A recently-published review shows that a personalised approach to dietary fibre is the most promising solution for IBS. Here’s the science digested.
When it comes to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the dietary advice is often generic, and one-size-fits-all. In terms of fibre recommendations, people are usually recommended single-ingredient fibres (e.g., fybogel, physllium husk). But a recent review by Monash University urges doctors to start personalising fibre recommendations in IBS.
This study highlights that not all fibres are created equally, but have very different functions and health benefits in the body. Importantly, no single type of fibre can offer the entire range of therapeutic benefits. We need the right diversity of fibres in the right proportions.
What are the right types of fibre for me?
By understanding the roles of fibre in the body, we can start to personalise fibre recommendations based on symptoms and health goals.
🍏 Bulking fibres
How they work: As the name suggests, they add bulk and weight to the contents of the digestive system. They are not fermented or are minimally fermented in the intestine, and do not largely contribute to microbiome health.
Benefits: Relieving constipation and diarrhoea
Examples: Apple skins, wheat bread, and potatoes.
🍌 Slowly fermented soluble fibres
How they work: These are complex, longer-chain fibres. This means that they are slowly fermented throughout the whole length of the gastrointestinal tract without causing a rapid build-up of gas.
Benefits: Feeding beneficial gut bacteria and producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs help to reduce intestinal permeability (i.e., gut leakiness), restore the gut lining, and lower inflammation.
Examples: partially hydrolysed guar gum, unripe bananas.
🥬 Rapidly fermented soluble fibres
How they work: These fibres travel to the large intestine where they are rapidly fermented by the gut microbiota. They tend to create a lot of gas and bloating in a short amount of time.
Benefits: Producing large amounts of SCFAs to reduce inflammation in the gut and whole body. Generally NOT suitable for people with IBS.
Examples: asparagus, chicory root, onion, and garlic.
🍠 Thick (viscous) fibres
How they work: These fibres absorb water and form a thick, gel-like substance in the gut. A thicker consistency slows downs the entire digestive process, resulting in slower absorption of sugar and cholesterol into the bloodstream.
Benefits: Relieving diarrhoea, reducing blood sugar spikes, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and keeping you feeling full for longer after a meal.
Examples: oats, asparagus, brussels sprout, sweet potato.
The authors highlight that by combining different fibres in the right quantities, we can achieve multiple health benefits. In IBS, this means we can:
- Relieve tricky digestive symptoms like constipation and diarrhoea
- Feed the beneficial gut microbes and produce anti-inflammatory SCFAs
- Support mental wellbeing
- Minimise gas and bloating (often caused by rapidly fermented fibres)
The future of precision nutrition is here
At myota, we’ve spent years of research to understand how different combinations of fibres produce specific health benefits. As a product of this work, we formulated the Gut regulator, a mix that combines insoluble and slowly fermented soluble fibres. This gentle mix is ideal for those with tricky IBS symptoms.
The most important benefits of your new gut health routine?
🚴🏼♀️ Exercising care-free
👫 Not cancelling plans last minute
🍱 Ability to choose from a larger range of meals on the menu
🚽 Not needing to locate the nearest toilet when out
Learn more about the Gut regulator fibre mix here.