The Health Benefits of Acacia Fiber or Gum Arabic

Acacia fiber may improve heart health, diabetes, and IBS

Acacia fiber in a bowl

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Eating a high-fiber diet is good for your gut, weight, and heart. But, like most people, you may have a hard time meeting your daily fiber needs and may wonder if a fiber supplement can help.

Acacia fiber, also known as gum arabic, is a dried gummy substance made from the sap of the Acacia tree, a plant indigenous to certain parts of Africa and Asia. Food manufacturers use acacia fiber to thicken beverages and enhance flavor and texture in breakfast cereals. Because it’s rich in soluble fiber, acacia fiber is also added to food as a source of dietary fiber.

Acacia fiber is also sold as a dietary supplement said to offer a number of health benefits. Available in powdered form, the fiber supplement has a neutral taste and mixes well with drinks, smoothies, and soups.

Health Benefits

Because of its high soluble fiber content, acacia fiber is said to provide many health benefits, such as improving heart health, protecting against diabetes, and easing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. It may also suppress appetite and support gut health. However, the evidence to support all of these health benefits is limited. Here is what you need to know about the potential health benefits.

Heart Health

People who eat more fiber are at lower risk of developing heart disease. Fiber benefits heart health by lowering cholesterol. More specifically, soluble fiber lowers cholesterol by reducing absorption of cholesterol in the gut and increasing excretion of bile—a substance made from cholesterol in your liver that helps digest fat in food.

Acacia fiber is rich in soluble fiber, but the evidence that it might benefit heart health by lowering cholesterol is mixed. A 2015 clinical trial published in Frontiers in Physiology investigated the lipid lowering effects of a gum arabic supplement in a group of men with high cholesterol. The researchers found a significant reduction in total cholesterol and bad cholesterol numbers (low-density lipoprotein) after 4 weeks of supplementation.

However, a 2021 study published in Nutrients found no changes in cholesterol levels in a group of people with heart disease risk factors after taking a gum arabic supplement for 12 weeks. But, the researchers did note a significant decrease in blood pressure, another heart disease risk factor. 

Protect Against Diabetes

There’s also a connection between dietary fiber and risk of type 2 diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus. Fiber in food slows down digestion and the rate of glucose absorption. In turn, this decreases insulin levels and the insulin resistance that leads to high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes.

However, there’s little evidence to support the claim that supplementation with acacia fiber protects against diabetes. The 2021 study in Nutrients found that supplementation lowered fasting blood sugar levels, but had no effect on hemoglobin A1C levels, which measures the average blood sugar over a 3-month period.

Acacia fiber supplementation may improve diabetes management by preventing weight gain, lowering blood pressure, and modifying the effects body fat has on insulin resistance, according to a 2018 clinical trial published in Lipids in Health and Disease. When consumed with a high-carbohydrate meal, acacia fiber may also lower blood sugar and insulin levels.

Ease IBS Symptoms

Some acacia fiber dietary supplement makers claim this fiber supplement eases IBS-related constipation and diarrhea. A 2012 study published in World Journal of Gastroenterology, found a yogurt enriched with acacia fiber and Bifidobacterium lactis (B. lactis) eased IBS symptoms better than regular yogurt.

However, a more recent review investigating the benefits of fiber and probiotic supplements for the management of IBS says more research is needed.

Suppress Appetite

Dietary fiber takes longer to digest, prolonging satiety. A 2021 study published in Nutrients tested how well supplementation with acacia fiber suppressed appetite in a group of healthy humans.

Participants were given a glass of juice with zero, 20 grams, or 40 grams of acacia fiber and a bagel with cream cheese after a 12-hour fast. The researchers found that consuming 40 grams of acacia fiber supplementation suppressed appetite for up to 4 hours.

Other studies had similar findings. The authors of the satiety study suggest adding gum arabic to food may help bridge the fiber intake gap while impacting appetite.

Improve Gut Health

The digestive system is unable to break down fiber, helping bulk up and soften stool, and improving elimination of waste. But fiber also serves as a source of food for the microbes that live in your large intestine.

Currently, researchers are looking at how acacia fiber might improve the balance of good bacteria in your gut as a prebiotic. Though results show promise, research is limited to test tube and animal studies. More research is needed in humans to determine if this is a valid claim.

