It’s no secret that one of the most important parts of a healthy diet is fiber — but when it comes to finding the best fiber supplements for women over 50, what should you look for? With other supplements, like multivitamins and probiotics, most women have a general idea of what they need, but fiber can get a little bit tricky. Let’s break it down.
What is fiber?
Fiber, also known as dietary fiber or “roughage,” is a type of carbohydrate found in plant foods. What separates dietary fiber from other carbs, like starches, is that fiber can’t be properly digested. Instead of being broken down and absorbed by the body, fiber passes through your digestive system, helping what's inside move along the way. But the digestive system isn't the only place where fiber works its magic. Aside from digestion, fiber has been shown to assist in skincare and weight loss efforts, as well as in the treatment of various diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. So, what does fiber do to help all of those conditions? According to the FDA, alongside promoting regular digestion, fiber detoxifies your body while also slowing the rate that dietary fat, cholesterol, and sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream, supporting overall health.
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
Fiber can be broken down into two types, soluble and insoluble, each with their own specific health benefits. While both are undigested, only soluble fiber can be dissolved in water. Once dissolved, it transforms into a gel-like substance that slows down overactive digestive systems while lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber is most commonly found in oats, nuts, citrus fruits, and beans. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, doesn't dissolve and passes through the digestive system relatively intact. Bulkier in composition, it helps promote regular movements, offsetting constipation. Insoluble fiber is most commonly found in dark leafy greens, whole grains, and wheat bran.
Do I need a fiber supplement?
In general, the daily recommendation of fiber for women over 50 is 21 grams. While many women can achieve this through their diet, if you’re reading this article, chances are that you feel like you need extra fiber. If you’re dealing with a digestion issue or simply find it hard to get enough fiber solely through food, this is where fiber supplements can help. While fiber supplements are not meant to be your primary source of fiber (supplements are intended to be taken alongside a balanced diet), when factors like age, improper absorption of nutrients, or disorders like ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome are taken into account, you may find fiber supplements are your saving grace.
As with any new dietary change, be sure you consult your doctor before adding a fiber supplement to your daily routine. But if you’re interested in more information on what’s out there, keep going. Scroll down for the best fiber supplements for women over 50.