Media FAQ

Fiber Supplements

  1. What are fiber supplements?
    Fiber supplements (also known as bulk-forming laxatives) are available without a prescription to help increase consumption of fiber. Supplements primarily consist of natural polysaccharides (e.g. psyllium) and semisynthetic or synthetic polysaccharides (methylcellulose and calcium polycarbophil, respectively). While fiber supplements have been traditionally used to promote laxation and regularity, the National Fiber Council advocates the use of all natural dietary fiber supplements to increase overall health and well-being.
  2. How do fiber supplements work?
    Fiber supplements work by increasing volume and water content of stool. That action stimulates peristalsis (the muscular contractions in the digestive tract), decreases colonic transit time and improves stool consistency.
  3. What are the differences between fiber supplements?
    Taking a fiber supplement can provide added health benefits to a high fiber diet. Consumers have a variety of choices when choosing a supplement, so it is important to understand the main differences between supplements.

    As a general rule, powder fiber brands deliver soluble fiber to your body, while solid dose brands can deliver either soluble or insoluble, depending on the product. In addition to knowing which type of fiber you are consuming, scan the label to see if the active ingredient is natural. Some supplements are produced from all natural materials like psyllium or inulin while others use synthetic ingredients.
  4. My doctor recommended I take a fiber supplement. Which brand should I choose?
    It depends on what you are taking it for. Many cardiologists recommend fiber supplements to their patients, but not all fiber supplements contain soluble fiber which has proven cholesterol-lowering abilities. If you are taking a supplement for heart health, Metamucil powder containing psyllium (an all natural soluble fiber source) is your best option. Whatever your condition, you should choose a supplement derived from a natural source such as psyllium.
  5. When should I take my fiber supplement?
    Itís best to take your fiber supplement with a large glass of water. Fiber supplements contain all of the fiber and none of the liquids you would find in a high-fiber food, so itís important to wash it down with lots of water.
  6. Are fiber supplements addictive?
    No. Taken in their proper dosage fiber supplements are not addictive. When choosing a fiber supplement, look for a natural supplement that works well with your diet routine.
  7. Are there side effects associated with fiber supplements?
    Natural fiber use is often associated with bloating and gas. In contrast, semisynthetic fiber and synthetic fiber are less likely to cause bloating and gas. However, abdominal cramping, bloating, flatulence and distension are common side effects. Allergic reactions have been reported but are uncommon. When introducing fiber supplements into your diet it is important to slowly increase the amount of fiber and increase your water intake to avoid adverse effects.
  8. I heard an expert on the Today Show say that fiber supplements are not recommended. Are you saying they are safe and recommended?
    The general consensus among members of the National Fiber Council is that fiber should come from food first. The reality is, according to a 2007 survey conducted by the NFC, the average American does not consume the recommended amount of fiber needed per day. According to the survey, most Americans arenít even familiar with foods that are high in fiber:

    • While 65 percent of those surveyed try to eat foods that are high in fiber, more than two thirds of respondents (88 percent) did not know the number of grams of fiber recommended per day for a healthy body. The NFC recommends 32 grams of fiber per day for a healthy body
    • 62 percent of respondents believe that meat is a source of fiber. Note: There is no fiber in meat. Fiber can only be derived from plant products.
    Based on these findings, the NFC believes that fiber supplements should be used to fill the ďfiber gapĒ for those individuals who canít reach the recommended daily goal with food alone.


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