It’s a critical component of a healthy diet, yet the average American eats far too little of it.
According to the National Institutes of Health, teens and adults should eat between 20 and 38 grams of fiber each day, and men need more fiber than women. But the average American eats only 10 to 15 grams of fiber daily. Those numbers make it seem like a fiber supplement would make sense for most people, yet there’s a big stigma around traditional options like Metamucil.
Namely, it’s associated with old people. And even if you can overcome that long-standing association, many of its formulations are high in added sugar or contain artificial additives. A serving of Metamucil Orange Smooth Fiber Powder, for example, contains a staggering 16 grams of sugar per serving. So consuming that would address the common issue of low fiber consumption, but exacerbate the common issue of consuming way too much added sugar.
This is where the team behind Pinch Magic Fiber—a new all-natural prebiotic and fiber supplement designed for everyday use by consumers ages 12 and up—saw an opportunity. Matt Walker, the co-founder and CEO of Pinch, has long been a fan of fiber’s most publicized benefit—the fact it makes you poop better. Namely, adequate fiber consumption makes bowel movements more bulky; leading to better gut health, less time on the toilet and a more economical usage of toilet paper.
Walker became a regular user of fiber supplements in college, when his diet was anything but conducive to good gut health, and soon converted many of his friends to the same habit. But as he moved from college into adulthood, he became more concerned with what he was putting inside his body. He ventured to find a supplement that tasted good but didn’t contain either a) large amounts of added sugar, or b) undesirable additives and artificial sweeteners like aspartame, but had no luck. So in early 2016, he gathered some like-minded friends and set out to make the product that ultimately became Pinch.
Their first 20 or so formulations were made in their own kitchens using ingredients they ordered straight off Amazon. Predictably, they were pretty disgusting. “We made about 20 different versions—20 horrible versions—in our own kitchen. Then that’s when we decided we needed professional food scientists,” Walker said. “We found some local partners that walked us through all our mistakes—we used a lot of ingredients that didn’t dissolve well in water, for example. Then we went through about two dozen more formulations with this professional team before we got to the final product.”
The result is a product that contains just 30 calories and 3 grams of sugar per serving, yet 5 grams of dietary fiber. It’s also all-natural, gluten-free, vegan friendly, non-GMO and void of any artificial flavors, colors or fillers. The fiber in Pinch comes from psyllium husk powder. Psyllium is the seed of a plant mainly cultivated in northern India, and the husk of said seed is remarkably high in soluble fiber.
There are two types of fiber—soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber is a tough matter found in many whole grains, fruits, veggies and nuts that doesn’t dissolve in water and cannot be broken down by the gut. Soluble fiber is softer and stickier and found in sources like beans, peas, oats and avocados. Soluble fiber absorbs water as it passes through the GI tract, helping stool to move more easily, and it also helps regulate blood sugar levels and protects against heart disease in the long term. Additionally, it helps populate your gut with beneficial bacteria, which has far-reaching health effects throughout the body.
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The high amounts of soluble fiber found in psyllium husk powder is the secret to Pinch’s bowel health powers. According to Examine.com, an independent site that collates scientific research and disseminates information on supplementation and nutrition, psyllium husk “is proven to increase fecal size and moisture, and the most common characteristics of stool following supplementation of psyllium are ‘soft, sleek, and easily passable.’ Relative to other sources of dietary fiber, psyllium appears to be more effective at forming feces and appears to be one of the few fiber sources not associated with excessive flatulence.”
“It’s a very common raw ingredient, people have been taking it for thousands of years in India and China,” Walker says of husk. “Some people will take it by itself and mix it in with water, but it tastes very earthy. So one of the things we wanted to do was find a hint of flavor so it was both palatable—it was something you want to drink everyday—but also not overpoweringly sweet.”
The team ended up settling on a Lemon Ginger flavor that has a nice subtle, agreeable flavor. While I strive to consume adequate amounts of fiber via dietary sources, I can attest that Pinch has made a huge difference in my bowel health since I began regularly consuming it. That could be because a lot of the fiber in my usual diet is of the insoluble variety, so adding more soluble fiber has helped tremendously. Pinch is not a quick fix—it won’t make a difference within hours of taking it, for example—but if you use it on a daily basis, you will notice a change. “It’s not a band-aid. Consistency is key. It’s not a quick fix, this is more of a lifestyle approach for solid gut health,” Walker says.
Pinch has also gone to great lengths to try to avoid the negative connotations associated with popular fiber supplements. For one, the packaging is very simple and low-key. Walker says they strived to make it something consumers wouldn’t mind having on their counter when company comes over. The team also opted for a direct-to-consumer approach after hearing that many people felt uncomfortable buying fiber supplements at their local drug store—even after their doctor had prescribed it. The powder, of which a single order will last you about a month of daily use, arrives in an innocuous brown box. The company recommends using a shaker bottle to achieve the best consistency. If you’re interested in achieving better bowel health and including more fiber in your diet, head to PinchMagic.com.