Three Types of Plant Based Fiber
Did you know psyllium isn’t the only plant based supplemental fiber? That’s right! We’ve done some searching and found two other plant based fiber types. This includes inulin and acacia (Not to be confused with Acai). We are going to talk about how these three types of fiber are different and how they are similar. You can determine for yourself which plant based fiber is the best.
As always, we recommend speaking with your doctor to find the best supplemental fiber for you.
Types of Fiber: They All Do This
But let’s start with the basics. All of these fibers are prebiotic and soluble. Prebiotics feed and nourish the good bacteria in your stomach and stop the production of bad bacteria. This is important for your gut health.
Okay, now onto the rest.
[Read all about soluble and insoluble fiber in our Types of Fiber 101 post]
We’re beginning with our personal favorite [since we use this in our products], psyllium!
Plant Based Fiber Type #1: Psyllium
Psyllium-based fiber is more accessible than the others.
Psyllium husk fiber is derived from the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata found in India.
Psyllium absorbs water and creates a gel-like substance in your stomach. This fiber is commonly found and used in the market, unlike the other two types of fiber we’re discussing below. So, it’s more accessible. And with products like ours, you can enjoy plant-based fiber powders in over 80 delicious flavors!
Benefits of Psyllium
This source of fiber comes with loads of benefits like relieving constipation, appetite control, insulin control, maintaining blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol, and more. The benefits of psyllium plant-based fiber are endless.
Unlike acacia fiber, psyllium fiber has been shown to be more effective in lowering the levels of blood sugar and blood cholesterol. Something to keep in mind.
Speaking of acacia fiber, let’s discuss this one next!
Plant Based Fiber Type #2: Acacia
Acacia isn’t gritty and doesn’t thicken in water.
What is acacia fiber? Acacia fiber is derived from the sap of the Acacia Senegal tree found in Africa. As mentioned earlier, it’s not açaí. But an açaí bowl does sound super refreshing…
Unlike psyllium, acacia isn’t gritty and doesn’t thicken in water.
Benefits of Acacia
Just like psyllium, acacia is a prebiotic that suppresses your appetite, reduces gut inflammation, alleviates constipation, relieves diarrhea, and supports weight loss.
Unfortunately, since acacia isn’t as popular as psyllium, there have been far fewer studies on how acacia affects the body. However, researchers have found acacia fiber helps protect our livers from acetaminophen’s (Tylenol) “toxic effects.” Also, researchers found when treating constipation, acacia fiber didn’t work as well as psyllium fiber.
Acacia vs. Psyllium Fiber
Now that you’ve learned the first two, you may be wondering is acacia fiber better than psyllium fiber. Choosing between acacia and psyllium fiber depends on your dietary and health goals. Here are a few comparisons that we discussed above:
- Solubility Levels: Both are soluble but psyllium has a higher solubility than acacia. Psyllium thickens in liquids but acacia doesn’t;
- Prebiotic Amounts: Psyllium fiber contains some prebiotic properties, but acacia fiber has more pronounced prebiotic advantages;
- Gas and Bloating Effects: Because psyllium has high fermentability in the gut, certain people may experience discomfort in the form of gas or bloating. Acacia is considered gentler on the gut;
- Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Management: Psyllium can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Acacia hasn’t been studied as extensively.
Neither acacia nor psyllium is definitively better than the other but more dependent on how your body responds to each. Now, onto the last type of fiber to consider.
Plant Based Fiber Type #3: Inulin
Inulin is derived from chicory root when used as fiber supplements.
Inulin fiber is found in many fruits, vegetables, and grains, but it is derived from chicory roots when produced for fiber supplements.
Also, it doesn’t have a strong taste, so you can add inulin to foods without disturbing the flavor! This explains why it’s used to replace fat or sugar in foods like ice cream, dairy products, and baked goods–you can’t taste it!
Benefits of Inulin
Other than having an undetectable flavor, inulin has a reduced caloric value. And since it’s a prebiotic, it can treat and prevent eczema and even “traveler’s diarrhea.” Important to note for your next international trip.
Plant Based Fiber: Decided on a Winner?
We discussed three types of fiber that are plant based: psyllium, acacia, and inulin. Let’s summarize why you should include one of these in your diet: All three types are considered soluble fiber a prebiotic that alleviates constipation, relieves diarrhea, and reduces gut inflammation, making a happier stomach.
It’s important to check with your doctor to see which supplemental fiber is right for you!
By the way, did you know that natural fiber can negatively affect certain medications? You can read all about this in our post here.