5 fiber supplement myths

5 fiber supplement myths

Soluble fiber is finally getting the attention it deserves as a superfood, and we are thrilled. Increasing soluble fiber is one of the most safe and effective ways to boost health and prevent disease! However, with all of the fiber-talk at Florasophy, we’ve learned that there are some major misconceptions around when, why and how to take soluble fiber, and how a supplement can be a great way to give yourself a soluble fiber boost. We want to make sure that we clear up any confusion that might affect how you choose and use soluble fiber.

Myth #1: Fiber supplements are like laxatives

While a boost of soluble fiber can keep you regular and provide “loosening” effects, it doesn’t stimulate the bowels in a way that causes urgency. In fact, it’s the most gentle way to relieve constipation because it absorbs moisture in the colon making for smoother and softer poop. Unlike laxatives that promote smooth muscle contraction or liquify stool, soluble fiber adapts to you. This means that it can be just as effectively used for diarrhea as constipation. Soluble fiber’s adaptive nature can soften stool or absorb excess water leading to firmer bowel movements. It’s the ultimate tool for perfect poop.

Myth #2: Fiber is a short-term fix

Soluble fiber has amazing benefits that can improve symptoms ranging from constipation, bloating and diarrhea to hormone imbalance, inflammation, hypertension, high cholesterol and more. However, targeting 15-20 grams of soluble fiber and 20 or more grams of insoluble fiber per day should be a long-term goal to maintain optimal health and prevent disease. This is because soluble fiber promotes healthy digestion, detoxification, heart hearth and hormones everyday, not only when you’re treating a symptom.

Myth #3: Fiber supplements are only important as I get older

Fiber is not just for older folks, a diet high in fiber is critical from the day we start eating solid food. In fact, kids today, more than ever, are suffering the consequences of generations of low fiber foods and poor diets. One of the most health-promoting habits we can implement for kids and adults of all ages is boosting soluble fiber intake. This is because it sets the stage for healthy digestion, a robust immune system, consistent and effective detoxification of environmental pollutants, hormone balance, reduced allergies and inflammation and better brain function. Why would you wait until old age to get all of these benefits?

Myth #4: I eat really healthy, I don't need a fiber supplement

An often overlooked fact is that even those eating a plant-based and whole food diet struggle to achieve the goal of 15-20 grams soluble fiber per day. This is because while vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains provide ample amounts of insoluble fiber, not all of these healthy plants are rich in soluble fiber. In fact, Florasophy analyzed the diets of healthy whole-food customers and found that even those eating a vegan diet rich in beans, lentils, seeds and avocado, weren’t hitting optimal intake. Even with the most ideal diet, an extra dose of soluble fiber can make a noticeable difference in overall health.

Myth #5: All fiber supplements are the same

Nope, there are huge variations in fiber supplements and you deserve to know what you’re really getting.

First, avoid supplements with preservatives, dyes and flavorings. These additives can irritate the immune system and intestinal barrier, doing more harm than good. While a flavoring might make your fiber more tasty, soluble fiber on its own has an earthy and very tolerable taste.

Second, your soluble fiber supplement should be a blend of many fibers. Much like you wouldn’t eat just one vegetable everyday, you need a variety of soluble fibers to feed different microbes and perform different tasks in your GI tract.

Third, your fiber should be organic. Why add more toxins to a product that improves your natural detox pathways. Non-organic fiber can contain a concentrated level of harmful pesticides and heavy metals and other toxins.

Fourth, understand that while there are many different kinds of soluble fibers on the market, some of those fibers aren't so great. For example, wheat dextrin does initiate bowl movements, but it does so primarily by irritating the intestinal wall. Why choose an irritant when your fiber could be doing so much more? Inulin is also a common single source soluble fiber, however it is not always well tolerated by users and has been associated with negative outcomes in research.

Now, you’re armed with the important soluble fiber facts so you can choose fibers that work for you!

About Megan Barnett, MS, CNS

Megan Barnett, MSMegan Barnett is a functional medicine practitioner in Portland, Oregon. In her clinical practice, she helps patients identify the root cause of their health problems, then designs individualized and evidence-based approaches to alleviate symptoms and help their bodies heal. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Kansas State University and a Master of Science in Nutrition and Functional Medicine from University of Western States.