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Fiber is essential for healthy digestion, and high fiber diets are linked to improved heart health.

Food sources high in fiber include:

  • split peas
  • lentils
  • black beans
  • lima beans
  • artichokes
  • raspberries

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that women aim for 25g of fiber per day, and men should consume 38g. However, only 5% of the population meet those numbers (1, 2).

There are fiber supplements available in many forms that can help those who want to increase the amount of fiber in their diets if they aren’t eating or getting enough from food.

Some of the reasons people use fiber supplements include preventing constipation, lower cholesterol, manage weight, glucose, and diverticulitis (1).

Soluble fiber absorbs the water in your food and becomes a gel-like substance, slowing digestion. This limits how much is absorbed in your intestines, helping to reduce cholesterol (4, 5).

It may also regulate blood sugar and even lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, soluble fiber is associated with lowering blood pressure, which may lead to reduced cardiovascular risk (6, 7).

You can find soluble fiber in foods like:

  • oatmeal
  • flax seed
  • barley
  • dried peas
  • oranges
  • apples
  • carrots
  • beans

Insoluble fiber

Insoluble fiber does not absorb water and adds bulk to your stool. It helps to move food through your digestive system quickly and can relieve constipation. Insoluble fiber has been associated with a decreased risk of diverticulitis and cardiovascular disease (8,9).

You can find insoluble fiber in foods like:

  • seeds
  • nuts
  • dark green leafy vegetables
  • wheat bran
  • brown rice
  • bulgar

Fiber Choice

  • Benefits: Inulin helps maintain gut bacteria.
  • Fiber content: 3 grams per 2 tablets.

Inulin is a prebiotic fiber that can help cause favorable changes to your colon’s bacterial population (10,11).

This is important because these digestive bacteria play a significant role in how well you absorb nutrients and even produce hormones related to anxiety and appetite (12, 13, 14).

Inulin can be found in chewable tablet form as Fiber Choice, which is 100% prebiotic fiber.

Citrucel with SmartFiber

  • Benefits: Less likely than psyllium to cause bloating and gas.
  • Fiber content: 2 grams per Tbsp, 1 gram per 2 caplets.

Another common soluble fiber is methylcellulose, a semi-synthetic form of cellulose, an essential structure in plants (15, 16).

Methylcellulose is commonly found on the shelves in products like Citrucel with SmartFiber, which is 100% soluble fiber and found in powder or caplet form (17).

It’s also sold as a thickener and emulsifier in the culinary world. Because of methylcellulose’s chemical structure, it only dissolves in cold liquid and not hot (18).

Metamucil

  • Benefits: Eases painful symptoms of IBS and Crohn’s disease.
  • Fiber content: 6 grams per 2 Tbsp, 2 grams per 5 capsules.

Psyllium, which is also called ispaghula, is made from the husks of the Plantago ovata herb’s seeds. Psyllium contains 70% soluble fiber, which means it can help increase feelings of fullness and slow digestion (19, 20, 21).

It also contains 30% insoluble fiber, so it passes through the gut relatively intact, providing bulk and helping to regulate bowel movements (21).

Besides the overall good feeling of being regular, research has shown that psyllium — found as Metamucil — can ease the painful symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and anal fissures (22, 23, 24).

Benefiber

  • Benefits: It’s gluten-free and can be added to food when cooking.
  • Fiber content: 3 grams per 2 Tbsp.

Wheat dextrin —commonly sold under the brand name Benefiber— is a manufacturing byproduct of the milling process of wheat. It’s tasteless and can dissolve in both hot and cold liquids (25).

It can also be used in cooking and doesn’t thicken. Like most soluble fibers, it also helps regulate your digestion and stabilize blood sugar (26).

Benefiber contains only soluble fiber, so it’s helpful to people trying to manage their blood sugar, like people with type 2 diabetes (6).

While there isn’t evidence to suggest fiber supplements are harmful, it’s better to get fiber from natural sources to help ensure you’re better able to take advantage of the health benefits that dietary fiber provides (27).

Whether you increase your fiber intake using a supplement or by eating a higher fiber diet, be sure to increase your fluid intake as you increase your fiber. Fluid is required to help push fiber through the digestive tract.

Increasing your dietary intake of fiber is generally considered safe for most people, but if you’re experiencing gastrointestinal problems beyond occasional constipation, talk with your healthcare provider before adding fiber supplements to your routine.