If you feel like you don’t eat nearly enough salad and oatmeal to fulfill your daily fiber quota, you’re not alone! While nutrition is best consumed through healthy foods, sometimes it’s also helpful to boost your intake with a supplement. To up your fiber ante, you might want to consider acacia fiber. This phenomenal plant food, also known as gum arabic or acacia gum, can do wonders for your digestive health.
Acacia fiber comes from the sap of the acacia tree, which grows mainly in Africa and India. Many of the health benefits of acacia fiber come from its status as a prebiotic, a type of fiber that’s especially good for your gut.
What Exactly Are Dietary Fiber and Prebiotics?
Dietary fiber is carbohydrates from plant foods that you can’t completely digest. You’ve probably heard you need more fiber in your diet—this is because fiber plays an important role in your digestion and gut health. Fiber increases the bulk of your stool and softens it, making it easier to pass through your small intestines and colon. Eating a diet high in fiber can prevent constipation, help with weight loss, enhance your immune system, and reduce your risk for serious diseases.
Some types of dietary fiber are considered prebiotics—non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the production of helpful bacteria.
But why are prebiotics particularly good for your gut?
Within your body, trillions of microorganisms have their own microscopic ecosystem. About three pounds of these microorganisms live in your gut, making up your gut microbiota. These good bacteria and the food they live on are incredibly beneficial, having been linked to not only digestive health but to practically all other facets of the human body, including boosting immune system and even mental health. Needless to say, a balanced and diverse gut microbiota is vital for good health.
Prebiotics help your gut microbiota thrive — think of the former as “food” for the latter. Laboratory tests have shown that acacia fiber is a prebiotic. That means acacia fiber, acting as “fuel” for friendly bacteria, significantly increases the number of beneficial bacteria present in the gut microbiota.
How Much Fiber Do You Need?
The amount of fiber you need depends on your age and gender. The Institute of Medicine recommends 25 grams of fiber daily for women who are 50 years of age and younger, and 21 grams for women ages 51 and over. For men ages 50 and younger, 38 grams daily are recommended, while men ages 51 and over need 31 grams. A staggering 90% of Americans don’t meet these fiber recommendations. So if you fall into this majority, start upping your daily fiber intake and make sure some of those fibers include prebiotics like acacia fiber!
Acacia Fiber Is Easy to Stomach
Some fiber sources have been found to cause gas and bloating. One of the amazing things about acacia fiber is how easy it is to tolerate. A 2003 study published in Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease demonstrated the effects of acacia fiber on digestive tolerance. The study found that test subjects did not often suffer from diarrhea, flatulence, or bloating, even in higher doses. Researchers attribute acacia fiber’s high tolerance to its slow fermentation rate in the gut.
Acacia Fiber Helps with IBS
An estimated 10-15% of the world’s population suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This uncomfortable condition can cause gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea, and constipation. A 2012 study from South Korea demonstrated that a combination of acacia fiber and yogurt helped ease the symptoms of IBS. Twice a day for an eight-week period, study participants ate yogurt mixed with acacia fiber and the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis. Those who ate the yogurt described less incidence of constipation, diarrhea, and other IBS symptoms.
Acacia Fiber Relieves Constipation
Constipation is a common problem for children. This is often because children become afraid of having painful bowel movements and try to withhold their feces. The condition can become chronic if it continues over time. Acacia fiber, combined with psyllium fiber and fructose, has been shown to effectively treat chronic constipation in children. A 2012 Italian study compared treatments of acacia fiber, psyllium fiber, and fructose, with polyethylene glycol 3350 combined with electrolytes (PEG-electrolyte solution). PEG-electrolyte solution is a powerful laxative used in hospital settings. Researchers found that the acacia fiber mixture and the PEG-electrolyte solution were both equally effective at helping with chronic constipation.
Acacia Fiber Can Reduce BMI
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight. A study from the Department of Physiology at Khartoum University found that taking acacia fiber reduced BMI in healthy women. Half of the 120 study participants took 30 grams of acacia fiber per day, while the other half took a placebo. After six weeks, the women who took the acacia fiber had significantly lower BMIs. Researchers think acacia fiber could be used to treat obesity.
How to Take Acacia Fiber
As a dietary supplement, acacia fiber is usually sold as a powder, but is also available as a capsule or tablet. As with any fiber supplement, start out slowly, taking small amounts to give your body time to adjust, and then increase accordingly. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you have a history of intestinal problems or other health issues, consult your doctor before taking acacia fiber.
Most people don’t get enough fiber in their diets, which can cause a host of health problems. Acacia fiber is one of the best fibers to take not only because it’s easy to tolerate but also because it’s a prebiotic!
For more tips on eating healthy for a happy gut, continue reading here:
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