“Fiber helps balance blood sugar levels in the body,” says a New York-based dietitian. Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN. “Fiber helps with digestion, regularity and elimination. It helps remove excess hormones from the body and can help lower cholesterol levels. This [also] helps manage hunger levels, prevent cravings and maintain energy levels.
In this way, fiber is a sort of miracle worker for the body. The problem is, with so many unhealthy (and less healthy) options on the market, high-fiber diets aren’t exactly the norm. That’s because fiber is found in plant foods, and Shapiro says a diet naturally high in fiber is one that prioritizes whole foods over processed foods. So, since not everyone is craving fiber-rich plant-based foods, fiber supplements exist to help fill the void.
Keep reading to learn more about the different types of fiber supplements on the market.
Different Types of Fiber Supplements
When you head to your local pharmacy and walk down the supplements aisle, you will come across a variety of different fiber supplements. But don’t get overwhelmed. Byrne says most fiber supplements on the market are similar, just marketed to different groups. “Fiber supplements for kids might have added flavors and a smaller serving size,” she explains. “Fiber supplements marketed for pregnant women are made with psyllium husk, an insoluble fiber that is especially helpful in preventing constipation.”
Nature Made Wellness Ambassador Patricia Banan, MS, RDN, says another key differentiation between fiber supplements is that some are intended solely to meet dietary recommendations for the nutrient while others have intended purposes. “[Some fiber supplements] can be used to promote good gut bacteria,” she says. “Other products contain different types of fiber to help manage specific symptoms related to gut health (constipation, diarrhea, etc.).”
Watch the video to learn more about the importance of gut health:
Overall, the variation in fiber supplements depends on the type of fiber used and the ingredients used in the product. Bannan says fiber can be categorized into soluble or insoluble fiber, which cannot be digested or absorbed by the body. “Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance that passes through the digestive system,” she explains, noting that it has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels in the body. body, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. “Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and adds bulk to help move materials through the digestive system. This can help prevent constipation or difficulty with bowel movements.
The Best Fiber Supplements
The best fiber supplements, like so many things, are subjective. What is ideal for one person may be ineffective for another. It is important to speak with your doctor or personal dietitian before beginning a fiber supplement regimen. With that in mind, below are some of the best fiber supplements based on various common key factors, according to dietitians.
The best prebiotic fiber supplement for adults
Nature Made Fiber 6g Gummies — $20.00
“These gummies are an excellent source of inulin [prebiotic] fiber that promotes the growth of good gut bacteria,” says Bannan. “They provide 6 grams of dietary fiber (6 grams of soluble fiber) for a 3-gummy serving.”
The best fiber supplement for constipation
Organic Indian Psyllium Herb Powder – $16.00
“If you really suffer from constipation, which is common especially in older people and during pregnancy, an insoluble fiber supplement might be best,” says Byrne. “This one is made with psyllium husk, which contains both soluble and insoluble fiber to help keep you regular.”
(FYI: Although fiber supplements can help lessen the effects of constipation, Bannan reminds us that many types of fiber interact differently in the gut. That said, she recommends speaking with your doctor and/or your dietitian to determine which is best for you when gas, bloating and gastrointestinal symptoms are prominent.)
The best fiber supplement for kids
The right daily portion of fiber
Again, this is subjective, varying for men and women, children and adults. “Based on current dietary guidelines, individuals should aim for 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories,” says Bannan. In total, this means that women should aim for around 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should aim for 38 grams, which you may know is far more than one serving of the fiber supplements listed here. -above.
“There’s no maximum for how much fiber you should take in supplement form, but it’s probably best to get no more than a quarter of your daily fiber from supplements to avoid side effects. unpleasant things like gas, bloating and digestive upset,” says Byrne. .
A Final Word on Fiber Supplements
As beneficial as fiber supplements may seem, all the experts we spoke to agree: it’s best to get the majority of your fiber from whole foods. “Supplements are not a replacement for nutritious foods, but rather a way to fill in gaps in your diet that could be causing you problems,” says Byrne. “In fact, fiber supplements probably don’t have the same benefits as fiber-rich plant foods because supplements lack all of the other nutrients these foods provide. [So, while] fiber supplements may help prevent constipation, but they probably won’t lower your cholesterol levels or your risk of chronic disease.
Building on the idea of eating lots of fiber-rich whole foods (like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts), Shapiiro says it’s also important to focus on your hydration. “When you increase fiber, you also need to increase fluids to help the fiber work its way through your system,” she explains.
Watch the video for more tips from a dietitian on supplements:
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