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The United States has one of the lowest per capita intakes of fiber in the world. Therefore, increasing daily fiber intake either through diet or with supplements is recommended for many Americans. While increased dietary or supplemental fiber can result in bloating and gaseous distention, changing your fiber intake gradually can reduce this. Most patients will adjust to supplemental fiber in one or two weeks. There are several supplemental fiber products on the market containing any of the following:

  • Psyllium seed husk powder contains soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Flax seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Rice / wheat bran contains insoluble fiber
  • Apple, citrus, or grapefruit pectin contains soluble fiber
  • Guar or xanthum gum contains soluble fiber
  • Oat bran contains both soluble and insoluble fiber
  • .
These may be taken separately with water and with or without meals. When taken before or during a meal they can reduce the appetite, resulting in fewer calories being consumed.

Soluble fiber is found in varying quantities in all plant foods, including:

legumes (peas, soybeans, and other beans)
oats, rye, chia, and barley
some fruits and fruit juices (particularly prune juice, plums and berries)
certain vegetables such as broccoli and carrots
root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions (skins of these vegetables are sources of insoluble fiber)
psyllium seed husk (a mucilage soluble fiber).
Legumes also typically contain shorter-chain carbohydrates indigestible by the human digestive tract but which may be metabolized by bacterial fermentation in the large intestine (colon), yielding short-chain fatty acids and gases (flatulence).

Sources of insoluble fiber include:

whole grain foods
bran
nuts and seeds
vegetables such as green beans, cauliflower, zucchini (courgette), and celery
the skins of some fruits, including tomatoes.
 

 
 

Supplemental Fiber can help with the following:
 
 
Digestion  IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
 Many medical professionals believe that soluble fiber helps regulate stool frequency and consistency in people with IBS. Food sources of soluble fiber include:

Oat/Oat bran
Dried beans and peas
Nuts
Barley
Flax seed
Fruits such as oranges and apples (without skins)
Vegetables such as carrots
Psyllium husk


Apple peels and potatoes contain starch, which IBS patients have trouble breaking down, and should be avoided until bacterial populations are restored that can handle the starches.

See also the story found under IBS and Probiotics.

  Constipation
 Psyllium is a popular fiber supplement which cleanses the intestines and promotes softer stools. It is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

  Diarrhea
 While insoluble fiber causes looser stools, soluble fiber helps hold stools together. It can be helpful for people who have diarrhea, or loose stools. This fiber works by absorbing water and forming a soft, sticky gel. As a result, stools form and hold together better when soluble fiber is included in the diet.

Infections

  Yeast / Candida
 Candidal toxins can be reduced by using a water-soluble fiber source such as guar gum, psyllium seed, or pectin, which can bind to toxins in the gut and promote their excretion.
 
 


KEY
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended







GLOSSARY

Carbohydrates:  The sugars and starches in food. Sugars are called simple carbohydrates and found in such foods as fruit and table sugar. Complex carbohydrates are composed of large numbers of sugar molecules joined together, and are found in grains, legumes, and vegetables like potatoes, squash, and corn.

Colon:  The part of the large intestine that extends to the rectum. The colon takes the contents of the small intestine, moving them to the rectum by contracting.

Fatty Acids:  Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.

Flatulence:  Abnormal amount of gas in the stomach and intestines.

Flax:  Flax Seed or Flax Oil. Flax oil is nutty-flavored oil that is pressed out of flax seeds and is one of the richest sources of Essential Fatty Acids (especially Omega-3 oil), a vital element for good health. The oil making process removes many of the seed's phytoestrogens which offer several health-related benefits including reducing the risk of cancer and alleviating menopausal symptoms. Many choose to use the whole seed because of its fiber and lignan content. Flaxseed oil is light- and temperature-sensitive and must be stored in the refrigerator.

Mucilage:  Preparation consisting of a solution in water of the viscous principles of plants; used as a soothing application to mucous membranes.