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It’s hard to have a conversation about healthy eating and not talk about fiber — and, by extension, fiber supplements 111. The mighty carbohydrate that is fiber promotes satiety, helping you feel full and stay full for longer, and it aids in proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Fiber supplements are widely available over the counter at nearly any grocery store or pharmacy, but is there ever too much of a good thing? Consider Metamucil, a brand-name product made from 100 percent psyllium husk 4.

Metamucil is touted as a great way of keeping your digestive system functioning and even aiding in weight loss 4. Could Metamucil have side effects if you use it long-term, or is it safe to include in your daily routine 4? Here’s the skinny on psyllium and how supplements made from it can affect your body.

Tips

Yes, you can safely take Metamucil every day, but it is better for your overall health to reach your recommended daily intake of fiber from food sources.

Read more: 19 High-Fiber Foods — Some May Surprise You!

The Importance of Fiber

Your fiber needs vary based on age and gender. Here’s how much you should be getting in your daily diet, according to the Mayo Clinic 169:

  • Men 50 and younger: 38 grams
  • Men older than 50: 30 grams
  • Women 50 and younger: 25 grams
  • Women older than 50: 21 grams

There are two types of fiber, and each serves an important function. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a sort of gel, whereas insoluble fiber moves through your digestive system unchanged and increases stool bulk.

Because fiber helps keep you feel full faster and for longer, it is great for helping control weight 2. A study published in the February 2015 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine tracked 240 adults with metabolic syndrome over the course of a year while half of them followed dietary guidelines put forth by the American Heart Association and half of them focused on simply increasing their fiber intake 3.

Both groups in the study lost weight, and although the American Heart Association group lost more pounds overall, the study concluded that simply increasing fiber is a reasonable alternative for people who have trouble following strict diet plans.

Metamucil Benefits You Should Know

Fiber can be found in many plant foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, but fiber supplements are available for people who need to increase their intake.

Fiber supplements come in several forms, including fiber powers (which can be stirred into drinks or added to recipes) and fiber pills (which can be swallowed orally). The milled psyllium husk that serves as the active ingredient in Metamucil provides 2 to 4 grams of soluble fiber per serving 4.

Metamucil’s directions encourage use for two weeks because although some users might notice benefits immediately, it can take those two weeks, per the product’s claims, to feel them in their entirety 45.

Taking Metamucil Every Day

If fiber helps you feel full and manage your weight, then you might be ready to include a dose of Metamucil in your regular routine 4. Before you go adopting that habit, consider this: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises that some of the benefits of fiber supplements, like the feeling of satiety, might not be the same in fiber supplements or enriched foods compared to whole food sources 611.

What’s more, people who aren’t getting enough fiber from what they’re eating are probably missing out on other vital nutrients in their diet too.

Using Metamucil or laxatives to treat chronic constipation could be covering up symptoms of a bigger problem, thus preventing you and your doctor from knowing about it and beginning treatment as soon as possible 47. However, the Mayo Clinic reports that there’s no harm in taking Metamucil every day and that using it can even help you reach your recommended daily intake of fiber 146.

It’s difficult to say how effective fiber supplements are in helping dieters achieve their weight-loss goals. An article featured in the June 2012 issue of Current Obesity Reports noted that fiber supplements can enhance high-fiber eating strategies and further promote satiety and reduce cardiometabolic risk factors, but more clinical trials are needed to determine the potential of fiber supplements in managing obesity in the long term.

Are There Side Effects?

Metamucil is safe, but it isn’t without side effects 4. Fiber supplements can cause bloating and gas, especially in the beginning 1. The best way to avoid this is to start out slowly and increase the dosage until you get the results you want 7.

Drinking plenty of water will ensure the fiber has plenty of fluid to dissolve into. Fiber supplements can also interfere with certain medications by interfering with absorption. This includes even common medications like aspirin, ibuprofen and penicillin 9. By taking medication one hour before or two hours after eating a high-fiber meal, you can minimize the interaction.

Other Ways to Increase Fiber

If you’re looking to increase the fiber in your diet, you don’t necessarily have to use supplements. Many nutritious foods provide all the fiber you need and can easily be worked into your diet 6. Look for whole foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and whole grains. Here are a few ideas for ways to get more fiber in your diet 610.

Include the skin or peel of fruits and vegetables for a hit of fiber 6. An apple with its peel contains 4.4 grams of fiber, while a half-cup of applesauce contains only 1.4 grams.

Look for whole-grain products instead of low-fiber white ones. Steel cut oats for breakfast instead of refined cereal, or even brown rice with dinner instead of white, will help you meet your fiber goals. Opt for 100 percent whole-wheat bread.

Popcorn, nuts and dried fruit make great snacks for you to carry with you when you are out and about 10.

Include a serving of fruit, vegetables or both with every meal you eat. Think of a serving as one piece of fruit, a half-cup of raw vegetables or a cup of leafy greens. This will help you meet your five servings a day (three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit) recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Beans are a great source of fiber 11. Add navy, pinto, kidney, black, Lima, white or garbanzo beans to any salad you’re preparing to up the fiber (and the protein).

Read more: 7-Day Restart Guide: How to Get Your Diet Back on Track in One Week

Mix a quarter-cup serving of wheat bran into foods like cooked cereal, applesauce or even meatloaf. If a food comes in a package, check the nutrition label for the amount of dietary fiber and aim for 5 grams per serving.

The Wrap Up

It’s hard to have a conversation about healthy eating and not talk about fiber — and, by extension, fiber supplements11. Metamucil is touted as a great way of keeping your digestive system functioning and even aiding in weight loss. Here’s the skinny on psyllium and how supplements made from it can affect your body. ** Your fiber needs vary based on age and gender. Because fiber helps keep you feel full faster and for longer, it is great for helping control weight. If fiber helps you feel full and manage your weight, then you might be ready to include a dose of Metamucil in your regular routine. Before you go adopting that habit, consider this: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises that some of the benefits of fiber supplements, like the feeling of satiety, might not be the same in fiber supplements or enriched foods compared to whole food sources11. An article featured in the June 2012 issue of Current Obesity Reports noted that fiber supplements can enhance high-fiber eating strategies and further promote satiety and reduce cardiometabolic risk factors, but more clinical trials are needed to determine the potential of fiber supplements in managing obesity in the long term. Fiber supplements can cause bloating and gas, especially in the beginning. Look for whole-grain products instead of low-fiber white ones.

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