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Fibre supplements are considered to be a form of functional dietary fibre that assists with digestive health. Dietary fibre has two main components: soluble and insoluble fibre, which are components of plant foods, such as legumes, whole grains and cereals, vegetables, fruits and nuts or seeds. A diet high in regular fibre consumption is generally associated with supporting overall health, digestion and lowering the risk of heart health concerns.
There are two main types of fiber and each type of fibre plays a different role in digestion. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the stool and helps food pass through more quickly and efficiently through the digestive tract. It also helps balance the pH in the intestines and may prevent issues like diverticulitis; pockets in the bowel that potentially become inflamed and lead to much discomfort. Soluble fibre attracts water and forms a gel-like substance with food as it’s digested. This in turn slows down digestion and helps one feel full faster, which is important in weight management. It may also help lower the risk of heart health concerns, regulate blood sugars and help reduce low-density cholesterol (LDL).
While too much fiber can have negative effects, a proper amount of fibre is important for your health. Fibre is essential for regular bowel movements, healthy cholesterol levels, and blood sugar management. As well as healthy gut bacteria and preventing chronic long-term health issues.
The daily fibre intake for adults on a 2000-calorie diet is 25 grams per day. This number may also depend on age or gender. Women under 50 should have 21 to 25 grams per day and men under 50 should include 30 to 38 grams per day. Children between ages 1 and 18 should eat 14 to 31 grams daily. There is evidence that even higher fibre intakes may significantly reduce the risk of chronic health concerns.
The best sources of fibre are whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Dietary fibre is the edible parts of plants that are resistant to digestion and absorption in the small intestine, with complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine. Dietary fibre supplements often include polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, lignin and associated plant substances. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, children and adults should get a minimum of 20 grams of fibre daily. Always consult your healthcare professional before taking a fibre supplement if you are unsure.
Excess fibre can cause constipation or diarrhea, bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort, especially when not enough water intake is consumed. Researchers have indicated that over-consumption of fibre may cause constipation through a build-up of undigested matter in the digestive tract.