Possible Side Effects

In doses as high as 40 grams, acacia fiber supplements are well tolerated. However, possible side effects from this fiber supplements include bloating, gas, nausea, constipation, mild diarrhea, or cramping. 

Acacia fiber is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive and is generally recognized as safe (GRAS). However, little is known about the safety of long-term use of acacia fiber when consumed in high doses because of a lack of research.

Dosage and Preparation

There’s no set dosage for acacia fiber. Clinical studies used varying amounts of the fiber supplement, ranging from 20 grams to 40 grams. Read the supplement facts label of your fiber supplement for dosage guidance. 

Acacia fiber supplements come in powdered form and mix well with beverages, smoothies, and soups. When adding a fiber supplement to your daily routine, start with a small amount of fiber and slowly increase to the recommended dose. Taking too much fiber too quickly may cause abdominal pain, bloating, or constipation. You also need to increase your fluid intake when adding more fiber to your diet.

Adults need 21 to 38 grams of dietary fiber a day, or 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories. With 17.1 grams of fiber in a 20-gram serving, one serving of gum arabic may provide most of your daily fiber needs. However, you should not rely on supplements as a source of health-promoting nutrients.  

Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from all the food groups should help you meet your daily fiber needs and provide other nutrients not available in a supplement. Talk to a healthcare provider about dietary supplements before adding them to your routine.

What to Look For

Unlike drugs, the FDA doesn’t review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they hit the shelves. It’s up to the manufacturer of the dietary supplement to ensure their product is safe.

When looking for dietary supplements, select those that have a trusted independent third party label, such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, or ConsumerLab. These are independent labs that check supplement safety.

You also want to look at the supplement facts label for the list of ingredients and the list of active ingredients. The active ingredients in a dietary supplement may have strong effects on your body or interact with other supplements or medications. 

Avoid any supplement that makes claims about treating or curing a disease. It’s illegal for supplement makers to promote their products as treatments or cures for any specific disease.

The FDA intends to propose that acacia fiber be included as part of the FDA’s definition of dietary fiber for declaration on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Label. A dietary fiber is a naturally occurring plant fiber the FDA has determined has beneficial physiological effects in humans.

In the proposal, the FDA says that there’s scientific evidence that acacia fiber lowers blood glucose and insulin levels when consumed with a meal that raises blood glucose levels. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take for acacia fiber to work?

    How long acacia fiber takes to work depends on the reason you’re taking the supplement. For blood glucose and insulin levels, as well as appetite suppression, the fiber may work soon after consumption. For heart or gut health, the evidence is limited and it may take several weeks to work.

  • How do you get acacia fiber to dissolve?

    Read the supplement facts label for how best to dissolve your acacia fiber supplement. The powder mixes well with hot and cold beverages. Measure out the suggested dose and place it in an empty glass, then add a cup of water and stir until the powder dissolves.

  • How effective is acacia fiber for regularity?

    There is evidence that acacia fiber may be an effective supplement for bowel regularity. Studies indicate that the fiber works better at regulating bowel movements than a placebo. There’s also evidence that acacia fiber works as well as other treatments for relieving constipation, like psyllium fiber and Miralax.

  • What is the difference between psyllium and acacia fiber?

    Psyllium and acacia fiber are both rich in soluble fiber. Psyllium is primarily used as a bulk-forming laxative to ease constipation and improve bowel regularity. There’s also evidence that psyllium fiber may help relieve diarrhea and assist in hemorrhoid treatment by softening stools.

    Like acacia fiber, psyllium is touted to provide many health benefits, but evidence to support these claims is lacking.

  • When should you take acacia fiber?

    Read the supplement facts label to determine when you should take your acacia fiber supplement. There are no set guidelines for when or how to use this fiber supplement. Your healthcare provider can offer guidance on when you should take a fiber supplement.

    When adding acacia fiber to your daily routine, start with a low dose and slowly increase to your target dose over several days. Adding too much fiber too quickly may cause gastrointestinal problems like gas and bloating. Make sure you increase fluid intake when adding more fiber to your diet.

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14 Sources
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