COVID-19: PeaceHealth is open, with safe virtual and in-person visits.
Learn more about our safety measures and visitor restrictions.

Fiber

Uses

Dietary fiber comes from the thick cell wall of plants. It is an indigestible complex carbohydrate. Fiber is divided into two general categories-water soluble and water insoluble.

What Are Star Ratings?

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
3 Stars
Diverticular Disease
20 grams daily, plus extra fluids
A fiber supplement may improve constipation related to diverticular disease.

In people with diverticular disease, a fiber supplement may improve constipation. The results of double-blind of fiber supplementation for diverticular disease have been mixed. One study demonstrated a beneficial effect of fiber supplementation in people who suffered from abdominal pain and pain with bowel movements; whereas a second study indicated no improvement in these symptoms following fiber supplementation. Nevertheless, long-term fiber supplementation may protect against the complications of diverticular disease.

3 Stars
Type 2 Diabetes
15 grams (about 1 tablespoon) daily
Taking fiber supplements may improve blood glucose control and reduce insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes.
Studies have consistently shown that high intake of dietary fiber improves insulin resistance and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20–30%. This effect is mainly attributable to grain and cereal fibers, rather than fibers from fruits and vegetables, and may be due in large part to their positive impact on the gut microbiome. Meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials in people with type 2 diabetes have found that supplementing with approximately 13–15 grams of soluble fiber per day can improve blood glucose control and reduce insulin resistance. Psyllium, guar gum, oat bran, and inulin are examples of soluble fibers or soluble fiber sources that have been shown to be beneficial in type 2 diabetes.
2 Stars
Diarrhea
Adults: 20 grams daily soluable fiber; for young children: 6.5 grams daily soy fiber
While fiber from dietary or herbal sources is often useful for constipation, it may also play a role in alleviating diarrhea.

While fiber from dietary or herbal sources is often useful for constipation, it may also play a role in alleviating diarrhea.

2 Stars
Obesity
5 to 7 grams daily
Several trials have shown that fiber supplementation from a variety of sources accelerated weight loss in people who were following a low-calorie diet.
Fiber supplements are one way to add fiber to a weight-loss diet. Several trials have shown that supplementation with fiber from a variety of sources accelerated weight loss in people who were following a low-calorie diet. Other researchers found, however, that fiber supplements had no effect on body weight, even though they resulted in a reduction in food intake.
2 Stars
Type 1 Diabetes
Refer to label instructions
Taking fiber supplements may help to stabilize your blood sugar.
Dietary fiber has been found to have a small but notable positive impact on blood glucose control in people with type 1 diabetes. Clinical trials in people with type 1 diabetes suggest fiber supplements, when taken before meals, may reduce the post-meal rise in blood sugar. More research is needed to determine if regular use of fiber supplements benefits long-term blood sugar control in type 1 diabetes.
1 Star
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with fiber may help you find the right balance of regularity without episodes of diarrhea.
Limited research has suggested that fiber might help people with IBS. However, most studies find that IBS sufferers do not benefit by adding wheat bran to their diets, and some people feel worse as a result of wheat bran supplementation. The lack of positive response to wheat bran may result from a wheat sensitivity, which is one of the most common triggers for food sensitivity in people with IBS. Rye, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, vegetables, and psyllium husks are good sources of fiber and are less likely to trigger food sensitivities than is wheat bran. Except for psyllium, little is known about the effect of these other fibers in people with IBS.

How It Works

How to Use It

Western diets generally provide approximately 10 grams of fiber per day. People in less-developed countries consume 40 to 60 grams per day. Increasing fiber intake to the amounts found in such diets may be desirable.

Where to Find It

Whole grains are particularly high in insoluble fiber. Oats, barley, beans, fruit (but not fruit juice), psyllium, chia seed, and some vegetables contain significant amounts of both forms of fiber and are the best sources of soluble fiber. The best source of lignan, by far, is flaxseed (not flaxseed oil, regardless of packaging claims to the contrary).

Possible Deficiencies

Most people who consume a typical Western diet are fiber-deficient. Eating white flour, white rice, and fruit juice (as opposed to whole fruit) all contribute to this problem. Many so-called wheat products contain mostly white flour. Read labels and avoid "flour" and "unbleached flour," both of which are simply white flour. Junk food is also fiber-depleted. The diseases listed above are more likely to occur with low-fiber diets.

