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CONSTIPATION

How Can Fiber Supplements Help Occasional Constipation?

5 Easy Remedies for Occasional Constipation Relief

Can you remember the last time you pooped? Regularly going #2 can mean anything between three times per day to three times per week. You may be constipated if you’re well past your regular schedule and feel pain when you try to pass stool. But you’re not alone. Approximately 20 percent of the world’s population is affected by constipation.1

You’ve probably been told to eat more beans, oats, or leafy green vegetables. Fiber is the power ingredient in these foods that makes you poop. Evidence shows that increasing dietary fiber can help constipation in children and adults.1

Increasing your fiber intake is the most common behavioral modification recommended to help with constipation because the right fiber improves your stool frequency and consistency.2

Fiber is present in lots of foods, so it may sound easy to just add more fiber to your diet. However, less than 10% of Americans reach the daily recommended fiber intake.3 That’s where fiber supplements can come in to help bridge the gap between recommendations and real-world diets. And some, like Metamucil, can help with occasional constipation to keep you regular.*

Find out how fiber supplements can help your occasional constipation.

How Fiber Supplements Help Occasional Constipation

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, is the part of plant-based foods that your body cannot digest. Fiber is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The daily recommended fiber intake is 28 grams.4

If you are experiencing occasional constipation, chances are that you’re not getting enough fiber from your diet. Occasional constipation is defined as those times when you have bowel movements less than three times per week. Since it may be challenging to get all your fiber from foods if you’re part of the roughly 90% of Americans who do not eat enough fiber,3 consider adding a fiber supplements like Metamucil to your diet.

First, let’s discuss how fiber can help occasional constipation. Spoiler: Not all fibers work the same for regularity!

There are two commonly recognized types of fiber – soluble and insoluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber

Insoluble fiber, when added into a liquid like water, does not mix. They remain separate and visible in your glass and speed up the passage of food through the stomach and intestines, adding to the bulkiness of stool.5 By increasing bulk, insoluble fiber speeds up your stool traveling through the colon, which helps with bowel movements.6

Soluble fiber

Soluble fibers mix into water, and can have different impacts based on other properties like viscosity and fermentation.

• Viscosity refers to whether or not the fiber thickens the liquid so it flows and moves differently.

• Fermentation refers to how the bacteria in our digestive tract interact with the fiber.

Some soluble fibers completely disappear in the glass, and you can barely tell they are present. These are soluble non-viscous fibers. Others, called soluble viscous fibers, mix throughout the liquid, but change the liquid to make it thicker so it flows differently. These soluble viscous fibers are the ones that have been shown to help with occasional constipation. They do this by increasing the water content in stool to soften it, and by providing bulk to move it through the digestive tract.

Now consider the impact of fermentation on fibers. Soluble non-viscous fibers tend to be fermented, or broken down. Once fermented, they are not present in the colon to deliver a regularity benefit. However, if the fermented fiber leads to an increase in the good bacteria present in our digestive tract, it is called a “prebiotic”, as is the case with inulin, the fiber in Metamucil Fiber Gummies.

Pro Tip: Not all fermented fibers specifically feed our good bacteria and can be called prebiotics.

It is important to note that although both soluble and insoluble fiber play slightly different roles, both can help with occasional constipation in their own way. Keep reading to learn more.

Why Fiber Supplements?

Only 10% of adults consume enough daily fiber, so most need to supplement to get fiber-related benefits.3 In other words— 90% of us could use more fiber in our diet. The average American is getting just over half the fiber recommended, so many of us have a fair-sized gap to make up. Ideally, we’d all change our diet to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other high fiber foods. However, if the dietary improvements you’re targeting do not fill the gap, that’s where fiber supplements like Metamucil are a great option.

Not all fiber supplements are as effective as others for promoting regularity. It all depends on the properties of the type of fiber in that supplement. Before you choose a fiber supplement, determine what benefits you want out of it so you can choose the best one for you.

For example, fermented fibers won’t help with occasional constipation since the fiber is no longer present after being broken down. But others are prebiotics and feed your good bacteria.7

What Fiber Supplement Types Help with Occasional Constipation

Fibers need to remain intact to help with occasional constipation. Insoluble fibers and soluble viscous fibers are two groups that tend to meet this requirement.

Though insoluble fiber remains present through the digestive system and can encourage moisture in the stool, there are not many insoluble fiber supplement options. When choosing a fiber supplement, it is important to consider the characteristics of the specific fiber ingredient, and the benefits it offers.

Psyllium fiber is the gold standard fiber for occasional constipation.*

Psyllium

Psyllium, a soluble viscous fiber, forms a gel when exposed to water in the body. It’s not readily fermented, so it remains present throughout the digestive tract. Psyllium holds moisture to soften and add bulk to your stool to help with occasional constipation.* It also comes with a few bonus benefits, like helping lower cholesterol to promote heart health† and helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels.*

Metamucil powder supplements are a great source of psyllium husk fiber, and Metamucil is the only leading brand that contains plant-based psyllium fiber^. It’s also the #1 Doctor recommended fiber brand.

The following are other over the counter fibers each offering different benefits.

Methylcellulose

Methylcellulose is a soluble fiber, however, it’s non-gel-forming, limiting the potential health benefits. Methylcellulose is a fiber that can help with occasional constipation.

Inulin

Inulin is a non-viscous fermentable fiber found in various plants like chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke. Inulin is a well-recognized as a prebiotic fiber, meaning that it promotes growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.

Wheat Dextrin

Wheat Dextrin is a non viscous fiber derived from wheat starch. It has no effect on occasional constipation, though it is commonly found in fiber supplements.9

How Metamucil psyllium fiber supplements help your body maintain regularity

Scientific evidence demonstrates that Metamucil psyllium powder is water-soluble, gel-forming, and not readily fermented. Fiber supplements that contain plant-based psyllium can help with regularity for several reasons, including the following8:

• Psyllium husk is a fiber that holds water in your digestive tract to soften and bulk stool making it easier to pass.

• Psyllium husk also helps to with loose stool by absorbing excess water, making your stool more formed.

Metamucil powders and capsules are formulated with plant-based psyllium fiber helping promote regularity.

  1. Yang J, Wang H-P, Zhou L, Xu C-F. Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: A meta analysis. World J Gastroenterol WJG. 2012;18(48):7378-7383. doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i48.7378

  2. Fathallah N, Bouchard D, de Parades V. [Diet and lifestyle rules in chronic constipation in adults: From fantasy to reality…]. Presse Medicale Paris Fr 1983. 2017;46(1):23-30. doi:10.1016/j.lpm.2016.03.019

  3. USDA. Usual Nutrient Intake from Food and Beverages, by Gender and Age. Accessed April 27, 2021. https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400530/pdf/usual/Usual_Intake_gender_WWEIA_2015_2018.pdf

  4. How to add more fiber to your diet. Mayo Clinic. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

  5. Soluble and insoluble fiber: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Image. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19531.htm

  6. Bae SH. Diets for Constipation. Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2014;17(4):203-208. doi:10.5223/pghn.2014.17.4.203

  7. McRorie JW, Chey WD. Fermented Fiber Supplements Are No Better Than Placebo for a Laxative Effect. Dig Dis Sci. 2016;61(11):3140-3146. doi:10.1007/s10620-016-4304-1

  8. McRorie JW. Evidence-Based Approach to Fiber Supplements and Clinically Meaningful Health Benefits, Part 2. Nutr Today. 2015;50(2):90-97. doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000089

  9. Portalatin M, Winstead N. Medical Management of Constipation. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2012;25(1):12-19. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1301754

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