I routinely encounter people in both my hospital work and private practice who struggle with digestive problems.
This can range from IBS, Celiac disease and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) to simple, uncomplicated constipation. Regardless of the digestive issue, at some point, good gut health requires a strong microbiota (gut bacteria).
For that reason, a nutrition geek like myself gets excited about a prebiotic fiber that is well tolerated even by those with bloating, diarrhea, gas, and constipation. A product or supplement with a wide application is huge for both myself as a practitioner and for the people who come to me for help.
FUN FACT: prebiotic is defined as “a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit” (1).
As far as nutrition goes, prebiotics largely referred to prebiotic fibers that the bacteria of your digestive tract can use. They ferment these fibers as food and, in turn, increase in numbers. Prebiotics selectively increase the population of those bacteria with health-promoting properties.
The catch 22 is that we need prebiotics if we want to have the healthiest guts possible. Finding a well-tolerated prebiotic isn’t just a challenge for hose with digestive issues, it can be a challenge for anyone because they can cause problems if taken in large amounts, too quickly and frequently. Cue excessive gas and bloating.
What is guar gum?
Guar gum is a type of carbohydrate that is made from legumes called guar beans. It’s a long chain of sugar molecules composed of mannose and galactose a.k.a. “galactomannon” (2).
Guar gum is frequently used as a food additive in many processed foods. Like many fibers, guar gum is capable of absorbing water to form a gel. This gelling property is used in food production to thicken and bind products (2).
- Ice cream
- Salad dressing
- Breakfast cereals
Partially hydrolyzed guar gum
Guar gum has what’s referred to as a high viscosity; when mixed with fluids, it can create a thick, sticky gel that’s semi-fluid consistency. Partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG) on the other hand is a water-soluble dietary fiber with a lower viscosity and has a wide range of uses in clinical nutrition.
PHGG is one of the most well-tolerated prebiotics. It can be used by those with digestive issues such as IBS, or symptoms of bloating, gas, and diarrhea, as well as, constipation. It can also be used as a general fiber supplement.
PHGG has a decent amount of evidence for its use in a range of health conditions. In addition to those mentioned above, it helps to keep post-prandial (after meal) blood sugar low, balance blood lipids (triglycerides, cholesterol), and increase satiety which may help with weight management.
The Right Fibre 4 IBS Intestinal Discomfort
The Right Fibre 4 by Webber Naturals is an easy-to-use soluble, dietary fiber product that contains PHGG. Each scoop provides 5 g of PHGG per serving and dissolves rapidly and mixes clear, unlike other psyllium-based fiber supplements. NO GRITTINESS 🙂
I started using PHGG a few years ago with my clients with much success specifically because it’s both effective and well-tolerated. There are other PHGG products on the market but for some reason, they are just priced higher. The active ingredient is the same.
The Right Fibre 4 is one of my go-to prebiotics and fiber supplements because I, and my clients, get good results from it. As mentioned above, people with digestive issues still need to, and benefit from, strengthening their gut bacteria/microbiota. Of course, I don’t treat everyone the same by taking the same approach but having digestive issues doesn’t preclude the need for a safe and tolerated prebiotic.
*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can buy The Right Fibre 4 IBS Intestinal Discomfort (here)
Health benefits of PHGG
PHGG has a wide range of health benefits that almost everyone can benefit from. Maintaining a healthy digestive tract has far-reaching benefits beyond just having a good poop. As well, essentially everyone in the Western world is susceptible to the ultimate negative impact that the modern diet has on their metabolic health.
PHGG and digestive health
As a source of prebiotic fiber, PHGG supports your digestive tract. In a 2012 study, 60 subjects who took 15 g of PHGG per day had a significant decrease in the number of harmful bacteria in their digestive tract (5).
Prebiotic fibers such as PHGG increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut. Two such species are Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus; both considered to be the most abundant in the digestive tract.
When bacteria ferment (“eat’) prebiotic fiber, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which are highly beneficial to the cells of your gut. They love to use SCFAs as fuel. SCFAs may also reduce the risk for inflammatory diseases, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other conditions (6).
