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Vivagave Fiber Supplement Review

Did you know that we should be getting 20 – 35 grams of fiber a day and that the average American’s mean fiber intake is around 14 – 15 grams a day??  Check out this article on the importance of fiber from WebMD.

20 – 35 grams of fiber can be tough to achieve if one dines primarily on fast and convenient food!  I think back to my days at Ohio State and my daily meals of Ramen Noodles and Taco Bell (typical “food” on a college budget), and it makes me shudder to think of it!  Anyway, fast forward a couple of years (okay, 12) and things are much much different!  I have now have this “little” thing called celiac disease so Ramen noodles and fast food are definitely off the table (which is one benefit of having celiac disease!!) but I am also older, and somewhat wiser.  I try to learn something new everyday, and when I was going through my medical odyssey with Sam and Luke a couple of years ago, I learned quite a bit from their pediatrician and pediatric GI on how the human body works, especially the GI tract.  Sam and Luke were on opposite ends of the spectrum though, one needed fiber and one needed Miralax.  Here is a link to an article on the Basics of the Digestive System on KidsHealth.org.  I have been going over it with Sam to help him better understand celiac disease and the importance of a gluten-free diet so he can absorb important nutrients.

Since this is a fiber post, I will stick with fiber (gotta resist the urge for a major ADD tangent!).  I prefer that my family and I get as much fiber as possible from whole foods.  You always hear how hard it is to get fiber on the gluten-free diet, but I really don’t think that is true.  The problem, I think, is how we eat.

I can only speak for myself, but at the time I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I was relying a lot on all the “fortified” foods at the supermarket to get my “nutrients.”  Even Wonder Bread has fiber and vitamins added, but that does not necessarily make Wonder Bread a wise food choice!  Or all the sugary kid cereals that are fortified with vitamins and minerals, or are labeled that they are made with “Whole Grains” but contain so many other questionable ingredients.

I am much more aware today than I was even a year ago, heck, 3 months ago, when I saw Food, Inc., The Future of Food and King Corn for the first time!  It angers me that unless you are consciously looking for the complete truth about what’s in our food (or where it comes from), you will have absolutely no idea.  You certainly will not find the truth labeled on all the brightly colored packages at the supermarket.

I STILL cannot go into the grocery store without replaying the intro of Food Inc. in my head!!

Apparently, I still managed to sneak in a tangent… but seriously, if you have not seen either of these documentaries, I cannot encourage you enough to watch them.  If for no other reason, it may speed up your acceptance of the gluten-free diet! ;-)

When I was newly diagnosed with celiac disease and didn’t know the first thing about gluten-free cooking (which really isn’t hard if you go naturally gluten-free), and was still craving the foods I grew up on; I relied a lot on gluten-free processed foods.  Back then at least, GF processed foods were not only horrible in taste, but they weren’t fortified with vitamins and minerals the same way mainstream gluten-containing processed foods are.  I am thankful now (5 years later), that my taste buds have changed for the better (so if you are newly diagnosed… I promise, it DOES get easier!), and we eat a diet that is primarily naturally gluten-free; whole fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. It is healthier and a LOT less expensive than buying gluten-free processed foods.  It took me time though, to get to this place, in terms of taste and emotional acceptance.

So, from the point of my diagnosis to where I am today, I relied a lot on supplements, and I still take them as added “insurance.”  A couple of months ago I found a new fiber supplement to try and we love it, even Sam and Luke, just by the fact that they don’t know I have put it in their food or beverage! It is called Vivagave, an Organic Blue Agave Inulin powder (read the health effects section on the Inulin link). Here is a bit of information on Vivagave from their website:

As a soluble fiber, this versatile Prebiotic can be used to aid in the growth of “good” intestinal bacteria.

Agave Inulin has a minimal impact on blood sugar, is not insulemic, will not raise triglycerides; making agave inulin a low glycemic product. Inulin also increases calcium and magnesium absorption.

A diet rich in soluble fiber, such as inulin, helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract and may help promote regularity

10 grams of fiber in 1 tablespoon!

I found Vivagave at my local Whole Foods. It was not in the vitamin/supplement section of the store, but in the grocery section near the agave nectar. A 7-ounce package is $8.99, a really good price compared to other fiber supplements and 7-oz. goes a long way! Mike and I each take a tablespoon a day, and I put one teaspoon’s worth in Sam and Luke’s milk, juice, yogurt or something else that I can blend it in, like the chocolate “pudding” below or mashed potatoes, etc. Just for reference, here is a good article titled High-Fiber Foods for Gluten-Free Diets. On the first page is a guideline for how much fiber children need. There are also some great suggestions for foods with high-fiber content.

Vivagave is a superfine white powder and it dissolves well without giving you that “texture” common in some fiber supplements:

I like to add a tablespoon to my Chobani Greek Yogurt:

This morning, I put some in Luke’s chocolate pudding (wait till you see what this “pudding” is made of! I will post that next):

The powder totally disappears!

The “proof is in the pudding!” :-D

Vivagave also comes in Vanilla and Chocolate, but we haven’t tried those yet.

