In addition to its beneficial role in disease prevention and healthy weight management, fiber also helps support the body’s natural cleansing and detoxification processes. Many experts recommend eating between 25 to 35 grams or even more of fiber each day to maintain your health, so it is important to understand the two specific types of fiber and how they work.
Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber help purge unwanted toxins from the body. Soluble fiber (found in fruit, beans, oats, legumes and nuts) dissolves in water and leaves the digestive tract slowly. As it moves through the intestines it works like a sponge, soaking up toxins and capturing them in order to prevent their reabsorption into the bloodstream.
Insoluble fiber (found in wheat bran, dried beans, whole grains and seeds) is not water-soluble; it passes through the digestive tract virtually intact. During its journey through the intestines it helps to “sweep” the colon free of debris by removing toxins from the intestinal wall. It also tones the bowel muscles by creating resistance and giving them something to push against, thus promoting peristalsis (the wave-like motions that move food through your intestines). Peristalsis is necessary for healthy elimination, and healthy elimination is an important step in ridding toxins from the body. But just how do those toxins enter in the first place?
The buildup of toxins in your body is the result of both external and internal toxins. External toxins such as pesticides and pollutants come from our surrounding environment. They seep into the earth, water and air and can cause severe health problems. Internal toxins, however, come from within. They are the waste products that result from everyday physiological processes such as energy production and digestion. Since many people do not digest protein, starches and fats efficiently, they overproduce internal toxins. The body absorbs both the internal and external toxins and circulates both to the liver. Along the way they can be deposited in the organs and tissues, which can cause inflammation and lead to poor health.
Because fiber is a powerful ally in your battle against toxins–absorbing the toxins that come from the liver and gallbladder to the gut (as well as cholesterol, estrogen and old red blood cells)–it is essential to get plenty of fiber in your diet. Consuming a ratio of about 65% insoluble fiber to 35% soluble fiber is ideal, as it reflects the natural balance found in whole foods. The best way to provide a balance of soluble and insoluble fiber is to eat a variety of fiber-rich foods. Legumes and unrefined grains such as oats, brown rice and whole wheat are excellent sources of mixed fibers. Among fruits, apples, avocados, oranges, bananas, grapefruit and berries provide the most fiber per serving, and high-fiber vegetables include spinach, endive, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower.