Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. It helps keep your digestive system running smoothly and aids in digestion. Fiber also helps lower cholesterol levels and keeps blood sugar levels steady.
Constipation is fairly common during pregnancy, and it can be very uncomfortable. If constipation becomes severe or lasts longer than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor about treatment options. It’s no wonder, then, that some pregnant women turn to fiber supplements to try and get more in their diet.
However, there are certain types of fiber that should be avoided during pregnancy. Here, we’re covering three popular ones: Chicory root, Psyllium husk, and acacia.
Covered in this Article:
Is Chicory Root Fiber Safe During Pregnancy?
The chicory plant has been used for centuries to treat stomach ailments such as indigestion and heartburn. The roots contain high amounts of inulin. Inulin can help reduce bloating and gas by binding with water molecules in the intestines.
However, chicory root should probably not be eaten during pregnancy. It does have a mild laxative effect, which some people use to combat constipation. It has been used for years in alternative medicine therapies, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s safe.
Some research shows that consuming large amounts of chicory could induce menstruation or miscarriage. Limited research is available in this area, but avoiding chicory is likely a safe option (Source: Science Direct).
Inulin is derived from chicory and is found in some bars and processed foods. Therefore you should check labels not just for “chicory” but also “inulin” as a listed ingredient.
WebMD also classes chicory as “possibly unsafe” during pregnancy. They say: “Chicory might start menstruation and cause a miscarriage” and to only eat it in food amounts. (Source: teens.webmd.com).
It’s worth noting here that supplements are far higher amounts than ‘food amounts’, so should be avoided.
The amount of chicory or inulin that would need to be consumed has not really been specified, so the best idea would be to avoid foods containing chicory or inulin during pregnancy, and this includes any chicory fiber products.
Is Acacia Fiber Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
Acacia fiber (or gum arabic) is a soluble fiber sourced from the gum of an acacia tree. It can help to relieve constipation, as well as act as a prebiotic (which helps to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut). It can be mixed into foods or smoothies, and doesn’t have an unpleasant, gritty taste.
During pregnancy, acacia fiber may need to be avoided, as it could interfere with iron absorption, leading to an increased risk for anemia. Since many women struggle to get enough iron while they’re pregnant, it’s important to make sure you don’t add anything else to your diet that will affect how much iron gets absorbed.
There is also some research that shows that regular consumption of acacia fiber during pregnancy may delay weight gain and development of babies after birth; more research is likely needed, as most of this research is still animal-centric (Science Direct).
However, it would always be good to check with a medical professional before incorporating acacia fiber into your pregnancy diet.
Is Psyllium Husk Fiber Safe to Eat When Pregnant?
Psyllium is a form of soluble fiber that comes from an herb commonly grown in India (IJSR). It has the ability to gel, bind, and bulk, and can help to relieve constipation. It is recognized as safe for use during pregnancy by the American Pregnancy Association (Live Strong).
It is more effective in relieving constipation than wheat bran, and is generally one of the most effective constipation relief aids on the market. Out of the three fibers on this list, psyllium husks are probably safest when used during pregnancy.
However, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor first if you want to incorporate a new supplement into your diet.
Psyllium can be consumed as a powder, in a capsule, or even as a chewable supplement. There is no recommended dose, as it is not controlled by the FDA, but a quick check with your medical professional would likely point you in the right direction of an appropriate daily dose.
In summary, I’d say that if you are looking for a fiber supplement to ease your constipation while pregnant, then psyllium might be worth trying out.
Other Options – Getting More Fiber Naturally Through Diet During Pregnancy
Supplements aren’t the only way to go if you are suffering from pregnancy-related constipation, which is common in the first trimester.
You can get plenty of dietary fiber through whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, etc., all of which will provide you with enough fiber to keep things moving along nicely!
For more on this, you might be interested in our guide to the best high-fiber foods you can eat during pregnancy.
I hope this article helps answer any questions about what types of fiber supplements are safe to take during pregnancy – including the risks of some of the most common types.
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