Best Fiber Supplements for Constipation, Diarrhea, and Discomfort
If you’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables, your poop (or lack thereof) is probably showing it. Filling your plate with produce means you’re also filling your belly with fiber, a type of carbohydrate essential for good digestion (and yes, good bowel movements). Everyone knows it can be hard to get your greens, which is why a fiber supplement can be helpful. But there are different types that have slightly different functions.
“Although most Americans don’t get enough dietary fiber, it’s actually found in many foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are all natural sources,” explains Heather Mangieri, RDN, a sports and wellness dietitian in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In reality, to research suggests that 95% of American adults consume less than the 21 to 38 grams daily recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Having enough is crucial not only because it keeps you regular, but Samantha Cassetty, MS, RDexplains that a diet high in fiber is associated with a more diverse microbiome, “which is a sign of a healthy gut.”
Types of fibers
The two types of fibers are Iinsoluble fiber-who doesn’t dissolve in water and promotes the movement of material through the digestive system, increasing stool bulk and promoting bowel regularity, Mangieri says — and ssoluble fiber—which dissolves in water, often forming a thick gel that helps slow digestion and absorption of nutrients. “Including viscous soluble fiber with meals creates a greater feeling of fullness, which can help control food intake and support weight loss efforts,” adds Mangieri. She says soluble fiber is also known for its ability to lower cholesterol and maintain blood sugar levels.
How We Chose the Best Fiber Supplements
We consulted Mangieri and Cassetty, and scoured research and customer reviews to narrow down the best fiber supplements.
Dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. They are not medicines and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent or cure any disease. Be careful when taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, be careful when giving supplements to a child unless their healthcare professional recommends it.
Our top picks
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Best fiber supplement overall
Psyllium husk powder
- For constipation and diarrhea
- Versatile powder form
- Users say it can be slow to dissolve
“Studies have shown that psyllium fiber supplements may help lower cholesterol and lead to better blood sugar control,” says Cassetty. “This type of fiber can also help normalize your bowel habits. So if you suffer from constipation it can help soften the stool and make it easier to pass, and if you have diarrhea it can help create firm stools. She recommends this one because it’s so versatile and natural. Plus, it has great reviews with over 2,000 testimonials and a 4.5-star rating on Amazon.
Best Fiber Supplement Blend
Raw organic fiber supplement
- Contains insoluble and soluble fiber
- Users say it could taste better
This powder supplement contains a blend of soluble and insoluble natural fibers in the form of flax seeds, chia seeds, quinoa and various bean sprouts. There are no added sugars and the recommended daily scoop mixes easily with a glass of water or breakfast cereal.
“I worked with a gastrologist for several years and tried several products. Over-the-counter and prescription fiber. I keep coming back to this product and have been using it for years,” wrote an Amazon reviewer.
Best Psyllium Seed Fiber Supplement
Metamucil Smooth Texture Unflavored
- Over 100 servings
- Without taste
If you’re looking for a psyllium seed husk supplement, Cassetty says this simple formula fits the bill perfectly. The drinkable powder supplement has over 21,000 Amazon reviews and maintains a 4.7 star rating. Users say daily consumption has helped with constipation, diarrhea and maintaining regular bowel movements. Just be sure to choose the version with no added sweeteners, as the sugar-free formula contains aspartame.
“Metamucil has really changed my life. I use 1 tsp every morning with 10oz of water, and have been consistent since adding this to my routine,” writes one reviewer. “This is the first product that has consistently worked for me after years of battling chronic constipation.”
Best Prebiotic Fiber Supplement
Gentle prebiotic solar fiber supplement
- Helps with gas and bloating
- Without taste
- Some users report stomach discomfort
“If you are shopping for a prebiotic fiber supplement, sun fiber is a branded ingredient gentle on your gastrointestinal system“says Cassetty. Sunfiber comes from guar fiber, also known as partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG). Cassetty recommends Cavu’s formula, which is flavorless and prevents excess gas or bloating.
Best Fiber Supplement Gummies
Fruity Bites Gummies Daily Prebiotic Fiber Supplement
If you’re not interested in dissolving powder in your morning glass of water, we don’t blame you. These erasers are not only naturally tasty with no added sugar, but are made from fructo-oligosaccharides, a soluble plant fiber and prebiotic for a healthy gut boost.
“These are the tastiest gummy fibers I’ve had and I’ve tried several,” writes one reviewer.
Best Methylcellulose Fiber Supplement
Citrucel Methyl Cellulose Fiber Tablets
These methylcellulose tablets are marketed for the occasional relief of constipation without the added side effects of gas and cramps. Methylcellulose is a synthetic compound used as a thickener in the culinary world, but acts as a binding soluble fiber in your gut.
“I had IBS for years and Citrucel was the only lasting remedy for my symptoms,” writes one reviewer. “It was recommended to me by my gastro doctor and I never went back. I recommend it to everyone I know,” adds another.
How to Choose and Use the Best Fiber Supplements
While taking a fiber supplement may seem like the solution to your digestive issues, if used improperly, it can wreak havoc in your gut. That’s why Mangieri recommends doing your best to get the fiber you need through diet first.
“However, people with constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, or other medical conditions who are unable to get enough dietary fiber may benefit from a supplement,” she adds. Here are his other tips for trying one:
Start slow: “It’s important to keep in mind how much added fiber you’re consuming,” she says, adding that gradual introduction is crucial. “Increasing dietary fiber too quickly can lead to side effects such as gas, bloating, and cramping.”
Talk to your doctor: Mangieri recommends discussing your plan for starting a fiber supplement with your doctor or a registered dietitian, who can offer professional advice.
Check the label: Look for a product from a reputable manufacturer. “The product should list the fiber source on the packaging, and the company should be able to answer your questions,” Mangieri says.
What’s in a fiber supplement?
Common ingredients you’ll see on labels are natural soluble fiber, psyllium seed husk, and inulin (which is also a prebiotic), as well as soluble synthetic fiber like methylcellulose (a manufactured version of cellulose ). Flaxseed and wheat bran are insoluble fibers that may also appear on ingredient lists.
Next, consider a fiber’s fermentability (how quickly it breaks down in the gut). Fermentable fiber, Mangieri explains, acts as prebiotics that can feed the digestive system with the “good bacteria” it needs to maintain a balanced microbiome. Most prebiotic fibers are soluble, according to Mangieri, but some are insoluble.
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