All You Need to Know About Fiber Supplements

What is dietary fiber and is it good for health? Here's all you need to know if you're thinking about starting any fiber supplement.

Fiber supplements have become increasingly popular over the years, owing to the fact that it is said to be good for your health.

Not sure if you need fiber supplements? Can you get fiber anywhere else, and how much do you need each day?

Read on to find out all you need to know about fiber supplements.

What is dietary fiber?

Dietary fiber – which is also known as bulk or roughage – are parts of plant foods which your body cannot digest. Unlike other components in plant foods which is digestible, fiber remains intact in the stomach and is passed through the body as is.

Fiber is classified as either soluble or insoluble. The former easily dissolves in water, forming a gel like material. This helps lower glucose and blood cholesterol levels.

The latter, on the other hand, promote healthy movement of food and materials through your digestive system, helping improve digestive problems such as constipation and irregular bowel movement.

Health experts recommend at least 38 grams of fiber for adult men and 25 grams for adult women. These numbers change as people grow older, with elderly men needing only 30 grams, and 21 grams for women.

Should I use fiber supplements?


Is there any way to get fiber aside from fiber supplements? There is!

In fact, health experts recommend that we get our daily fiber needs from natural and whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. This is because we also get other important nutrients aside from them as well.

If we can get all the fiber we need from plant based foods, why do some people rely on fiber supplements? However, many people struggle to get their recommended dose daily, hence the need for fiber supplements.

These supplements are made from functional fibers, which are extracted from plants or animals. They are sold in different forms including oils, powders, capsules and tablets.

The most common types of functional fibers include psyllium, inulin, oligofructoce, pectin, cellulose, beta-glucans, polydextrose and acacia fibers.

What are the possible side effects of fiber supplements?


Fiber supplements are generally easy and safe to use, which is why they are recommended by doctors and health care professionals. However, taking too much can cause uncomfortable side effects and can reduce your body’s ability to absorb important nutrients from food.

Too much fiber can cause bloating, gas and abdominal discomfort. It can also increase your bowel movement and cause loose stools. This is quite true for fibers like psyllium, inulin, guar gum, polydextrose, resistant starch and oligofructose.

Aside from abdominal problems, excess fibers bind to calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, taking them out of the body with them. Pectin and guar gum have also been shown to reduce the absorption of nutrients like beta carotene, lycopene and lutein. This decreases your chances of absorbing these nutrients.

Even with these possible risks, adults who stick within their recommended amounts of fiber daily are highly unlikely to suffer from them.

Some drug interactions

Fiber supplements may greatly affect your body’s absorption of certain drugs. Psyllium, for example, may reduce the effects of carbamazepine, digoxin and Coumadin.

Pectin may also interact with the absorption of lovastatin. If you are on prescription medication, be sure to let your doctor know that you are taking or planning to take fiber supplements.

Getting the most out of fiber supplements


There are things that you can do to avoid possible side effects and drug interactions, and ensure that you get the most out of your supplements.

First, visit your doctor and check with him or her before starting any fiber supplement. Do not rush and increase your daily intake. Start little and gradually increase the amount each day.

You can also try to spread your fiber intake daily and drink plenty of liquids to avoid stomach problems and discomfort. Lastly, make sure that you take fiber supplements separately from your medication. Take them at least one hour before or two hours after taking fiber supplements.

Are you taking fiber supplements? Come and share your experience with everyone!

About the author

Justine R

On an eternal quest for happiness, Justine tries to lead a positive lifestyle by giving back to the universe and following natural approaches to parenting, health, food and beauty. When she's not on the beach, she keeps herself fit (and sane) by running and doing yoga.

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