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Fiber is the nondigestible part of plant foods. The recommended fiber intake for adults is 25 to 30 g per day, according to the University of Virginia Health System. Because many people do not eat enough fiber, supplements are available to help boost the intake. One option is Benefiber from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, a supplement which contains the natural water-soluble fiber wheat dextrin.
Benefiber is available in powder, chewable tablets and caplets. The original powder is sugar-free and tasteless, and it dissolves completely and does not thicken. These features make it suitable for adding to beverages, although it does not dissolve well in carbonated beverages, according to the Benefiber official website. You also can add Benefiber powder to soft foods. Benefiber stick packs for placing in water are available in flavors such as cherry pomegranate and kiwi strawberry.
Water-soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid. In the intestines, soluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps move it through the intestinal tract, explains the University of Virginia Health System. Natural fiber supplements, such as psyllium, methylcellulose and wheat dextrin, are mainly used for relieving occasional constipation, but may have other health benefits as well, such as relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Psyllium in particular is often promoted as a cholesterol-lowering agent.
Soluble fiber can interfere with absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream, explains the Mayo Clinic. You'll need 5 to 10 g or more a day including food and supplements to decrease your low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, the so-called bad cholesterol.
Although some websites promoting psyllium claim wheat dextrin is not beneficial for reducing cholesterol, research published in January 2009 indicates differently. Lead author J.L. Slavin and his colleagues completed a review of studies published by the "Journal of International Medical Research," noting that individuals who do not consume enough dietary fiber benefit from taking soluble fiber supplements, including wheat dextrin. These supplements help regulate the digestive system, may prevent several digestive disorders and may increase absorption of nutrients. They also stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce serum lipids, which include cholesterol and triglycerides.
Benefiber is considered gluten-free as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, notes the Benefiber official website. Because it does contain a minute amount of gluten, the manufacturer recommends that people intolerant to gluten not consume Benefiber products unless a doctor approves. In addition, fiber supplements interfere with the absorption of some medications, so take medicine at least two hours before or after consuming Benefiber.
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