Acacia fiber is derived from acacia gum, or gum Arabic, a sticky sap produced by the Acacia senegal or Acacia seyal tree. Acacia fiber powder is created by harvesting, drying and grinding this gum into a fine powder. Acacia gum is very high in soluble fiber and, as such, is often used either as an additive or dietary supplement to increase fiber intake.
Acacia fiber powder readily dissolves in water and is both Celiac- and diabetes-friendly. According to Hannu Salovaara and colleagues, acacia fiber is particularly effective at helping to regulate glycemic response, or the rate at which carbohydrates are digested and released into the bloodstream. This nonfat fiber forms a gel in the digestive tract, resulting in more gradual digestion of fats and carbohydrates. This helps to add bulk and softness to stool, promoting regular, healthy bowel functions while helping you to feel full for longer periods of time.
Effect on Cholesterol Levels
Like other forms of fiber, acacia fiber powder helps to regulate cholesterol levels. Effective at lowering both total cholesterol levels and LDL, or "bad" cholesterol levels, acacia fiber helps to promote cardiovascular health. Hanu Salovaara and colleagues also note that, by slowing the breakdown and absorption of carbohydrates into the blood stream, acacia fiber helps to regulate and prevent potentially harmful fluctuations in blood pressure.
Aside from contributing to feelings of fullness and helping to improve regularity, acacia powder can help to reduce weight. In a 2008 study at the University of Bologna, Italy, Mauro Bortolotti and colleagues tested this idea by adding a variety of types of fiber to the diets of people attempting to lose weight. These researchers found that acacia fiber, as opposed to other types of fiber, helped to consistently and significantly reduce body mass index without causing intestinal discomfort. In addition, these researchers found acacia to be more palatable than other types of fiber, suggesting that it may be an ideal long-term dietary supplement.
Effects on Bowel Health
As noted by Hannu Salovaara and colleagues, acacia fiber is effective at reducing both constipation and diarrhea and may be used to alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The fermentation of acacia fiber in the intestines results in the production of bacteria that are beneficial to intestinal health and may help to reduce your risk of colon cancer. As noted by Mauro Bortolotti and colleagues, this fermentation does not result in the production of uncomfortable intestinal gasses, a condition known as "meteorism" that is commonly associated with other forms of soluble fiber.
There are some risks associated with supplementing your diet with acacia powder. Though generally safe, a small percentage of people may experience an allergic reaction to acacia fiber. The bulking property of acacia fiber may result in significant blockages in the esophagus, stomach or intestines if consumed excessively or without sufficient water. In addition, acacia fiber may react negatively with certain types of medications. As such, the addition of acacia fiber to your diet should be approached gradually and with caution. As with any form of supplementation, you should consult your doctor before adding acacia fiber to your diet.