Takeaway: Good fiber sources include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lentils, and nuts. If you want to increase your daily fiber intake, incorporate these food items into your meals. Fiber slows down the rate by which your bloodstream absorbs sugar which stabilizes blood sugar levels. If you have food allergies and can’t get fiber from food, then this list of supplements might help you increase your fiber intake.
Fiber is a compound found naturally in the food we eat. You might have heard that following a high-fiber diet can aid in weight loss, but did you know that fiber has more beneficial uses than just that? In this nutritionist’s guide, you’ll learn about the different types of fiber, where you can get them, and how you can use fiber supplements for various medical purposes.
What is Dietary Fiber?
You’ve probably seen or heard about dietary fiber from meal plans and other weight loss regimens before. But what is dietary fiber? As its name suggests, dietary fiber is fiber that you get from your diet, i.e., from the foods you eat on a daily basis.
Good fiber sources include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lentils, and nuts. High-fiber foods include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Chia seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Kidney beans
- Split peas
- Sweet potatoes
If you want to increase your daily fiber intake, incorporate these food items into your meals. However, if you have food allergies or intolerance related to the items on this list, you might need to take a fiber supplement.
Types of Dietary Fiber
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. You can get them from different types of food, and they perform different functions in the body.
Soluble fiber comes from fruits, legumes, and oats. While your gastrointestinal tract breaks down the food that you eat, soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance that helps your bowels hold on to water. A high-fiber diet ensures that your stool is hard enough (but not too hard) for easy and comfortable excretion.
Insoluble fiber comes mostly from whole grains and vegetables. Unlike soluble fiber, it does not dissolve while your body digests food. Instead, it helps to push stool along your gastrointestinal tract so that you can defecate with ease.
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
To recap what soluble fiber vs. insoluble fiber means, here is a helpful comparison:
- Fiber that you get from the food you eat
- A type of dietary fiber that dissolves while your body digests the food that you eat.
- Helps your bowel hold onto water.
- A type of dietary fiber that does not dissolve while your body digests the food that you eat.
- Helps to push stool along your gastrointestinal tract.
Both soluble and insoluble fibers can be found naturally in the foods you eat such as dietary fiber. However, in some special cases, you might need to take soluble fiber supplements and insoluble fiber supplements if you can’t eat certain types of fiber sources.
Why is Fiber Important?
Aside from aiding your bowel movements, why is fiber important? What does dietary fiber do?
Fiber slows down the rate by which your bloodstream absorbs sugar which stabilizes blood sugar levels. On the contrary, a low-fiber diet can cause a spiking and crash of blood sugar levels which is responsible for unnecessary food cravings, and as a result, weight gain.
But what about fiber supplements? Do fiber supplements work? What are the benefits of fiber supplements?
There is no scientific evidence that incorporating a dietary fiber supplement into your daily routine is harmful. In fact, you can benefit from a regular intake of natural fiber supplements.
However, it is recommended that you consult a doctor before taking fiber supplements for specific medical reasons. For example, if you have irritable bowel syndrome, a doctor can prescribe the right type of fiber supplement, whether that’s in capsule, powder, or chewable tablet form.
With that said, here are some of the different types of fiber supplements for different medical conditions:
Fiber Supplements for Constipation
Constipation happens when there is a high level of constraint or difficulty in emptying the bowels due to hardened stool. Common symptoms of constipation include:
- Defecating less than three times a week;
- Lumpy or hard stools;
- Feeling a blockage in the rectum that restraints smooth bowel passing;
- Inability to pass stool without putting pressure on your abdomen using your hands.
The following reasons can cause constipation:
- Anal fissure
- Bowel obstruction
- Bowel structure
- Colon or rectal cancer
- Neurological problems around the colon and rectum
If you’re experiencing chronic constipation, two separate studies have shown that increasing your fiber intake can help relieve your problem.
Another solution is to take fiber supplements for constipation. To be exact, you should try soluble fiber supplements such as:
- Wheat dextrin
Alternatively, you can try this smoothie recipe to relieve constipation:
- 6 prunes, pitted
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup crushed ice
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- a pinch of nutmeg
- Put all the ingredients in a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Consume immediately.
Take note, however, that if you already have a high-fiber diet and the problem persists, it may be time to try a different solution. Some people who regularly intake fiber as part of their diet and as a supplement find that lowering their fiber consumption until their constipation passes is effective.
Fiber Supplements for Diarrhea
Diarrhea happens when there is a frequent discharge of loose bowels, usually in liquid form, which can lead to dehydration, abdominal cramps and pain, and other symptoms including:
- Blood in stool
Some of the most common causes of diarrhea include:
- Bacteria and parasites from contaminated food and/or water;
- Viruses such as Norwalk virus, cytomegalovirus, viral hepatitis, and rotavirus in children;
- Medications such as antibiotics that disturb the natural balance of good and Bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract;
- Fructose and artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol for those who have an intolerance to them.
There are two types of diarrhea: acute and chronic. Acute diarrhea is a condition that lasts for only one to three days. On the other hand, chronic diarrhea lasts for several days to a few weeks and can cause more aggravated and dangerous side effects.
