It can be challenging to get the recommended level of fiber in your diet solely from the foods you eat. People who are living with Crohn’s Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome may be told they should increase their daily fiber intake.
Before making a decision to start taking fiber supplements on your own, it’s a good idea to discuss your plan with your doctor. He or she can recommend a product that will help you get the results you are looking for, especially if you are currently taking any medication. Taking a fiber supplement can interfere with how your body absorbs certain drugs, such as aspirin, carbamazepine (anti-seizure drug also used to treat nerve pain) and warfarin (an anticoagulant).
The majority of people only get about half the recommended level of fiber (20-35 grams) from the foods they eat. Fruits and vegetables are an important source of fiber, followed by whole grain products. Including fiber in your diet provides a number of health benefits, including:
- Bone health
- Building muscle
- Improved immune system
- Weight control
Fiber supplements are considered safe to take on a daily basis. They work to soften the stool and ease the discomfort of constipation. If you decide that you are going to try one of the fiber supplement products available, be sure that you drink plenty of fluids. Not doing so can make a problem with constipation worse. Another helpful tip for those who are going to use a fiber supplement is to start slowly to avoid problems with gas.
Fiber supplements are available in a number of formulations. Most people are familiar with products like Metamucil® powder. This product is mixed with water and the manufacturer recommends that it be taken three times daily. If you are going to increase your fiber intake, be sure that you are getting enough liquids as well. Plan to drink at least eight ounces of water for every serving of fiber powder.
Fiber supplements are also available in capsule forms, for people who are concerned about the texture of a powder product and don’t want to drink something that feel gritty on the tongue. Plan to drink at least eight ounces of water if you choose to take this type of fiber supplement.
Manufacturers have also introduced high-fiber wafers to appeal to consumers who want to get their fiber on the go. These products come packaged in single servings that can easily be added to a packed lunch, backpack, tote or purse. The wafers are available in several flavors to give them more of a cookie-like taste.