Fiber Supplements for Constipation
Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.
The use of fiber supplements for constipation isn’t a new concept in medicine. They have been promoted for many years by clinicians. Increasing fiber intake can help not only with constipation but also with a whole variety of health conditions, especially those that are related to the digestive tract. Keep reading to learn more.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the benefits of fiber supplements for constipation and other gastrointestinal conditions. But before we get into how fiber supplements can help with constipation, we’ll need to know the basics of constipation a little bit more. So, let’s get started.
Table of tables
- Constipation - an overview
- Constipation - symptoms
- Constipation - causes
- What is fiber?
- Benefits of fiber supplements for constipation
- How to use fiber supplements
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
Constipation - an overview
Constipation is a condition in which the stool or fecal material moves across the colon (large intestine) very slowly. The water part of the fecal material gets reabsorbed in the large intestine, hence it becomes dry and hard. This makes it difficult for the stool to pass through the colon.
Constipation - symptoms
Although signs and symptoms of constipation may vary from person to person depending on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms are as follows:
- Fewer than three events of fecal evacuations a week
- Dry, hard, and lumpy fecal material
- Difficulty passing stools or painful evacuations
- A feeling of incomplete bowel movements
Constipation - causes
Constipation can occur for a wide variety of reasons and more than one factor may also be involved at the same time. Low intake of fiber is one of the most common causes of constipation.
In addition to not getting enough fiber, there are also various reasons, such as:
- Gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Pelvic floor disorders that make the colon cause delayed emptying
- Slowed movement of bowels that slows down the movement of fecal material in the colon
- Certain dietary supplements and medications such as iron supplements, calcium channel blockers, antacids, or medicines that are used to treat pain or depression
- Certain events of life such as pregnancy
- Poor lifestyle and eating habits such as lack of physical activities, sleep deprivation, and not taking enough fluids
- Changes in daily routine such as when traveling or following a weight loss regimen
- Health conditions like diseases that affect hormone levels such as thyroid disease and any types of anorectal blockage such as tumors that cause intestinal obstruction
- Excess emotional stress and anxiety
What is fiber?
Fiber refers to the roughage or bulk parts of plants isolated from vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Unlike other food ingredients such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that are broken down and get absorbed by the body, fibers cannot be digested or get absorbed by the body even though they are edible. Rather, they pass through the entire digestive tract quite intact and get out of the body.
Benefits of fiber supplements for constipation
Fiber supplements can hugely help those who have constipation. There are two forms of fiber - soluble and insoluble. While both types of fiber can help prevent and treat constipation, soluble fiber is supposed to be more efficient. Psyllium and glucomannan are two major sources of soluble fibers.
Multiple studies suggest that the benefits of fiber supplements are not only limited to just constipation but also extended to weight loss, functional gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and inflammatory bowel disease as well.
An updated 2022 review and meta-analysis of RCTs (randomized controlled trials) published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that supplementation of fiber is effective in improving constipation.
How to use fiber supplements
Individual doses of fiber supplements for constipation vary from person to person depending on the severity of the symptoms and which fiber one considers taking. However, in general, most clinicians recommend 10 g to 30 g of psyllium fiber per day which can be taken one to three times just following a meal.
Precautions and side effects
Though fiber supplements are truly safe for most people when taken as required, excess intake may cause mild side effects such as diarrhea or loose stools, lowered blood sugar levels, flatulence, abdominal pain, and bloating. But these are uncommon and generally mild that are easily reversible.
Besides, in addition to fiber supplements, certain lifestyle and diet modifications are also important for getting rid of constipation. These may include getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and fluids, exercising or having physical activities, and keeping stress and anxiety in check as well as others. It’s always best to work with a professional naturopath to develop a proper plan for relieving constipation.
The benefits of fiber supplements for constipation and gastrointestinal disorders have been shown in plentiful scientific studies. Fiber supplements can help normalize bowel movements and improve bowel functions.
In addition to relieving constipation, they can help with reducing symptoms of functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, losing fat and maintaining body weight, controlling blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol levels, and even reducing the risks of various cardiovascular disorders and certain types of cancer such as colorectal cancer.
It’s always best to work with a professional naturopath or healthcare provider to develop a plan for healthy lifestyle habits and to determine the exact doses of fiber supplements.
Here you can see Vorst’s Fiber Mix Organic Psyllium Husk Powder
Here you can see Vorst’s Glucomannan Konjac Powder