The best fiber supplement for diarrhea is a soluble fiber supplement. It may sound counterintuitive to take soluble fiber supplements for diarrhea when you also use it for constipation. But these supplements can actually anchor your stool to a more desirable consistency so that you can avoid both of these conditions.
Try these fiber supplements if you have diarrhea:
You can also make this smoothie to relieve symptoms of diarrhea:
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup oat milk
- ½ cup steel-cut oats
- ¼ cup raspberry Kefir
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Put all the ingredients in a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Consume immediately.
Fiber Supplements for Weight Loss
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that consuming 30 grams of fiber daily could help you lose weight. It speeds up metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves the body’s insulin levels. Fiber is also a natural appetite suppressant, so it prevents food cravings that are often the cause of weight gain.
At the same time, a lot of people are using fiber supplements weight loss regimens to help in achieving their weight and fitness goals. The best fiber supplements for weight loss include:
- Metamucil Sugar-Free Orange Smooth
- FiberCon Fiber Therapy for Regularity
- Konsyl Original Formula Daily Fiber
- Benefiber Fiber Supplement
- Garden of Life Raw Fiber Beyond Organic Fiber
If you want to incorporate more fiber into your diet, try this recipe:
Stir-fry Broccoli with Peanut Sauce
- 8 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup red bell pepper, sliced
- ½ cup yellow onion, sliced
- 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 2 ½ tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- Steam broccoli florets over 1 inch of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender-crisp.
- Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet and stir-fry bell pepper, onion, and garlic for about 3 minutes.
- Add steamed broccoli into the skillet and cook for another 3 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk together peanut butter, tamari, rice vinegar, and light brown sugar. When the mixture is smooth, add the cornstarch.
- Add your liquid ingredients into the skillet and cook for another minute until the sauce thickens.
- Remove vegetables from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.
Fiber Supplements for IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is different from diarrhea and constipation. This condition affects the large intestine and involves stomach pain and discomfort, irregular bowel movements (either diarrhea or constipation), and varying stool consistency (liquid, soft, or hard). There may also be mucus in the stool and excess gas due to IBS.
Serious signs of this chronic gastrointestinal disorder include:
- Abdominal pain
- Iron deficiency disorder or anemia
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nighttime diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
The good news is there are fiber supplements for IBS that you can take to relieve symptoms. The fiber supplement psyllium is highly recommended because it can improve chronic symptoms in a few months with regular intake.
However, be careful when treating IBS with fiber supplements. IBS with diarrhea and IBS with constipation will require different treatments. Therefore, consult a doctor and ask for a prescription that’s specific to your case.
Fiber Supplements for Kids
Kids can also benefit from children’s fiber supplement. A natural, and often chewable, fiber supplement for kids can help ease diarrhea, constipation, and other gastrointestinal problems in children.
The Best Fiber Supplements for Kids Include:
- Smarty Pants Kids Complete and Fiber
- Lil Critter Fiber Gummy Bears Digestive Support
- Fiber Advance Gummies Fiber Supplement
Note, however, that it is always best to address a child’s eating habits before giving them supplements of any kind. If they lack fiber in their diet, introduce more fiber-rich foods that can prevent gastrointestinal problems from occurring in the first place.
Here is a high-fiber and kid-friendly recipe that you can make for your kids:
Healthy Chicken Nuggets
- 1 lb. chicken, minced
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup quinoa
- ½ cup cheese, finely grated
- ½ cup broccoli, cooked
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup quinoa
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
- Preheat your oven to 400F or 200C. Prepare a baking tray by lining it with wax paper.
- Cook the quinoa in the water until the water boils, and then simmer for another 10 minutes.
- In a bowl, mix chicken, cooked quinoa, and cooked broccoli until well combined.
- Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, and thyme in a separate bowl.
- Use your hands to create nuggets from the chicken, quinoa, and broccoli mixture.
- Dip each nugget in the breadcrumb mixture, and place in a row on the baking tray.
- Bake nuggets for 10 minutes, then turn and bake for another 10 minutes.
Fiber Supplements for the Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that forces the body to use fat as its primary fuel source. When you follow a keto diet, you avoid carbohydrates that are usually where you get your fiber from.
This is why you need a keto fiber supplement. A low-carb fiber supplement will ensure that you still get your daily fiber needs without breaking your diet. Therefore, you can maximize results and lose weight as quickly and efficiently as you can.
Our List of the Best Fiber Supplements
For daily intake, what is the best fiber supplement? Here’s a shortlist of the best fiber supplements that you can incorporate in your daily routine:
- Inulin: Fiber Choice
- Methylcellulose: Citrucel
- Psyllium: Metamucil
- Wheat Dextrin: Benefiber
As a final reminder, although these high-fiber supplements are effective in providing your daily fiber needs, it is still advisable to consult a doctor if you’re using them to treat a specific medical condition, if you’re pregnant, or if you’re taking medications for other health problems or concerns. You should also increase your daily fiber intake naturally, via the food you regularly eat.