I decided to do a one year update and repost on this subject to include a second fiber product that’s equally good and somewhat more affordable. I include a review of the products along with a guide on how to take them when you have serious digestive issues caused by IBS, gastroparesis, SIBO or another GI disorder. Please note I may receive a small commission on any purchases made directly through the links in this or any of my blog posts. Thank you.
If you have the digestion and absorption issues that are common with IBS, Gastroparesis, SIBO, you probably find it impossible to incorporate enough fiber into your diet. The simple solution is to add a fiber supplement, but most fiber supplements are plant based and contain high carbohydrate content. They can easily upset the systems of people with these conditions. If you’re on the FODMAPs diet, the fiber supplement you’re currently taking that is supposed to be doing you good could actually be having the opposite effect, so it’s very important that you investigate what’s in your fiber supplement and whether or not you need to take a different kind.
If you aren’t currently taking one, you might be amazed by the changes you see in a matter of just a few weeks, cutting down on cramping, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and other disccomforts.
Though I didn’t take a fiber supplement in a long time because everything I tried caused me more trouble than it helped, I decided to search one out, because despite enjoying better bowel health than I have in a long time, I couldn’t really achieve any consistency in my bathroom habits. MY Urogynecologist also thought it might help and encouraged me to give it a try despite my wariness. After doing some research, I found that the best digestive fiber for IBS, SIBO and Gastroparesis is hydrolyzed guar gum powder. That’s because guar gum provides plenty of fiber, but isn’t a high FODMAP carbohydrate. Nestle is actually marketing their guar gum based ProNourish Digestive Balance Fiber specifically for it’s Low FODMAP compatibility, and this is the one I began with and took for about 6 months before I began exploring whether there might be other brands, especially since supply of Pronourish is iffy at best.
It turns out there are, and when I switched to Healthy Origins’ Healthy Fiber, also made from partially hydrolyzed guar gum they like to call “Sunfiber,” I was equally satisfied with the results and even happier with the price tag, given that theirs is usually ~ $3 cheaper per can. I’m not surprised. I’ve never had a bad experience with this brand despite their usual affordability. The only difference in these two brands is cost and recommended dosage.
According to the packaging, both products are gluten-free, lactose free, and vegan, as well as low FODMAP and only contain guar gum. I’ve been taking either the ProNourish or Healthy Origins for about a year now.
Pros and Cons
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Hydrolyzed guar gum is truly tasteless and undetectable in water, so you don’t have to worry about it being one more of those nose-holding powders to choke down. Once dissolved, you really can’t tell it’s there at all as there is no change to color, texture or taste. You can also sprinkle it over your food if you prefer. I add it with my ORS and other powders to a glass of water.
It’s important to start out on a very small dose if you have digestive issues and give your system time to adjust, but once I did that, I found that taking these supplements has really changed things for the better for me. While the dietary changes I made helped a lot, these fiber supplements put a stop to fluctuating between diarrhea and constipation all the time and gave my bowel movements bulk, making them much more comfortable. Because of this, I have a great deal less pain from my diverticulum.
How to Take It – Spoonie Style
While the ultimate goal is to take around 2 tablespoons a day, it’s important to work your way up in dose slowly. It isn’t supposed to cause diarrhea, but if you take too much to begin with, it certainly can; or at least that’s how it’s worked on me. It says it’s safe to begin at a 1 tablespoon dose per day, however I had to break that in half to avoid getting diarrhea, which was pretty much an immediate reaction (within 1 hour of taking it). Given this personal experience, I would recommend that you start with no more than a ½ tablespoon per day and work your way up, adding a little more every few days.
To help avoid stomach upset, take it with food rather than on an empty stomach. It doesn’t matter if you add it to your water or your food, just make sure it goes in your tummy at roughly the same time. This doesn’t mitigate the need to work your way up in dose size.
Work your way up to an adequate does and give it a chance to really work. It helped me some right away, but it wasn’t until I got to almost 1 tablespoon twice a day before it really started to turn things around for me, bulking up my stool, making things more regular and eliminating some of the general acheyness and flux I was still experiencing.
Once you’ve begun to easily tolerate 1 tablespoon twice a day, you shouldn’t have any problem taking the full amount every morning, all at once, making it more convenient to take.
Now, my husband and I both take the powder and have found it to be very useful in regulating our bathroom habits, making things much more comfortable and regular. You can order the Nestle Pronourish here, or the Healthy Orgins’ Healthy Fiber here.
Looking for more supplements and nutrition information to improve your spoonie life? Check out our list of Medications and Supplements!
After my trial of AloeVeritas’ Aloe Drink Gel went so well and relieved so many of my nagging gastroparesis and IBS symptoms, I decided I wanted to keep exploring aloe drinks to see what else was out there. Turns out there are a lot of fake products out there, but there was one juice that stood out nicely above all the rest while still being quite affordable.
