“Higher fibre intake are correlated with lower body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waste circumference, and even helped improve plasma lipid profiles, glycaemia and insulinaemia,”wrote researchers from Curtin University, in Perth, Australia.
However, many people find increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to meet recommended fibre requirements difficult, said researchers, who suggested fibre supplementation as a means to increase intake without major diet changes.
They conducted a study on fibre supplementation’s effects on weight management – with randomised trials in three, six and 12-months durations involving three groups of overweight and obese individuals, ages 19-68 years old.
Each group had 53 participants. Rice flour was the control group supplementation. Polyglycoplex (PGX), a fibre complex made up of natural and highly viscous polysaccharides, was the second group’s fibre supply; and the third got psyllium (PSY), a form of fibre made from the husks of the Plantago ovata plant’s seed.
The participants followed their usual lifestyles, but consumed 5g of their assigned fibre supplement before meals.
Participants’ body weights, heights, waist and hip circumferences were measured at baseline (three, six, and 12 months). They completed three-day food and drink diaries at baseline, three, six and 12 months to monitor for changes in food intake. Fasting blood samples were taken after every trial.
After three months, 127 participants completed the trial, and were included in the analysis (45 in control, 43 in PSY and 39 in PGX).
In six months, 108 participants (38 in Control, 39 in PSY and 31 in PGX) completed the trial, and after 12 month, 93 participants (32 in Control, 36 in PSY and 25 in PGX) were analysed.
Lower cholesterol levels
Findings revealed that total cholesterol levels were “significantly lower in the PGX group at after the three and six months compared to baseline records.”
The cholesterol levels were also lower in the PSY group at three and six months compared to the participants’ baseline measurements.
“Total cholesterol was significantly lower at three months in the PGX (8.2%, p < 0.001) and PSY (7%, p = 0.001) groups and at six months in the PGX (5.5%, p = 0.047) and PSY (5.3%, p = 0.042) groups compared to control. There were no significant differences in total cholesterol between PSY and PGX groups at three, six or 12 months,” wrote the researchers.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – also known as the ‘good cholesterol’ were lower in the PSY group at three months compared to baseline, but higher in the PGX group after 12 months of supplementation compared to that of the control group.
As for LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, both PGX and PSY groups’ levels reduced at three, six and, to a lesser extent, 12 months.
The study reported no significant differences between PSY and PGX groups’ LDL levels during the third, sixth and twelth month of supplementation.
As for glucose, researchers noted that the PGX group showed consistently lower levels at three, six and 12 months of supplementation, compared to both PSY and control groups.
While both PGX and PSY groups showed healthier lipids profiles and lower blood sugar levels compared to the control group after the supplementation trials, the study found that the PGX group had increased HDL cholesterol and decreased fasting blood glucose levels compared to PSY.
“The PGX group performed better overall than the PSY group and elicited more health benefits over the 12 months intervention period,” they said.
Researchers think that the high viscosity of PGX might have caused participants to decrease their food intake, which then lead to significant weight loss, lipid, insulin, and glucose reductions.
“Regular consumption of a polyglycoplex or a psyllium supplement is a simple and effective method to improve blood lipids, insulin and glucose control in overweight or obese people and may lead to risk reduction for metabolic syndrome, CVD and type 2 diabetes,” researchers concluded.
“Effect on Insulin, Glucose and Lipids in overweight/obese Australian adults of 12 months consumption of two different fibre supplements in a randomised trial”
Authors: Sebely Pal, Suleen Ho et al