Dietary fibre & prebiotics are cementing themselves as essential components to long term health & well-being. Science is beginning to confirm that without these dietary inclusions, there may be a considerable detriment to our health & subsequent increases in chronic disease risk. It’s a very interesting time in the field of clinical research, especially in the microbiome sector.
Partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG), a form of prebiotic fibre, has become a fascinating & exciting new treatment strategy from a number of health conditions including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), metabolic syndrome & acute digestive conditions such as diarrhoea. PHGG is a great prebiotic fibre, which is well tolerated – even for individuals who are required to be on a low FODMAP regime, is flavourless & incredibly cost-effective. It seems there is no reason not to try PHGG!
What is Partially Hydrolysed Guar Gum?
Most people are probably familiar with guar gum, a commonly used thickener & emulsifier in food processing. Guar gum is a polysaccharide found in the seeds of the guar plant, native to India & Pakistan. Guar also contains a high level of galactomannan, a gel-forming substance which is responsible for its ability to thicken. Because of this, guar gum is naturally very viscous & thickens when mixed with liquid. By partially hydrolysing the guar gum, the end product is a much more water-soluble, in fact, PHGG dissolves completely in any fluid to form a flavourless substance.
PHGG has been shown to increase concentrations of both species bifidobacterium & lactobacillus as well as increase short-chain fatty acid production.
To summaries here are a few of the beneficial features to using PHGG:
- prebiotic fibre- improves the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract
- water-soluble & much less viscose than unhydrolysed guar gum.
- heat tolerant – so can be added to both hot & cold liquids
- FODMAP friendly
Here are some examples of health conditions where PHGG has been clinically trialled & shown to have beneficial influence:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is one of the most commonly diagnosed functional gastrointestinal disorder, with its prevalence still on the rise. Unfortunately, the pathophysiologic mechanisms of IBS are still up for discussion & not well defined, making IBS a difficult condition to treat for many individuals. PHGG was seen to be a great treatment choice as it was clinically shown to improve the quality of life for these individuals in a way that was clinically significant.
PHGG has been suggested as a reasonable therapeutic strategy in the treatment of IBS including all subtypes IBS constipation-predominant (IBS-C), IBS diarrhoea-predominant (IBS-D) & diarrhoea-constipation mixed. A number of clinical trials have shown that PHGG may improve common symptoms associated with both IBS-C & IBS-D. PHGG significantly relieved symptoms of bloating, gas formation & pain when compared to placebo. Many individuals experienced improvement in bowel regularity (either increase or reduced transit time) & better stool formation. There were also no noted side effects expressed in each of the studies, confirming the safety & suitability of PHGG for a number of individuals.
Metabolic syndrome is characterised by a number of health factors including elevated cholesterol levels, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood glucose & increased abdominal adiposity (fat). A clinical trial published in the British Journal of Nutrition found the inclusion of 10g of PHGG over a period of 6 weeks to improve a number of markers associated with metabolic syndrome including waist circumference, HbA1Cc levels & serum trans-fatty acids thus improving cardiovascular & metabolic status of those at-risk individuals. PHGG was found to reduce the intestinal uptake of fat & cholesterol, leading to better cholesterol management.
As always if you are considering adding any nutritional supplement into your current regime, please consult your health care professional to ensure it’s the right fit for you & your current state of health.