Did you know the average American consumers half of the recommended fiber allowance of 20 to 35 grams per day? Yes. This creates a deficit that companies like Novartis Consumer Health have maximized and created supplements to address the issue. Benefiber, a prebiotic fiber, contains wheat dextrin fiber which offers numerous health benefits. However, does it aid in weight loss and lower blood glucose?
This review tries to uncover the truth on how it works, the benefits and side effects if any.
1. What is it: A Closer Look at Benefiber
Benefiber aids in weight loss and reduces cholesterol.
Benefiber is a dietary supplement formulated with wheat dextrin. The supplements are available in powder form and are organic, tasteless, clear, gluten-and sugar-free.
The fiber supplements have 15 calories per serving and are available in five sizes.
2. Where is it Manufactured
Benefiber is manufactured by Novartis Consumer Health Inc, a subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline.
GSK, the official distributor, is based in Warren, New Jersey
3. Types of Products
Benefiber is available in various products including a kids version.
Benefiber comes in different versions;
Kiwi strawberry stick packs
Healthy Shape designed to curb cravings
4. Ingredients Used
Benefiber contains Wheat dextrin as an active ingredient.
Benefiber contains gluten-free wheat dextrin. Wheat dextrin, a polysaccharide is produced through heating of starch under controlled moisture, acidity, and temperature. Plus, it contains glucose units not typically digested in the small intestines but are fermented in the colon .
Wheat dextrin, a solublefiber, can decrease clostridium perfringens (a bacterium found on raw poultry and meat and can cause illness) . But, the fiber has proven ineffective in increasing bifidobacterium and lactobacillus (good bacteria found in your colon).
Wheat dextrin helps to regulate the digestive system, stabilize blood glucose, increase micronutrient absorption, lowers serum lipid and may prevent gastrointestinal disorders as well as cardiovascular disease .
5. Allergy Concerns
All Benefiber products contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. FDA defines gluten-free as products with less than 20 ppm of gluten. However, people with gluten intolerance should avoid this and other products that contain any level of gluten.
6. How Does It Work?
Benefiber is a prebiotic fiber. To understand how or even why you may need the fiber supplements works, you need to know what are prebiotics and probiotics.
Prebiotics are the non-digestible part of carbohydrates (oligosaccharides). The fiber passes the upper GI tract undigested, and later fermented in the colon.
So, prebiotics is in layman’s terms, food for the bacteria (probiotics).
Probiotics are good bacteria (bacteria and yeast) that maintain the health of the gut. However, we have a combination of both good and bad bacteria in the body. An imbalance of the two can interfere with your immunity and cause illnesses.
So, why do you need prebiotic fiber like Benefiber?
Benefiber, rich in fiber, nourishes the good bacteria. Furthermore, it also suppresses the growth of bacteria .
7. Benefits and Results
Soluble fiber offers other benefits besides regularity.
Benefiber benefits are linked to fiber and prebiotics-probiotic connections. The benefits include:
Better gut health
Prebiotics stimulate the growth of probiotics that colonize the gut microflora. Research indicates that a higher intake of fiber can increase microorganisms like L.acidophilus, bifidobacteria, and L. casei. These probiotics can prevent diarrhea, Gastrointestinal Tract disorders, reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections and allergies (.
L.acidiophilus and Fiber, when fermented can produce short-chain fatty acids– butyric acid which improve the health of the intestinal lining. Additionally, they regulate electrolyte levels and relieve digestive issue .
Belly fat loss
Fat accumulation, especially around the abdominal part of the body, can increase type 2 diabetes and heart disease .
However, recent studies have shown that high fiber intake can reduce the risk of belly fat. Incidentally, reduced consumption of fiber is directly linked to overweight and obesity as well as weight gain .
Soluble fiber not only provide satiety but also suppresses appetite which will likely reduce calorie intake and further aid in weight loss .
Research shows that soluble fiber can reduce not only LDL cholesterol but also total body cholesterol .
Fiber lowers the body by reducing the amount of bile absorbed in the intestines. The liver makes bile (which is later stored in the gallbladder) using LDL cholesterol. So, when the bile levels fall below optimal levels, the liver will draw in more cholesterol to make bile salt. The lower the number of bile salts, the more LDL cholesterol will be pulled from the blood.
