Fibre Supplements

by on Sunday, June 14, 2009 6:50
This entry is filed under: Fiber

Fibre Supplements

I started to respond to Brevin’s question about fibre supplements, but the comment was getting too long, so I figured I’d make a new post about it. I just started using fibre supplements during my last hospital stay. I hadn’t needed them before but after the incident with the blockages, I was losing way too much fluid (I had to stay in the hospital on IV), so I had to take fibre supplehappy-pillments to slow things down.

On a bit of an educational note, if you’re looking at different brands and options, I think the key is that you need a “bulking agent”. The psyllium in Metamucil is a bulking agent, as are a few synthetic fibres (like inulin in Benefibre). In general, the synthetic fibres need smaller doses to achieve the same results. I also looked into more food-like options, such as cereals with psyllium fibre. The problem is, while the nutritional information tells you how much fibre the cereal provides, it doesn’t tell you how much psyllium fibre in particular you will get from a serving. My understanding is that this matters – not all fibres do the same thing. The bulking agents actually absorb water, but other fibres don’t. There is a useful comparison chart found at the University of Iowa Hospital website (, although I think it is likely more useful in the USA, since the brands and doses are not necessarily the same in Canada.

Below I outline my opinions on fibre supplements. Remember that these opinions have been formed in the last week or so, and therefore I don’t have the most extensive experience, although I have thought about fibre supplements a lot lately since they were linked to my hospital release and I plan to head back to work on Monday. Also, as a researcher, it bothers me that I changed more than one variable at a time (I started using Benefibre and changed the times I took the supplements almost at the same time – which factor is most important?). However, these are just my experiences and I believe there are lots of varied personal experiences (otherwise, the doctors wouldn’t have to try things out and wait and see what happens, there would be hard and fast rules about what works).

– Metamucil orange flavoured supplement (the only type of Metamucil the hospital carries) is totally disgusting. It gets very thick and you can’t disguise the taste. Also, for anyone who has had to take Pico-Salax before a surgery or colonoscopy, the taste gave me flashbacks.
– Metamucil “wafers” (read “cookies”) actually aren’t bad. However, if you have to take the dose I was recommended (the equivalent of 2 packs of liquid 3 times a day), you have to eat 9 cookies a day, which equals 9 cookies or 540 calories of cookies. That is a lot of calories to add to your diet if you need to be concerned about those things (the resident was concerned in the long-term, though I need to gain about 10lbs right now). Also, you get sick of the cookies quickly. They do fit into my purse nicely and serve as a snack, which is positive.
– Metamucil also comes in caplet form. There was some concern about their ability to dissolve quickly enough in my short intestinal tract, but there were no problems with the dissolution. However, I had a lot of pills to take (8 pills 3 times a day) which is daunting.
– The Metamucil caused a lot of discomfort and cramping, although it did achieve the desired effect of slowing down my digestive tract (enough to get released from the hospital).
– Benefibre is so, so, so much easier to take. I have only been taking it for a couple of days, but it seems to be working well (maybe not as well as the Metamucil, but it is also not causing the cramps that Metamucil did). I have only dissolved it in liquids so far (though I’m going to try baking it into muffins later!), and it definitely dissolves better in warm liquids (the results with hot tea were much better than with cold water). In the tea, you really can’t tell the difference. In the cold water, it didn’t all dissolve, but it was still infinitely better than the Metamucil liquid. I only have to take 2 teaspoons 3 times a day, which dissolves easily in a regular cup of tea.
– I have been playing with the dosage times over the past few days. In the hospital, they gave me the Metamucil with meals. I think the logic is that it needs to mix with food. However, that was resulting in me taking all the supplements between about 8am and 6pm and then none for 14 hours. This was causing unequal results (lots of liquid during the evening and almost none during the night and day). I have since started taking the supplements at breakfast, late afternoon and bedtime and it seems to be better.

These posts might also help out:

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15 Responses to “Fibre Supplements”

  1. avatar

    Joan Ekman says:

    June 15th, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I had an ileal-anal pullthrough with a complete colectomy (2 stage surgery) in 1989. I had U.C. for nearly 21 years. Dr. Eric Fonkalsrud the chief pediatric and reconstructive surgeon performed the surgery. I have been healthy ever since. He was one of the pioneers in perfecting this proceedure I was told. In any event, his instructions were to simply use Metamucil, but in a very concentrated doseage. I was instructed when needed for diareaha or to have more formed stools to take 1 full teaspoon mixed with very little water so that it’s just a little more liquid than paste and drink that. It has worked for me every time. Occasionally, I have to take 2 doses and occaisionally I want to assure I’m not going to have any loosy-goosey stools or accidents, so I take it as a precautionary measure, but I have control 99.9% of the time and for that, I am forever grateful. Having Ulcerative Colitis from age 16 to age 36 made my life all about bathrooms and pooping and accidents. you all know. Now I can actually sit in the middle of a row of seats at the movies. That took a couple years not to feel anxiety over not being at the end of the row for easy bathroom exits. So, it’s Metamucil for me and it even comes sugar free as the need may be.


  2. avatar

    Elise says:

    June 15th, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I am not at this stage of the game yet, 1st surgery next Tuesday, but I found both of your posts so so informative, thank you so much!



  3. avatar

    Brevin says:

    June 15th, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    The docs definitely stressed that I have to use half the amount of fluid recommended by the brand of fiber. I’m not the biggest fan of of drinking something that thickens the longer you wait (that’s just not cool), so I prefer the non-thickening fibers, like BeneFiber. I found these fiber cookies that are pretty delicious (they are like straw/tube shaped cookies filled with strawberry flavor), but I forgot the brand name. Metamucil makes cookies too, but they are very dry and stick in your teeth.
    Oh, and 8 caplets 3 times a day? No thanks. I’m mentally scarred from taking 12 asacol tablets a day, so I don’t want to take MORE pills : )
    This fiber post is very educational, thanks!



    Brevin Reply:

    *munch munch*
    Strawberry All-Bran Rolled Fiber Wafers!
    *munch munch*



    Elise Reply:

    Brevin, if only they made KFC flavored fiber cookies :) LOL


  4. avatar

    Jenelle says:

    June 20th, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Update: I tried baking the Benefibre into muffins and it worked really well (as promised, you can’t taste it at all).



    Brevin Reply:

    Wow, that’s a really good idea. I have a bread machine, so I’ll casually spike the flour with some BeneFiber too. Thanks for the hot tip!


  5. avatar

    Nitric Oxide says:

    December 13th, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Hi, interesting article. We love to use NO supplements, including Jack3d and SuperPump 250, but it’s all about eating right. I’ve generally been a follower of the Primal Blueprint. It is much more natural and how we evolved to eat. Check it out when you have a chance and email me your opinions. Anyway, cool site – I’m subscribed to your RSS feed now so I’ll check in more often!


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