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Soluble fibre soothes irritable bowel

People with a chronic condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find relief by consuming soluble fiber (psyllium).

Soluble fibre soothes irritable bowel

People with a chronic condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find relief by consuming soluble fiber (psyllium). But they'll get no relief - and perhaps more bowel upset - from bran.

IBS involves chronic abdominal discomfort and irregular bowel habits. Some experts have advised increased intake of dietary fiber, but data on the effectiveness of this approach has been limited.

Researchers in United Kingdom, therefore, studied 275 patients suffering with IBS, aged between 18 and 65 years,,to determine the effectiveness of increasing the dietary content of soluble fibre (psyllium) or insoluble fibre (bran) in patients with IBS. All the participants consumed either 10 grams of psyllium, bran or a placebo twice daily for three months. Then the researchers checked the patient' symptoms at one, two and three months, including abdominal pain and quality of life.

Psyllium was found to be the most effective in treating IBS. After three months of follow-up, people taking psyllium had a 90-point drop in symptom severity, on average compared to a 58-point drop among those taking bran and 49-point drop for those taking the placebo. While symptom severity was eased, the researchers found no difference between the groups in terms of abdominal pain or quality of life.

Bran showed no clinically relevant benefits. In fact, many patients couldn't tolerate the bran and this group experienced the highest dropout rate. The researchers concluded that psyllium, but not bran, may be a useful first treatment approach to help manage IBS.
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