What about lowering blood glucose?
I have to mention the relationship between fiber and blood glucose. Although many studies have indicated high fiber can lower risk of diabetes, the type of fiber matters. Insoluble fiber is the most effective type of lowering blood glucose and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes .
So, it is possible for Benefiber not to affect your blood sugar, as it contains water-soluble dietary fiber.
8. Does it Work?
Yes, if it contains the required amount of fiber. Benefiber contains 3 grams of dietary fiber, and you need to consume 2 tbsp three times a day.
Note, the recommended dosage of fiber is 20 to 35 grams per day.
You might argue that Benefiber is low in fiber. But, remember they are supplements, and they are designed to complement your diet. So, ensure you consume a high-fiber diet to meet the required dosage. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are rich in fiber.
9. How to Take Benefiber
Benefiber is available in chewable and powder form. Since the supplements are taste-free, you can add it to smoothies, coffee, tea, juice, and soup.
You can also cook with the supplements as it completely dissolves without changing the consistency.
Who can take the supplements?
Benefiber can be consumed by both children from ages 6 and adults.
Adults can consume two tablespoons three times a day. Children, on the other hand, can take one tablespoon three times a day (applies to children between 6 and 11 years). You can also opt for Benefiber kids.
10. Will It Work With Your Diet?
Benefiber is effective if taken with a high-fiber diet. Also, limit your intake of processed sugar.
What about medications?
Benefiber and any other fiber supplement can affect the absorption of certain medications like metformin, antidepressants, and cholesterol-lowering supplements.
11. Side Effects
Usually, Benefiber does not cause side effects especially because the fiber content is optimal. However, if not taken properly, the supplements can cause constipation.
Benefiber is a soluble fiber, meaning it forms bulk in the colon. Without enough water in the digestive tract, you can experience constipation. Plus, it can cause dehydration.
So, ensure you take the fiber supplements with enough water.
12. Benefiber Alternatives
Metamucil is the primary competitor. These two fiber supplements work by absorbing water, form softer and bulkier stools. However, unlike Benefiber, Metamucil contains Psyllium husk which is known to suppress appetite, lower blood cholesterol, and improve blood sugar.
Metamucil is available in powder, water, and capsule forms.
In 2013, FDA recalled some of Benefiber supplements following many consumer complaints. Some of the supplements recalled include:
Benefiber Plus Heart health
Fiber Drink Mix
Kiwi Strawberry flavors
Fiber supplements with calcium
FDA cited that the supplement could cause temporary health consequences.
14. What Customers Are Saying
Not only is Benefiber on ‘Amazon’s Choice’ list, but it also has a 4.5 over 5 rating. It has 344 reviews; 315 positive and 29 negative ones. Some of the customers say;
“ Our family has a history of chronic constipation. After trying different solutions, I stumbled upon Benefiber, and it works. I take the fiber supplements three times a day; in the morning with coffee, mid-day, and at night.”
“I have a complicated digestive system, and I needed a product that can firm and normalize my bowel movement. This fiber supplements work. I mix one spoon with water, and I’m good. Sometimes I mix it with my food, and it doesn’t affect the taste.”
“ I normally use the supplements before my workout (mix it with my protein shake). It is tasteless and dissolves very quickly. Moreover, I get the value for my money– one container lasted me three months despite daily consumption.”
“ This fiber supplement does what its supposed to do. However, for some reason, my system slowed down, and I was forced to take something to help with my bowel movement. I consulted and was told that fiber could have a negative effect on some people (slowing down bowel movements).”
BBB rates Benefiber an F. This is mostly because of the numerous complaints witnessed before 2013 (which caused a recall of most of their products). However, their current products have received positive reviews from most users. Additionally, it contains a substantial amount of fiber. Due to that, I think Benefiber is a good fiber supplement to buy. Furthermore, it is sugar-free and contains few calories.
However, even with the supplements, you need to eat a healthy and balanced diet, plus enough water to prevent dehydration and constipation.
Although fiber can decrease weight gain, Benefiber does not affect weight loss directly. To lose weight effectively, consider creating a meal plan, eat healthily, and exercise regularly.
Keep in mind, Benefiber, like most of the supplements, will not work for everyone.