The Three Rules of Taking a Fiber Supplement

Fiber supplements can offer benefits and risk according to surgeon Dr. Kevin Huguet at Minimally Invasive Institute of Surgery

Fiber supplementation is an excellent way to keep your bowel movements regular, eat less and feel full longer. In recent years, we’ve learned the critical role of gut health in our overall wellness, post-bariatric surgery patient or not. Of all the recommendations to improve your colon health, increase your fiber intake through what you eat or via supplementation. While fiber can now be taken in a multitude of easy and delicious ways, there are three rules to stick by to make sure you get the full benefit:

  • First, make sure you only take the recommended amount of fiber prescribed by your bariatric surgeon or colorectal surgeon. And start slow. If you take your full complement of fiber from day one, mainly if you have been accustomed to a relatively low fiber diet, you may start feeling bloated and gassy. This is very normal as the colon gets used to the increased fiber intake. These feelings will eventually go away, but it is best to start with a lower dose supplement to avoid it in the first place. As your body and gastrointestinal tract become accustomed to the fiber, you can begin increasing until you reach your total dose.
  • Second, it is essential to stay well-hydrated when supplementing with fiber. Without proper water intake, there is a distinct possibility of developing constipation, which can be uncomfortable, painful, and ultimately cause problematic G.I. issues. Make sure you drink at least 64 ounces of water each day – about eight glasses. If you are particularly active or if it is cold or hot outside, you should drink even more.
  • Third, stick to it. Getting enough fiber is not a weekly or monthly event. It is essential that you get your fiber day in and day out. Eventually, we would like to see you transition from fiber supplements to foods higher in fiber. Foods high in fiber are typically healthful and packed with other nutrients. Of course, high-fiber foods can also contain lots of sugar, saturated fats, and other diet busters, so be sure you look at the nutrition label.

Of note, if you are already suffering from certain colorectal conditions, you may be asked to reduce your fiber intake. Therefore, be sure to speak to your medical team before starting any new diet plan.

While fiber is a big part of colon health and post-bariatric-surgery life, many foods are high in fiber and sugar, fats, or other less than desirable ingredients. It’s important that you speak to your colorectal specialist to understand more about what you should be eating and what is best for your gut. Stay away from the bad stuff and enjoy your new fiber-rich diet, knowing that your colon and general health will thank you later.

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