, which helps improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Good food sources of soluble fiber include peas and beans (lentils, split peas, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans and lima beans) as well as oats, barley, apples, oranges and carrots. Insoluble fiber is the type of fiber that promotes a healthy intestinal tract, promotes regularity and helps prevent hemorrhoids. This type of fiber does not bind with water, but rather increases stool size, which helps to scour the intestinal walls of waste matter that can damage the colon. Good food sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, wheat bran and many vegetables.

For optimal health, aim for 25-35 grams of fiber daily by eating a variety of fiber-rich foods including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts and seeds. Doing this will help reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and other intestinal disorders. Start with a goal of 5 grams per meal and increase to 8-13 grams per meal over a 2-3 week time period to help your body adjust to the change. Fiber binds water, so to get the best “cleansing” value from fiber, remember to drink 2 liters of hydrating fluids each day.


Pam Speich, RD


If you have nutrition topics you would like to see in Dietitian’s Discussion, please email your questions and ideas to our registered dietitians at

Pam Speich, RD

Director of Nutrition Services 

American Family Fitness

Pam Speich is the Director of Nutrition Services at American Family Fitness and the Registered Dietitian at the Short Pump American Family Fitness location. She graduated from Carson Newman College with a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honors in Foods and Nutrition with an Emphasis in Dietetics. She completed her Dietetic Internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and earned the credentials Registered Dietitian (RD) in 2000.

Pam’s experience includes nutrition counseling, wellness program development, public speaking, wellness research and writing, sales and marketing, and food labeling including nutrition facts panels, ingredient statements, and allergen declarations. Her areas of nutrition specialty include weight loss, heart-healthy diets, diabetes, celiac disease, food allergies and intolerance, and low thyroid conditions. What Pam loves most about being a dietitian is the opportunity to witness lives changed for the better through the power of food.

When Pam is not at the club, you are likely to find her at a sporting event with one or more of her three boys, traveling with her husband, or working on a home improvement project.

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