The benefits of eating whole grains are largely derived from the beneficial constituents present in the outer layers of the grains, which are stripped away in making white flour and white rice. Preliminary research has found that women who ate mostly whole grains had a lower mortality rate than women who ate a comparable amount of refined grains.1

Interactions

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

Fiber reduces the absorption of many minerals. However, high-fiber diets also tend to be high in minerals, so the consumption of a high-fiber diet does not appear to impair mineral status. However, logic suggests that calcium, magnesium and multimineral supplements should not be taken at the same time as a fiber supplement.

Bran, which contains insoluble fiber, reduces the absorption of calcium enough to cause urinary calcium to fall.2 In one study, supplementation with 10 grams of rice bran twice a day reduced the recurrence rate of kidney stones by nearly 90% in recurrent stone formers.3 However, it is not known whether other types of bran would have the same effect. Before supplementing with bran, people should check with a doctor, because some people—even a few with kidney stones—do not absorb enough calcium. For those people, supplementing with bran might deprive them of much-needed calcium.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • Acetaminophen with Codeine

    Constipation is a common side effect of codeine. Increasing fluid and fiber intake can ease constipation.

  • Codeine

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Codeine Phosphate

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Fentanyl

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Fentanyl Citrate

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Hydrocodone

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Hydrocodone Bitartrate

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen

    A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Hydromorphone

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Hydromorphone (PF)

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Levorphanol Tartrate

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Meperidine

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Meperidine (PF)

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Methadone

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Morphine

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Morphine (PF)

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Morphine Liposomal (PF)

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Morphine-Naltrexone

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Oxycodone

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Oxycodone Myristate

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Oxymorphone

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Prednisone

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Propoxyphene

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Propoxyphene Napsylate

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Tapentadol

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Tramadol

    Propoxyphene may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Propoxyphene-containing products may be taken with food to reduce or prevent GI upset. A common side effect of narcotic analgesics is constipation. Increasing dietary fiber (especially vegetables and whole-grain foods) and water intake can ease constipation.

  • Verapamil

    Constipation is a common side effect of verapamil treatment. Increasing fluid and fiber intake can ease constipation.

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • Lovastatin

    Soluble fiber is found primarily in fruit, beans, and oats, but it is also available separately as pectin, oat bran, and glucomannan. Two sources of soluble fiber—pectin (found in fruit) and oat bran (a component of oatmeal also available by itself)—have been reported to interact with lovastatin. The fiber from these two sources appears to bind the drug in the gastrointestinal tract and reduce absorption of the drug as a consequence. People taking this drug should avoid concentrated intake of soluble fiber, as taking lovastatin with a high soluble-fiber diet leads to reduced drug effectiveness.

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • none

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers' package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Side Effects

The most common adverse effects of dietary fiber are minor gastrointestinal symptoms. There have been several reports of allergic reactions to psyllium. In rare cases, obstruction of the large or small intestine has occurred in people consuming wheat bran or bran cereal.

Beans, a good source of soluble fiber, also contain special sugars that are often poorly digested, leading to gas. 

People with scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) should consult a doctor before taking fiber supplements or eating high-fiber diets. Although a gradual introduction of fiber in the diet may improve bowel symptoms in some cases, there have been several reports of people with scleroderma developing severe constipation and even bowel obstruction requiring hospitalization after fiber supplementation.4

References

1. Jacobs DR, Pereira MA, Meyer KA, Kushi LH. Fiber from whole grains, but not refined grains, is inversely associated with all-cause mortality in older women: the Iowa women's health study. J Am Coll Nutr 2000;19(3 Suppl):326S-30S.

2. Shah PJR. Unprocessed bran and its effect on urinary calcium excretion in idiopathic hypercalciuria. Br Med J 1980;281:426.

3. Ebisuno S, Morimoto S, Yoshida T, et al. Rice-bran treatment for calcium stone formers with idiopathic hypercalciuria. Brit J Urol 1986;58:592-5.

4. Gough A, Sheeran T, Bacon P, Emery P. Dietary advice in systemic sclerosis: the dangers of a high fibre diet. Ann Rheum Dis 1998;57:641-2.

 

PeaceHealth endeavors to provide comprehensive health care information, however some topics in this database describe services and procedures not offered by our providers or within our facilities.