Dietary fiber is one of those things that's necessary for optimal digestion, but inherently confusing. That's why I got in touch with Dr. Niket Sonpal, a New York-based internist and gastroenterologist, and a faculty member at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. The best fiber supplements for women (more specifically, cis women) will differ in their dosage ("Women need about 25 grams of fiber per day, while men need 38 grams," Dr. Sonpal tells Mic). But in order to choose the right one for you, there are a few key terms you'll first need to understand:
Solubility: In addition to potentially improving blood glucose control, solubility is also important for regulating bowel movements. "Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and as it does this, it creates a gel that might improve digestion in a multitude of ways," Dr. Sonpal writes.
Prebiotic and probiotic fibers: According to Dr. Sonpal, prebiotics are "the food source for millions of probiotic bacteria that help colonize the gut," while probiotics "help replenish good bacteria in a healthy intestine. Taking probiotics and prebiotics together has many positive effects."
Psyllium husk: Found in many best-selling fiber supplements, psyllium husk is a soluble plant-based powder that "soaks water into the gut and promotes regularity of bowel movements without increasing flatulence," Dr. Sonpal explains. "It is normally used to ease constipation and promote regularity of bowel movements and overall digestive health."
While keeping these terms in mind, check out three of Dr. Sonpal's direct fiber recommendations for women.
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1. The fan favorite
With more than 15,000 reviews and a 4.7-star rating overall on Amazon, Metamucil's psyllium husk fiber supplement is one of the most popular options on the site. It's also a direct recommendation from Dr. Sonpal, who calls it "a must-have because it lowers cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease. This product also has a pleasant orange flavor while restoring regularity." Its main ingredient is psyllium husk, which is a soluble fiber that promotes digestive health and keeps things moving. Simply mix a tablespoon into an 8-ounce glass of water to take it.
One reviewer wrote: "This is my favorite fiber supplement mix. It mixes smooth so its not grainy like some. It tastes good too. I've tried a few and I come back to the Metamucil."
2. The portable option
If portability is key, Dr. Sonpal recommends the Benefiber On the Go prebiotic fiber supplement. It contains both prebiotics to feed beneficial bacteria and plant-based wheat dextrin soluble fiber to promote digestive regularity. Most importantly, though, it comes in individual, single-serve packets, and it's unflavored, clear, and easy to dissolve in most drinks — so you can get your daily intake when you're traveling, at work, or on the road. In addition to being sugar free and gluten free, Dr. Sonpal also notes that "it also has no artificial flavors and provides constipation relief."
One reviewer wrote: "I absolutely love these! I use Benefiber on a daily basis because constipation is a side affect of a medication that I take. These are perfect for traveling because I don't have to worry about getting my fiber when I'm on the go."
3. The fiber gummies
As another option, there are these easy-to-take Vitafusion Fiber Well Fit gummies — "sugar-free gummies that provide a prebiotic effect in the gut and help maintain regular bowel movements," Dr. Sonpal writes. Along with the soluble polydextrose fiber, these also contain six types of B vitamins that "support cellular energy, which makes you feel better and think better," according to Dr. Sonpal.
Unlike other gummy supplements on the market, these skip the gluten, synthetic dyes, and high-fructose corn syrup. They also have a 4.6-star rating overall on Amazon after more than 6,000 reviews.
One reviewer wrote: "This thing does its job. I go to bathroom more often everyday which is great! Also, it tastes good and chewy which I love!"
Dr. Niket Sonpal, internist and gastroenterologist, professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine