Fiber

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Question

What are fiber supplements?

Answer

Dietary fiber is a substance found in plant-based foods; it is needed by the body for overall health and well-being. Among most health professionals, the preference is for people to get the majority of their fiber from foods in their diet. However, many people find that getting sufficient fiber through diet is challenging. Fiber supplements may be used to help people reach their daily fiber intake goals - about 30 grams every day. Typically, you may purchase fiber supplements over the counter in a variety of forms. They come as capsules, tablets, and powders. They also may be available as bulk fiber laxatives, such as psyllium. Many times, people use fiber supplements as laxatives, weight loss aids, and to aid with certain medical conditions like heart disease, gastrointestinal disease, diabetes, hemorrhoids, and high cholesterol.

If you have narrowing of your esophagus or intestines, do not take fiber supplements as there is risk of choking or obstruction. If you do not take supplements with sufficient water, there is a risk the supplement could swell in your throat or esophagus and cause choking. Additionally, there is risk of constipation if you do not drink enough water while taking supplements. You should not take these supplements if you have difficulty swallowing.

Most medical professionals recommend that you have at least 25 grams of fiber a day. Fiber helps you to feel fuller and helps with digestion. Most foods have the fiber content listed on the nutritional label.

It is possible that fiber supplement use will delay or reduce how your body absorbs other medications and nutrients from food. It may be good practice to take other drugs anywhere from one to four hours after you have taken fiber supplements. Though rare, there is risk of an allergic reaction. Stop taking the supplements immediately and seek medical help if you experience allergy symptoms such as hives, rash, itching, vomiting, chest pain, trouble breathing, or trouble swallowing.

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