Seems like there is a new fiber product on the market every day like Benefiber, which promises to help with digestion or a more polite way of saying constipation. Do they work? Most of these fiber products are actually chemicals derived from corn or wheat (most likely GMO). For some, especially those with food sensitivities, you may experience a negative reaction like diarrhea from these supplement fiber products.
And, for some, they don’t work at all as it doesn’t address the real cause of constipation. Other causes of constipation are poor gallbladder and liver function. Or, it could other underlying causes such a food sensitivity, a gut infection like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial over) and hormonal imbalances. Drinking the mystery chemical is not going to address any of these and may make things worse.
So why not get a healthy fiber from food instead of mixing a mystery compound into water and drinking it?
There are two main types of fiber – soluble and insoluble – which simply means one is blended with water easily and others do not. Both have great benefits for overall health but I think the soluble fiber wins out on the benefit side. So what is the 5 key benefits of soluble fiber?
- Constipation – Soluble fiber works two ways in promoting regular movement. Regular movement requires a healthy flow of bile acid from the liver and soluble from food promotes the production of bile acids. Secondly, it helps to pull water into the intestines thereby reducing constipation and dry stool.
- Blood Sugar – Helps to slow the absorption of the sugars in food and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber actually helps to regulate blood sugar and is very beneficial for diabetics and those with Metabolic Syndrome.
- Lowers LDL Cholesterol – Bile acids are produced from LDL cholesterol and soluble fiber promotes the production of bile acids, thereby having the potential to lower LDL cholesterol.
- Mineral Absorption – Some fiber products especially those that are insoluble, bind to minerals from our food, thereby reducing the absorption of minerals like magnesium. Soluble fiber increases the absorption of these minerals.
- Gallbladder Support – Soluble fiber increases the demand for bile acids and this helps to prevent a congested gallbladder and the formation of gallstones.
What are foods high in soluble fiber?
- Oat Bran, Oatmeal, Barley, Root Vegetables (Beets, Turnips, Sweet Potatoes), Legumes, Brussels Sprouts, Flaxseed
Incorporate these foods into your diet rather than depending on a “fiber supplement”. These foods are high in fiber and all it takes a 1- 2 servings per day to enjoy the benefits of these vegetables and grains. Even if you are Paleo – you can soluble fiber into your diet with these healthy vegetables. Legumes are probably one of the healthiest sources of soluble fiber – you can digest those legumes or beans, then it is time for a digestion evaluation as these not just provide fiber but the food for the good bacteria in the gut to thrive.
If you are eating these foods and are still constipated, then it may time for a digestion evaluation as it could be your gallbladder or even your liver.
Contact me today to learn more about my Heal the Gut, Healthy You program.
Eileen Schutte, MS, CN, FMN – One of my biggest passions is to help clients overcome food intolerances like histamine intolerance and sensitivities so that they can enjoy food again. My other passion is nutrigenomics, speaking to your genes through nutrition with focus on digestive health, autoimmune conditions, and skin health. I hold a master's degree in functional nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut graduating Summa Cum Laude. After completing my masters I went on to get my certification in Functional Medicine Nutrition, and am a Certified LEAP Therapist (food sensitivities program). In addition, I am pursuing advanced education in Nutrigenomics through the American College of Nutrition.