Fiber supplement is a medication used to treat constipation. It increases the bulk in your stool, an effect that helps to cause movement of the intestines. It also works by increasing the amount of water in the stool, making the stool softer and easier to pass.
Some types of fiber supplements can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Bile acids help you to digest dietary fat and are normally reabsorbed to be used again. These fiber supplements form a thick gel that traps bile acid and prevents its re-absorption and is then eliminated as food waste. In response, your liver removes cholesterol from the bloodstream to make more bile acids, lowering serum total and LDL cholesterol.
Studies also reveal that people with diabetes who take soluble fiber supplements have slightly lower blood sugar than diabetics who don’t add this type of fiber to their diets, a research review finds.
Types of Supplements
There are many different types of fiber supplements. Some of them have important health benefits, while others are mostly useless. Some popular types of fiber supplements include:
• Dose – One tablespoon 1 to 3 times daily.
• Available forms – Orange flavored, sugar-free.
• Form of fiber – Methylcellulose, powder equals 2 grams per tablespoon.
• Dose – One tablespoon equals 2 grams soluble fiber and 1.5 grams of insoluble fiber.
• Available forms – Flavors include orange and tropical fruit as well as sugar-free.
• Dose – One caplet equals 500 mg of polycarbophil. Take 1 to 4 caplets a day.
• Dose – One teaspoon equals 3.5 grams of psyllium.
• Form of fiber – Psyllium.
• Dose – One teaspoon equals 6 grams of psyllium.
• Form of fiber – Psyllium.
• Dose – One teaspoon or one wafer equals 3 grams of insoluble fiber and 2 grams of soluble fiber. Take up to three times a day.
• Available forms – Flavored or non-flavored, sweetened or artificially sweetened, regular or smooth. It comes in wafers, including apple crisp and cinnamon spice.
• Form of fiber – Psyllium
• Dose – One teaspoon equals 4 grams of psyllium. Take up to 1 to 2 teaspoons four times a day.
• Available forms – Mint flavored.
• Form of fiber – Psyllium (stimulant).
• Dose – One tablespoon equals 3 grams of cellulose.
• Form of fiber – Cellulose.
What happens if you take fiber supplements every day?
Taking too much fiber supplements can cause bloating, gas, and constipation. A person can relieve this discomfort by increasing their fluid intake, exercising, and making dietary changes. These uncomfortable side effects of excessive fiber can occur when someone eats more than 70 grams (g) of fiber a day.
What fiber supplement is safe during pregnancy?
Except otherwise directed by your doctor, you should avoid fiber supplements and stick to more nutritional dietary sources of fiber. Some good sources of dietary fiber during pregnancy include:
Fruits: Raspberries, bananas, pears, and apples (both with skin on) contain the highest fiber contents out of any fruit.
Grains: Spaghetti, barley, and bran flakes are the best types of grain-based foods fiber-wise.
What medications can interact with fiber supplements?
Research has shown that fiber supplements can interact with medications you are taking. If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use fiber supplements without first talking to your health care provider.
Antidepressant medications (Tricyclic antidepressants): Dietary fiber has been reported to lower the blood levels and effectiveness of tricyclic antidepressant medications, such as amitriptyline (Elavil), doxepin (Sinequan), and imipramine (Tofranil), in several patients. Reduced dietary fiber intake increased the blood levels and improved symptoms in these patients. Individuals currently taking tricyclic medications should consult a health care provider before increasing fiber intake.
Diabetes medications: While fiber supplements may help to regulate blood sugar levels, they may also interfere with the absorption of anti-diabetic medications, specifically glyburide (Diabeta) and metformin (Glucophage). Therefore, fiber supplements should not be taken at the same time as these medications.
Carbamazepine: Taking soluble fiber such as psyllium with carbamazepine (Tegretol), a medication used to treat seizure disorders, may decrease the absorption and effectiveness of carbamazepine. A health care provider should closely monitor the blood levels of anyone taking both soluble fiber and carbamazepine.
Cholesterol-lowering medications: Combining psyllium or other soluble fibers with cholestyramine (Questran) or colestipol (Colestid), two types of cholesterol-lowering medications known as bile acid sequestrants, may be beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels. Individuals taking these medications should consult a health care provider to determine whether psyllium is safe and appropriate.
Fiber in the form of pectin (from fruit) and oat bran reportedly reduces the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol-lowering medications known as “statins,” including lovastatin (Mevacor) and atorvastatin (Lipitor), and could lead to decreased effectiveness of these medications.
Digoxin: Fiber supplements may reduce the body’s ability to absorb digoxin (Lanoxin), a medication used to regulate heart function. Therefore, fiber supplements should not be taken at the same time as this medication.
Lithium: Clinical reports suggest that psyllium or other soluble fibers may lower lithium levels in the blood, reducing the effectiveness of this medication. Lithium levels should be monitored very closely by a health care provider, particularly if there is any significant change in fiber intake.
Penicillin: In one clinical study, the fiber supplement guar gum reduced blood levels of penicillin. Therefore, it would be best not to take penicillin at the same time as fiber supplements.