We know we are supposed to get enough fiber during the day to help with digestive and overall health, but sometimes we may not get our daily dose of fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. Therefore, we may take one of many fiber supplement powders, fiber granola bars, fiber shakes, etc. to make up the difference. Are these fiber substitutes really good for us, or should we just keep it real with our fiber?
It may be difficult to get your fruits and vegetables in every day, since statistics show that only about 14% of Americans get the full 2-3 servings of fruits AND veggies each day, but taking fiber supplements may not be the safe and healthful answer to this issue. The Mayo Clinic reports that fiber supplements such as pills and powders may cause digestive discomfort such as abdominal bloating and gas, so if you don't drink the proper amount of water and other fluids each day, this could be an ongoing issue with regular fiber supplement use. In addition, fiber supplements may interact with other medications such as aspirin or coumadin, and can also reduce blood sugar levels, which is a good thing, but for those with diabetes, you may have to adjust your medications accordingly to prevent your sugar from getting too low.
Finally, some products are fortified with fiber, which may help you reach your daily intake of fiber, but will keep your fiber intake limited to a processed form of fiber, which may not be digested as well as real fiber from fresh and whole foods. Some fiber-fortified products, when eaten, especially in excess, can cause digestive discomfort, bloating, gas, and sometimes diarrhea since some fiber-fortified products may also contain sugar alcohols to add sweetness and flavor.
Therefore, it is best to just keep it real with your fiber and eat whole, fresh fruits and veggies, whole grain products such as oatmeal, wild rice, and quinoa, and limit your intake of fiber supplements and fiber-fortified foods. If you are on the go, and don't have time to cook fresh veggies or whole grains, it is acceptable to use steam-bag products of frozen veggies or whole grains as long as they are free from any preservatives that can add unnecessary sugar or sodium. Stick to the roots of the earth and eat whole fresh foods since they are not only better for you than their fiber-fortified counterparts, but will taste better too!
Source: Mayo Clinic