You recognize the perks of eating more fiber, from weight management to lower cholesterol and healthier blood sugar levels. You’re not sure you can meet the recommended 25 grams per day from the foods you eat and you are wondering if taking a fiber supplement is the way to go. You might even be thinking that taking fiber in the form of a pill is a preferred way to reach your fiber goals. In this post, we weigh the pros and cons of fiber-filled supplements vs. fiber-filled foods.
Fiber supplements come in the form of soluble powders, chewables, and capsules, and generally contain “functional fiber” that either occurs naturally or is manufactured in a lab. Depending how much you take, the amount of fiber these supplements contain is variable. The benefits or “pros” of choosing a fiber supplement include their ease and convenience for increasing fiber intake. The concerns or “cons” include the potential for overdoing the amount – adding a lot of fiber too quickly can lead to side effects including cramping, gas and bloating.
High amounts of fiber may also interact with medications, decreasing their ability to be absorbed. That takeaway – a poor diet plus a fiber supplement yields little health benefit beyond reducing constipation.
High-fiber foods, on the other hand, have so much more to offer than fiber supplements. Many foods that contain fiber are also filled with many other nutrients, all working together to enhance health. Fruits and vegetables, for example, are high in fiber in addition to vitamins A, C, and other vital plant chemicals. Whole grains are high in fiber as well as B vitamins, vitamin E, and healthy fats – none of which occur in fiber supplements. NuGo Fiber d’Lish is filled with these whole grains and provides you with 48% of your daily fiber, making it a great option. Beans and legumes are a good source of protein in addition to their fiber content. Apart from their nutritional profiles, fiber-filled foods taste a whole lot better than fiber supplements, are enjoyable to eat, and overall more satisfying.
Pros and Cons
While we don’t need dietary supplements, we do need food. And weighing the pros and cons of fiber-filled supplements vs. fiber-filled foods, food has so much more to offer – vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants, healthy fats, energy, flavor, satiety, social engagement, and the list goes on and on. You are less likely to enjoy a fiber supplement with a friend than you are a healthy lunch, and when it comes to food there is more to consider than just the nutrition.
Anne Marie Kuchera, MS, MA, RD, LPC is a registered dietitian, and both a licensed nutritionist and licensed professional counselor. She manages community-based obesity prevention and preventive health and wellness initiatives through Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.