PHGG and constipation
By increasing the number of good bacteria, and by improving the quality of stool, PHGG has been shown to help treat and prevent constipation. Studies have shown that PHGG increases the speed of movement through the intestinal tract increasing bowel movement frequency (7).
Studies have used various dosages too, with benefits seen with doses as low as 5 g/day up to 36 g/day (5). A systematic review and meta-analysis looking at the impact of PHGG on constipation prevention found that PHGG led to a favourable impact on constipation prevention of a similar magnitude that was achieved with laxatives (8).
PHGG and blood sugar
As a viscous fiber, PHGG has been shown to help lower blood sugar. This is because it can slow the digestion of sugar (from the carbohydrates you eat) which leads to a more tempered increase in blood sugar (9).
One study looking at those with diabetes who were given guar gum four times a day found that the fiber led to a significant decrease in blood sugar and a drop in LDL cholesterol concentration (10). The LDL improvement being a proxy for improved metabolic health/response.
Another study had similar findings. In a double-blind, cross-over trial including 11 people with Type 2 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, consuming 21 g/day of guar gum significantly improved blood sugar control in all 11 participants (11).
PHGG improves IBS symptoms
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, is no fun. Whether it’s IBS-D, IBS-C or IBS-M, it can greatly reduce your quality of life. Anything that can help with not only symptoms but also support a healthy digestive tract is welcomed news. This is where a PHGG product like The Right Fibre 4 IBS Intestinal Discomfort can help.
PHGG as been shown to improve many common symptoms of IBS such as:
- Flatulence (gas)
- Abdominal pain
- Bowel movements (quality of them)
- Abdominal spasms
A common risk factor for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is IBS. By increasing the number of good bacteria including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, those with SIBO/IBS-C may benefit from the decrease in methane that’s seen with PHGG consumption (12).
A recent 6-week study followed 68 participants with IBS. It found that guar gum improved IBS symptoms, and in some patients, it also reduced bloating while increasing stool frequency (13).
As with other indications for PHGG such as constipation or blood sugar control. studies looking at the impact of PHGG on IBS commonly used dosages in the 5-10 g/day range.
The Right Fibre 4 IBS Intestinal Discomfort is Monash University Low FODMAP certified meaning it’s appropriate to be used by those with IBS.
Dietary fiber, in general, has been shown to increase satiety while reducing appetite (14).
Considering the average North American only gets about 15 g of fiber per day compared to the recommended 25 to 38 g per day, increasing fiber is a good thing. In fact, one study found that simply getting an extra 14 g of fiber per day may lead to a 10% decrease in total daily calories consumed (15).
Some studies suggest that guar gum could help with weight loss and weight management. A fiber supplement such as The Right Fibre 4 could help fill the fiber gap.
A 2015 review found that PHGG improved satiety and sense of fullness resulting in a reduced number of calories consumed from snacking (16). Another study found that 15 g of guar gum per day (3 servings) help women lost 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) more than those who took a placebo (17).
Taking partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG)
A PHGG product like The Right Fibre 4 is easy to use. It mixes rapidly and easily in water and mixes clear without any grittiness. One serving provides 5 g of partially hydrolyzed guar gum and I recommend people start with that (18).
Studies show that at least 5 plus grams per day are needed to start to see a prebiotic effect with increases in the beneficial bacteria. Studies have also used up to 20 or more grams per day depending on the clinical issue and a person’s response. There’s no one right dose for everyone!
As with any medication or other supplements, leveraging them for long term health is the long game. It’s going to take a few weeks to see an improved, and more importantly, sustained benefit. Be patient, it will take a bit of time to establish a new baseline for yourself.
The Right Fibre 4 and PHGG is a well-tolerated prebiotic fiber supplement.
There is a decent amount of research demonstrating that it’s a safe and effective product to use in those with digestive health issues, as well as, those with constipation or for those looking to increase their fiber.
PHGG has been shown to improve IBS -related symptoms of bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. It’s also been shown to improve blood sugar control in both diabetics and non-diabetics, as well as, balance blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
In addition to increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut, PHGG may help to increase satiety leading to better weight management.
What’s not to like?