Fiber Supplement Pros and Cons: How and When to Use Them

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Fiber is part of a healthy diet. It promotes regular bowel movement and keeps the digestive system healthy. It protects from cardiovascular diseases and boosts your weight loss efforts. Fiber also lowers cholesterol level and reduces blood pressure. It also stabilizes the glucose level in the blood, minimizing the chances of overeating.

If you’re not getting enough fiber, you become bloated, constipated. You become prone to overeating because of the sporadic spike in your sugar level. But before you take fiber supplements to get more fiber, there are important things to consider. After all, too much of a good thing can be bad for you too. In today’s post, we are delving deep into the pros and cons of fiber as well as the proper way to use them:

Advantages of Fiber Supplements

Regulates Bowel Movement

Are you constipated? If you are, then it’s a sign that you’re not getting enough fiber from your diet. You probably eat protein-based foods, instead of fiber-rich foods. If that is the case, then you will benefit from taking fiber supplements. Fiber regulates bowel movement by bulking up the stool for easy elimination. It also minimizes the occurrence of diarrhea.

Protects from Gastrointestinal Disorders

Do you suffer from heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Are you afflicted with peptic ulcer, gastritis or Crohn’s Disease? Then you could use fiber supplements to ease symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders. Fiber alleviates the symptoms associated with gastrointestinal diseases.

Cuts the Risk of Cancer

Did you know fiber can help cut the risk of colon cancer significantly? That’s right! Because fiber bulks up the stool, cancer-causing compounds are eliminated from the large intestines. Toxic buildup is also removed safely from the colon. This limits the body’s exposure to harmful compounds.

Disadvantages of Fiber Supplements

Habit-Forming

All types of bulk-forming laxatives are addictive. Taking fiber supplements could make the digestive tract reliant on the extra fiber. Essentially, you become so used to taking extra fiber that the habit causes irreversible damage to the digestive tract.

Drug Interactions

Yes, fiber can interact with various drugs.  For instance, Psyllium, which is used in fiber supplements, can neutralize the potency of digoxin, Coumadin, lithium, and carbamazepine. Guar gum, which is also a source of fiber, can block the absorption of the following meds: digoxin, acetaminophen, bumetranide, metformin, penicillin, and more. To be on the safe side, consult your doctor first before taking fiber supplements.

Dehydration

Too much fiber can suck out all the water from the body. And when you’re not drinking enough water, you become dehydrated. This leads to constipation, among other health risks. If you’re taking fiber supplements, make sure you increase your water consumption by 4 to 8 ounces.

Factors to Consider before Taking Fiber Supplements

Do not take fiber supplements without asking your doctor first. If you need more fiber, increase your fiber consumption gradually. Also, spread your fiber intake throughout the day. You want the body to adjust to the increased fiber consumption.

Water is critical to a healthy gastrointestinal tract. You want to keep yourself hydrated so you don’t become constipated.

Finally, do not take fiber supplements with other medications at the same time. For instance, if you have to take a certain drug, take it an hour before taking fiber supplements. This minimizes the risk of drug interactions with fiber.


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