Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) should be eating a diet rich in soluble fiber, a new study suggests.
A small Dutch study of 275 patients, aged 18-65, and published in the British Medical Journal, has highlighted questions about the effectiveness of bran as a treatment for IBS.The study was led by Dr C J Bijkerk, in an attempt to discover whether extra soluble fibre (psyllium), or insoluble fibre (bran), would help patients with IBS. Participants in the study were given 10g of either psyllium, bran, or rice flour (a placebo), twice a day for 12 weeks.
Researchers found that the psyllium, a naturally-occurring vegetable fiber, had a beneficial effect, with symptoms being reduced by 90 points on a standard scale. The patients taking bran saw a 58 point decrease, and the placebo group had a 49 point decrease. However, the rate of early drop out from the study was highest in the bran group, with patients reporting that their symptoms had increased.
Although this is a small study, it does suggest that soluble fiber is more effective, than insoluble fiber in treating IBS. Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of food through the intestines, whereas soluble fiber binds with fatty acids and prolongs stomach emptying time.
If you have IBS, you may want to try increasing your intake of soluble fiber (though do talk to your doctor about dietary changes).
Good sources of soluble fiber include:
- Oats and oat bran
- Dried beans and peas
- Flax seed
- Some fruits, eg. apples, oranges and strawberries
- Psyllium, which was used in the study
The researchers felt that supplementation was needed, though. One of the scientists, Dr Niek de Wit said:
It is unlikely that people with IBS would get enough from fruit and other foods to help them… I think adding psyllium to the diet is the best treatment option to start with. In the study, people did this by adding it to things such as yoghurt and it had a real effect.
Do you suffer from IBS? What have you found to be helpful?