There are also other ways of adding fiber into your diet.  I have been experimenting a lot lately with replacing eggs in my baked goods with flax gel for added fiber and less cholesterol.  I have also been putting beans in my baked goods, like black beans in brownies or the chocolate chips cookies with garbanzo beans/chickpeas recipe I posted back in October.  Beans “hide” very well in baked goods!! :-)

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Comments

  1. Tai says:

    Did you see my post on R.O.C.K about fiber?! This isn't the first timeyou have have read my mind! Olive has very little fiber in her diet right now. I can't get her to eat any fruits, nuts or veggies. She is living on eggs, cheese and popcorn with the occasional bowl of chocolate chex mix! I gave her Miralax today because I am starting to see the signs of constipation again. I don't want her to need to be on this long term. I will be looking into Vivagave asap! Thanks for the heads up! I am trying to rework my thought process. I used to bake everything from scratch w/ freshly ground whole wheat flour. I am having such a hard time "replacing" what we loved with all the white starchy flours of gf baking.

  2. Judee DeJaco says:

    Yes, Viv Agave Inulin Powder is quite versatile. It is the key ingredient in my new Gluten Free You and Me HIGH FIBER French White Bread Mix. Would you like one to sample and give me feed back on?

    (FYI. I have purchased the Viv Agave in bulk.)

  3. Tai,

    No, I didn't see your post, LOL! Welcome to the world of gluten-free moms, we all face similar issues at one point in time or another!

    First thing first, I am NOT a doctor, dietitian, etc., etc., ALWAYS consult with a trained professional before self-treating your child.

    That being said, I will tell you about my experience with Sam's severe constipation issue and what Sam's GI told me. Sam was so severely constipated that he was on Miralax for a year before I weaned him off. The GI told me that his bowel wall had begun to distend (stretch), so he was not only dealing with the current constipation, he was essentially "collecting" even more fecal matter that he was not eliminating (impaction). As his bowel stretched out, it made his "poo" very wide in diameter, so it was even more painful for him to eliminate it (and he would withhold the urge "to go"), all of those things combined consequently gave him the feeling of "fullness" so he wouldn't eat much. Sam's doctor had me reduce the amount of dairy he was consuming (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.), as dairy can "bind you up." I also had to increase his water intake (be it in the form of plain water, Juice, Koolaid, popsicles, etc., whatever he would drink that wasn't dairy). We also got him moving even more than he already was, by going for family walks and getting him into gymnastics, sports, etc., the physical movement helped to move "everything" out.

    Lastly, we had to basically re-toilet train him so that he would quit fearing going to the bathroom. We made it fun with rewards, silly songs, etc. I cannot tell you how many times I would sit on the floor of the bathroom and be his "poo coach!" It takes time, and it is heart-wrenching to see your child go through it, and that is why I was thankful for the Miralax. I hated that he had to take it, but I hated seeing him in pain even more.

    Another tip as far as what I did when Sam was newly gluten-free. We went off of bread altogether for awhile and went naturally gluten-free. This period of time allowed his taste-buds to "reset" so eventually he was more accepting of the gluten-free tastes and textures. Thankfully, it was not long after that, that I found Udi's and life was good again (I cannot stress enough how good Udi's bread is!!). There is only 1 gram of fiber per slice, but I sneak fiber in everywhere else, in addition to the Vivagave. Sam and I love the Perky's Nutty Flax and Nutty Rice Cereal by Enjoy Life Foods: http://adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com/2010/01/07/… The Nutty Flax has 6 grams of fiber in a 3/4 cup serving. I like to add sliced bananas with it for a bowl of cereal or top my yogurt with it!

    I also make some cereal bars with the Nutty cereals that even Luke likes: http://adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com/2010/01/07/

    Kim from Gluten-Free Is Life has a spin on that recipe for cereal bars too: http://www.glutenfreeislife.com/?p=2387

    Go slow on the fiber though, especially if Olive isn't used to it. Water is a big help with stool softening! :-)

    I hope that helps Tai! :-)

  4. Todd Bender says:

    Heidi, thank you so much for this post! It's something I have been wondering about.

  5. Tai says:

    Sam sounds just like Liv. That is exactly how her GI said she was. We had her on Miralax for a few weeks. She loves cheese, and since she is hardly eating anything I have let her have some. Now we are noticing the binding issue again…so there goes her cheese. I put her on Miralax again the last two days to prevent another major issue. She is "going" nicely now. I have to figure out how to get her to eat again! I think we are going to go "natural" too. My older two just are not receptive to all this new food, and frankly I can't have it anyway (so high in carbs…doesn't go well w/ pre-diabetes). Then we will start adding things back in one at a time. That makes so much more sense to me. Thanks for the help! I really appreciate it.

    • Tai,

      You know what my kids eat, just about every day (when they aren't eating PB & J on Udi's bread)? I buy the Boar's Head Low Sodium Turkey or Ham and roll it up. They only like PB & J on bread, no other sandwich filling. They will eat the bread on the side, but not a meat sandwich.

      I do that too, but I roll the turkey in lettuce. My favorite is lettuce, a tsp. of Olive Oil Mayo, the low-sodium turkey, and a small slice of Pepper Jack Cheese. Sometimes I will add tomato slices, although I am avoiding "fresh" tomatoes this year until they are in season; I also like adding banana peppers.

      I also give my kids fruit salad everyday, depending on what is in season. I cut up apples, throw in grapes, bananas, what have you.

      I am working on several lunch posts to tie in with a new (and VERY COOL!) giveaway that I will be launching on Monday. So check back for some other ideas! :-)

  6. Renee says:

    Could you please tell me if you've used this in baked goods? Added it to soups? I'd appreciate it, thank you! Enjoy your blog very much!

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