Testing Aloe Juices
I grew fascinated by the aloe industry when I began doing research for my AV Drink Gel article. The process of extracting inner aloe gel for drinking may be a simple one, but it’s very important to avoid the contamination of inner leaf gel with the outer leaf gel, which contains aloin, a bright yellow liquid aloe leaf latex which can be fatal to humans if enough is ingested. This is why it’s so very important to get a good quality aloe juice. Unfortunately, what I discovered during my investigation of aloe drinks, is that there are a lot of companies out there who claim to offer a safe and effective aloe drink, but are coming up way short on delivery.
When I began testing a second aloe juice, I did so before doing my write up on the Aloe Drink Gel. I hadn’t yet realized there are a lot of Aloe Vera fakes out there, some of which can be dangerous because they use Aloin in their products, the dark yellow outer leaf gel that contains latex. Aloe latex can deplete the body of our precious potassium, so essential to heart health and maintaining heart rate and blood pressure (2).
When I realized this, I checked research on the aloe juice I bought after I was out of the Aloe Drink Gel. The results weren’t good. Not only did it contain very little actual aloe, it tested positive for aloin. Aloin is in outer leaf gel. It contains latex and when consumed causes dehydration, diarrhea and depletion of potassium, which can lead to a heart attack. If you’re taking aloe and it’s causing you diarrhea, it probably contains aloin. Pure inner leaf gel shouldn’t do that, taken in the right amount. Unfortunately, the cheapest, most popular brands tested very poorly and either contained aloin, way too low an amount of aloe to contain anywhere close to what they say they do. While I hate to badmouth products on my site, to protect the health of my readers, I want to state clearly that this includes George’s, Fruit of the Earth and Real Aloe and Whole Foods brands. I’d also be highly suspicious of any drug store or grocery store brand (1, 4).
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com
Luckily, when I finally got off my post-vacation flared-up duff and reviewed my notes to begin writing my review of Aloe Veritas’ Drink Gel, I realized I wasn’t seeing nearly as many of the benefits with the cheaper aloe juice I bought afterward that I’d been seeing with Aloe Veritas’ Drink Gel. As is my usual way, I got to work on the research. That quickly convinced me I wanted nothing to do with the cheap aloe.
While the healing effects of the AV Drink Gel hung in there with me for a few days after I finished it off, I could tell the effects were dwindling after a week or so. I was having more problems with diarrhea, nausea, heart burn, and even occasional shut downs of my system that would cause severe nausea and terrible, painful gas if I tried to relax my diet in the least.
This made me wonder what I was really drinking in this new, cheaper aloe and when I started researching it, I was not happy with the results. One company tested it back in 2012 and claimed it had absolutely no aloe at all in it, while just this last year, another company tested it and it was found to have significantly less aloe content than it should if it were actually “pure aloe vera juice” as the label claimed. Could they be using cheap aloin to get the positive aloe vera results? It was certainly possible and according to what I’d read, other companies had been caught doing just that.
I went off of the aloe products entirely because I was so afraid of everything the research revealed. After only 3 days, the full force of my stomach issues resurfaced. My meals had to be cut in half and I was still suffering nausea. I had little to no appetite and mealtime became an if/when proposition for me again because the food was sitting in my stomach for hours and hours, no matter how tiny the portions. I also had overall gastric pain that woke me up every time I moved in my sleep.
This experience convinced me the test results I read were probably valid. While taking the AV Aloe Drink Gel, I felt like my stomach was 10 years younger, like real change was possible, while on the other drink, it was only somewhat pacified and even upset some of the time, while my POTS symptoms were getting worse. On the AV Drink Gel, my POTS symptoms seemed better, probably because it has added potassium and enough aloe vera content to increase absorption by 300%, as all pure aloe drinks should.
So I went on a mission to see if I could find any products that were at least a little more affordable that had good results in testing and I came up with Lakewood Organic Pure Aloe Inner Leaf Juice with Lemon. Like AV’s Drink Gel, this product isn’t 100% aloe, but it only contains a minute amount of natural organic preservatives and lemon juice for flavor enhancement. The taste is quite similar, as is the color and consistency.
So are the results. I’ve been drinking Lakewood for about a month now and I have a very happy tummy. I can get a 32 ounce jar at Kroger for $7.49 with my groceries, so it’s really convenient and affordable. Of course I’ve since figured out I can get it from Amazon for a lot cheaper. Since I only drink 4 ounces every night before I go to bed (or first thing in the morning if I forget), a bottle lasts me 8 days.
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The Benefits of Aloe for Spoonies
When starting on Lakewood, my system started to calm down almost immediately. By the end of the week, I was back to enjoying pain free digestion, much like what I got a glimpse of on the AV Gel. I haven’t been able to cut out any medications or anything, but what medication I am on is actually working, without breakthrough heartburn. Oddly enough, I can’t even remember the last time I had diarrhea or constipation. That may sound weird to the average person, but to someone like me who used to rotate constantly between the two, it’s a flat out miracle.
I’m also dropping weight at a somewhat higher rate. Over the last two months, I have averaged 2.3 pounds lost per month, compared with my usual average of 1.1 pounds. Given that it’s taken me 4 years to lose 55 pounds on a 1300 calorie diet, I can’t help but be impressed that it’s doubled my weight loss rate in such a short time and I suspect that once I am able to return to my regular cardio routine once the cardiologist clears me, that weight will come off a whole lot faster.
