Have you ever been instructed to “take a fiber supplement” to treat IBS-related diarrhea or constipation? But received little guidance on which brand to pick or how frequently to take it. Or have you been instructed to take fiber supplements without being taught how to boost your intake?
According to the latest recommendations, women should eat up to 25 g of fiber daily, while men should eat up to 38 g. Most Americans, though, do not consume anything like this much. If you do not consume enough fiber, you may get diarrhea or constipation, which can worsen IBS symptoms. The inverse is also accurate.
Having too much fiber might also result in unpleasant symptoms. Finding the ideal balance and figuring out which types of fiber are best for you are key. Health food stores, big box stores, drugstores, and online retailers all sell over-the-counter fiber supplements.
Health Advantages of Fiber Supplements
Natural sources of fiber include whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Fibre is a form of carbohydrate. In addition to being essential for maintaining regular bowel motions, fiber has many other advantages that go far beyond digestive health. Due in large part to the excessive consumption of processed and fast meals in the average American diet, the majority of individuals in the United States do not consume enough fiber from their diet.
If you are not meeting the U.S. government’s recommendations for daily fiber consumption, one alternative is to take fiber supplements. Supplemental fiber is not meant to take the place of naturally occurring fiber in meals. However, fiber supplements might be a good choice if you are not receiving enough, perhaps because you are aging and consuming smaller meals. The following are some possible advantages of fiber supplements:
- Ensuring consistent, healthy bowel motions
- Treatment or prevention of constipation
- Reducing the signs and symptoms of diverticular illness or IBS
- Lowering blood cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of developing heart disease
- Assisting in blood sugar reduction (to better manage or fend off type 2 diabetes)
- Helping people lose weight (since fiber fills them up and provides few calories)
- Possibly lowering the danger of colon cancer
Potential Negative Effects of Fiber Supplements
Most experts agree that taking a fiber supplement is not only safe but also good for your health. There could be negative effects from using that medication, such as:
- Taking too much could cause constipation or diarrhea.
- Blood sugar level reduction (if you are on diabetes medication, you may need to change the doses)
- Some of these negative effects, such as gas, cramps, and bloating, usually go away as your body gets used to the extra fiber you’re consuming.
The Bottom Line
You can increase the amount of dietary fiber you get from food by taking fiber supplements. They can promote regular bowel movements, treat severe cases of constipation, and assist in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels. There is proof that they can lower the risk of colon cancer and even heart disease. Over-the-counter fiber supplements are available and are generally safe.
Speak with your healthcare professional first if you have a medical issue that you believe might aid you by taking a fiber supplement. Before beginning to use fiber to treat your diarrhea or constipation, you may need to check for a digestive disorder if you frequently experience either.