Most Americans fall far short of the recommended minimum 25 grams of fiber per day. Focusing your diet on fiber-containing foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the best way to increase your intake, but fiber supplements can help bridge the gap. Metamucil is famous for its psyllium fiber powder, but the company also makes a clear-mixing formula called Clear & Natural. Previously called Fibersure, this product is an alternative to traditional psyllium Metamucil, but it may not be right for everyone.
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Original Metamucil contains psyllium fiber, from the Plantago ovata seed, while the Clear & Natural formula contains inulin fiber, from chicory root. Psyllium fiber contains some insoluble fiber while inulin is all soluble fiber, so original Metamucil may be better if you tend toward constipation, and Clear & Natural may be better if you experience frequent diarrhea. The major advantage of psyllium fiber is that its effects extend beyond bowel health -- it may help lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and reduce your risk of heart disease. Inulin fiber does not confer these same benefits.
A serving of original Metamucil contains 20 calories and 5 grams of carbs; of the carbs, 3 grams are fiber, and 2 of those grams are soluble fiber. A serving of Clear & Natural contains 25 calories and 6 grams of carbs, 5 g of which are soluble fiber. Neither formula contains sugar, but the original formula contains a small amount of iron, sodium and potassium. The low-calorie content makes both formulas easy to incorporate into a healthy diet, so base your choice on the type of fiber rather than the nutritional profile.
Ease of Use
Both original Metamucil and Clear & Natural are powders you mix into a beverage by the teaspoonful, so dosing is simple. The difference is in the taste -- psyllium fiber may thicken liquids and taste gritty, while inulin fiber dissolves so completely you won't even notice its presence. Original Metamucil comes in several flavors that help mask the taste, and you can mix it with juice instead of water to make it even more palatable. But Clear & Natural is so tasteless and easy to dissolve the company claims that you can add it during cooking without changing the flavor of the food. This versatility may make it easier for people to increase their fiber consumption.
Possible Side Effects
Suddenly increasing your fiber intake can result in gas, bloating and abdominal pain, regardless of the source. Start slowly and increase your intake gradually to avoid this. Inulin fiber in particular is known to cause these side effects, even after long-term use. Because psyllium thickens in water, failing to drink enough water with your dose can cause throat restriction and choking. Consult your doctor before using either product if you have any medical condition, especially kidney disease. Fiber supplements of any type can interact with certain medications, such as lithium, digoxin, antidepressants and cholesterol and diabetes medications, so check with your doctor before beginning a fiber regimen.