Of course the most important thing to me is that it help with my symptoms. When taking either Lakewood or Aloe Veritas drinks, my stomach seems to digest at a normal rate and I am able to eat a normal amount, all without any of the usual repercussions of heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pseudo-blockage, bloating and painful gas. Of course this is only true if I stick to my required diets, the low histamine for MCAS and low FODMAP diet for gastroparesis/IBS.
It’s not a miracle cure. I can’t eat anything I want. I can have cheat meals while taking the aloe, as it doesn’t seem to upset my system in the least if I devour the occasional big boy and fries or pizza and salad. If I try to do it 2 days in a row, my digestion slows, I experience nausea and pseudo-blockage. For me, this is a huge improvement and I will happily take it. Results for you may be quite a bit different depending on disease progression and other personal factors.
Aloe is also great for spoonies for a variety of other reasons. It can greatly reduce inflammation (one of the reasons it works so well for GP and IBS), which translates into a reduction in pain in many ways. For me this has been a reduction in joint pain, tender points and organ pain. I’ve also enjoyed a life with fewer dislocations/subluxations (yes, aloe supports healthy production of collagen and can help with fibromyalgia pain). Even my skin is enjoying my aloe drink. It’s slightly firmer, more youthful and not nearly as dry. I’m actually psoriasis free for the first time in over a decade and it’s WINTER!
I can’t wait to see what other things begin to improve as time goes on. I’m not taking as much as a recommended serving (6-8 ounces) in large part because I think I’m probably going to have to always be on it and with taking it daily, I reason that a smaller dose is okay. So far, it seems more than sufficient.
Will Aloe Heal My Chronic Conditions?
We’d all love to find a miracle cure, but really, the best we can usually hope for is something that quells our symptoms without serious side effects. The only side effects I’ve seen to taking aloe vera have been overwhelmingly positive and I aim to keep it that way by ensuring I’m taking aloin free gels and juices only.
I don’t really know if aloe can offer actual permanent healing of any of my complex chronic illnesses, but I know as time goes on I do feel better and better and I’m able to eat more and more foods that were once barred from my diet. I’m not sure if the aloe is responsible or my MCAS meds or the combination, but I am hopeful that this could spell long term permanent change. For now, I’m just happy it’s working and I get to occasionally enjoy some of the wonderful foods I’ve been missing for years. For now, aloe is a blessing and I can really only hope that it remains that way.
Below are the articles I used to research aloe, including those test results. If you can’t find Lakewood or can’t afford AV’s drink gel, perhaps there’s another on the list that’s at the right price point and available to you. Just remember, if you decide to take aloe, please be sure you pick a reliable, high quality brand and be sure to avoid aloin to ensure you’re reaping all of the benefits of aloe with none of the dangers!
As always, thanks for taking the time to read. If you’ve tried aloe or have any questions, let us know! If you can think of someone who might benefit from the knowledge I just put down, leave a link somewhere for them to find and pick up.
UPDATE: Important Things to Consider When Taking Aloe Vera Drinks
January 16, 2019 I just released this article about what happened when I didn’t consider the full ramifications of supplementing daily with aloe. I gave myself a big scare. Whatever you do, take the claim that it can increase absorption by 300% seriously and adjust any vitamins and minerals you take as necessary, testing them as needed. My potassium serum levels looked okay, but I was over-saturating my cells and could have had a heart attack. Some of my other levels were too high as well:
Some vitamins and minerals accumulate in the body until they reach toxic levels. Potassium is one example. Vitamin D is another. Since my potassium was so obviously being affected by my use of aloe, I felt it was best to decrease my vitamin D. I’m glad I did. I tested in the high normal range 2 weeks after cutting my dose in half. We also retested my sodium and it’s no longer too high (it was just borderline high two days prior to surgery), however it is just under the bar for high, which means I can cut back on my salt intake as well.
Truly, the fact that aloe can make a stomach like mine absorb things normally is something to celebrate. I’ll be saving a small fortune in vitamins and minerals and getting most of what I need from good old food. Just don’t be like me and wait to adjust these things until after there’s a problem. Vitamin toxicity isn’t always easy to figure out and can be quite serious. See my post about it for more information.
I also noted a few other warnings and contraindications for use in my original post on Aloe. I was remiss not sharing them here, too:
Aloe Vera can even help lower blood sugar, but that can be both a plus and a minus. If you have problems keeping your blood sugar regulated in the first place, it could cause more problems and it may not be ideal if you suffer from hyperglycemia or diabetes. It’s also possible that aloe may decrease the body’s ability to clot the blood, so its consumption is not recommended prior to surgery. Finally, a special note for the masties; when used topically, it can increase the absorption of hydrocortisone cream.
On a positive note, my blood sugar is actually down a bit, so I can attest that claim is also valid. I’ll continue to update as I learn more about this fascinating substance.
This site is not intended to replace the medical advice of a trained medical professional. Readers are advised to consult a physician or other qualified health care professional regarding treatment of their medical problems. The author disclaims liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use or application of any of the contents of this site or its articles.