Types Of Dietary Fiber Supplements
From bran tablets to purified cellulose, fiber supplements come in a variety of forms – and flavors, too.
While whole foods (fruits, vegetables nuts, and grains) obviously pack more health benefits than a supplement due to the many other nutrients they offer, a diet rich in fiber (from any source) is far better off than one which lacks the recommended daily intake of 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day.
For those who are learning to eat properly, or are just simply too set in their ways to make a major diet shift, substituting commercial sources of fiber with products such as Metamucil, Hydocil, is not such a bad idea.
In fact, just one tablespoon a day can provide up to 15 grams.
Like fiber-rich foods, fiber supplements make stool soft, they ease constipation, relieve irritable bowel syndrome and ultimately contribute to overall digestive health.
The leading brands use a range of different fibers in their products, the most common these, however, is psyllium, (a soluble plant fiber). Other brands use methylcellulose, (a plant), calcium polycarbophil, (a synthetic fiber) and guar gum, a water soluble fiber that acts as a bulk forming laxative.
All of these fiber supplements contain soluble fiber, meaning they form gel when mixed with liquid, helping food to move more smoothly through the gut.
There’s really no easy way to tell which fiber supplement is best, and many health experts says it may be case trial and error before settling on one that works best for you.
Fiber supplements are frequently sold over-the-counter in a powder form which comes in a tub and is mixed into water or soft food. However, there are now several other ways to take fiber. Metamucil produce a wafer form of their product, while Benefiber produce chewable orange tablets, and Fibercon comes in capsule form.
Similar to recommendations for individuals increasing fiber in their diet with whole food, those who take fiber supplements are also encouraged to drink plenty of water or other fluids, otherwise fiber supplements can actually make your constipation worse.
Individuals with chronic intestinal problems are advised to consult with their doctor before adding a fiber supplement to their diet. They should also ask their doctor or a pharmacist whether a fiber supplement may interact with any medications they take as they’re known decrease the absorption of certain medications. Fiber supplements can also reduce blood sugar levels, which may require an adjustment in your insulin dosage if you have diabetes.