Fiber keeps your digestive system healthy and may also lower cholesterol and blood sugar. However, the typical American diet falls short of the recommended 25 to 38 grams of fiber you need each day. It's best to get your daily fiber from food, but transitioning to a high-fiber diet is often challenging. If you're having trouble meeting your goals, a fiber supplement can help boost your intake.
Commercial Fiber Supplements
Metamucil, Benefiber and Fibersure are common fiber supplements available in forms like powder and chewable tablets. They provide between 3 and 5 grams of fiber per serving. Metamucil contains the soluble fiber psyllium, while Benefiber uses the soluble fiber wheat dextrin, and the ingredient in Fibersure is inulin -- an insoluble fiber. Both soluble and insoluble fiber benefit digestive health. Soluble fiber absorbs water, slows digestion and may lower cholesterol. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and keeps food moving through your digestive system.
Whole Food Fiber Supplements
While commercial supplements usually provide one type of fiber, whole food supplements supply a mixture of both types of fiber. Standard Process Whole Food Fiber and Garden of Life Super Seed are two examples. The Standard Process supplement contains fiber from a mixture of oats, beets, rice bran, carrot and apple and provide 3.5 grams of fiber per serving. The Garden of Life supplement contains fiber from various seeds like flax, chia, sunflower and sesame and provides 6 grams of fiber per serving. In addition, whole food supplements provide other nutrients besides fiber. For example, the Garden of Life Supplement contains essential omega-3 fats.
DIY Fiber Supplements
An easy and affordable options is to make your own fiber supplement. Purchase a bag of whole flaxseed or chia seeds and grind them using a coffee grinder, or purchase them already ground. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed or chia provides close to 4 grams of fiber. Add ground flax or chia to your smoothie or yogurt in the morning for a homemade fiber supplement. As an added benefit, both contain omega-3 fats.
Fiber Supplement Tips
Raising your fiber intake increases the amount of gas in your digestive tract and may cause discomfort. Bring your intake up slowly to decrease the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. Drink 8 ounces of water with your fiber supplement and drink plenty of water throughout the day -- six to eight glasses -- to avoid constipation. Eat a healthy diet that contains fiber from oats, whole wheat and other whole grains; beans and other legumes; and fruits and vegetables.
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids
- National Fiber Council: Comparison of Powder Fiber Brands
- MedlinePlus: Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Seeds, Flaxseed
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Fiber
- Photo Credit Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images
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