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Probiotics And Fiber: How It Helps You and Your Gut (and the truth about constipation)

Probiotics And Fiber – Can You Take Probiotics With Fiber?

We have all heard it before: “Eat more fiber.”

But not all fibers are created equal. Different types will have different effects on your health, and not everyone’s body reacts to fiber the same way.

Soluble vs. Insoluble

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble can dissolve in water, and insoluble can’t. While insoluble fiber passes through us undigested and acts as a stool bulking agent, soluble fiber can be digested by the friendly microbes that live in our gut, also known as probiotics. Insoluble fibers are known as prebiotics, since they are the foods that feed probiotics.

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How Does Solubility Affect Me?

Soluble fiber doesn’t only have beneficial effects for your friendly flora, it helps you too! Since soluble fiber can dissolve in water, it will make a viscous substance in your belly that makes you feel full faster and longer. The gel-like substance will digest more slowly and increase the time it takes to absorb nutrients. This results in increased satiety, which means you eat less. This is great knowledge for anyone looking to lose weight. Soluble fiber can also improve the body’s responsiveness to insulin and improve blood sugar control in people with mildly elevated blood glucose levels.

Different Fibers in Foods

Insoluble fiber is found in:

  • nuts
  • whole wheat
  • whole grains
  • bran
  • seeds
  • brown rice
  • skins of fruits and vegetables

Soluble fiber is in:

  • oats
  • beans
  • peas
  • barley
  • berries
  • soybeans
  • fruits and vegetables like beets, apples, pears, berries, oranges

Eating a variety of fibers will get you a variety of health benefits. You can combine fiber-rich foods to make a nutritious meal that will feed your friendly gut flora and keep you full for hours!

Can You Be Constipated And Still Poop?

If you’re not consuming any fiber, and you’re regularly constipated, you do need to increase your fiber. The Institute of Medicine recommends 38 grams of fiber daily for men and 25 grams for women, and an intake of 30 and 21 grams, respectively, for those older than 50.

Can You Have A Bowel Obstruction And Still Poop?

If you just drastically increased your intake and are having any type of gastrointestinal discomfort, try backing off and increasing your intake more slowly. Your body should get used to it and be fine after a few weeks.

However, if you regularly eat lots of fiber but suffer from chronic constipation, you may need to consider other factors. First of all, drink plenty of water (divide your body weight in half- have at least that many ounces each day). According to one systematic review, only soluble fiber helps with constipation. So if you are only eating insoluble fiber and no soluble fiber, you may actually make the problem worse. However, some people report that insoluble fiber does help them to move their bowels, so experiment and see what works for you.

Some supplements can help, but you need to be careful which you use. Cascara sagrada and senna are strong laxatives, but your bowel can get addicted to them. If you drink Smooth Move tea every day, you might not be able to go to the bathroom without it! Use stimulant laxatives only in an emergency. Regularly taking magnesium citrate is a gentler option.

Know your fibers and enjoy great health!


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