Studying gut health is tricky because there is little agreement about what constitutes a healthy gut save for the absence of symptoms that consumers find troublesome. Studying populations already in distress, such as those with symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, automatically puts the study into the disease category and thus makes for results that are difficult or impossible to use in the marketing of a dietary supplement.
Stool scale proves useful tool
But with the advent of the Bristol Stool Scale, a validated look at stool consistency and its link to gut health, researchers now have a way around this conundrum. This is the path that Taiyo took with its latest study on Sunfiber, which is a partially hydrolyzed guar gum prebiotic. The study was published recently in the peer reviewed journal Nutrients.
“Gut health can be challenging due to various interpretations of what is healthy. Generally speaking, gut health is the absence of unhealthy conditions or symptoms. Researchers aim to recruit healthy individuals with good gut health by excluding individuals with potentially confounding conditions,” said Derek Timm, PhD, technical sales director for Taiyo.
“In this study, the researchers examined people who tended to have loose stools using the validated Bristol Stool Scale and excluded individuals who had normal stool consistency. Also, this study excluded individuals with IBS or who were but did not have chronic diarrhea or IBS-D. This is very important because the results of this study are pertinent to the general population,” he said.
Longer term study
The study, which was conducted by researchers in Japan, used a group of 44 subjects between the ages of 20 to 49. The subjects were healthy and were experiencing a minimum of seven bowel movements a week with a stool score on the loose end of the scale.
After being split into control and intervention groups, the subjects consumed 5 grams of Sunfiber or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. The trial design included 4-week run-in and wash out periods. The subjects were asked to maintain a normal routine with adequate sleep their regular exercise routines and no excessive eating or drinking. They were also asked not to consume other diet supplements save for the test sachets during the study period and were asked not to smoke.
The researchers concluded that the Sunfiber intervention had a statistically significant effect on the subject’s stool consistency and quality of life.
“This study demonstrated that partially hydrolyzed guar gum normalized stool consistency, helping volunteers with loose stools get closer to a Bristol Stool Scale score of 4. This effect may be modulated through gut microbiota changes, which may also improve mental quality of life,” they concluded.
Study bolsters Sunfiber’s ‘regulating fiber’ claim
Timm said this latest study, when combined with earlier extensive research Taiyo has done on the ingredient, helps prove the case that Sunfiber can be of benefit for consumers who are at a variety of places on the bowel habits comfort scale.
“The current study examined a modest 5 g dose of Sunfiber in a healthy population using a gold standard randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study design. Due to this, the results should be interpreted as strong evidence to support the conclusions drawn from this study. Overall, this adds more evidence to body of literature to support Sunfiber as a truly regulating fiber that helps individuals with hard or loose stools,” Timm said.
Taiyo is highlighting the benefits of Sunfiber and its other ingredients at booth 6761 at the SupplySide West trade show today and tomorrow in Las Vegas, NV.
Effect of Repeated Consumption of Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum on Fecal Characteristics and Gut Microbiota: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, and Parallel-Group Clinical Trial
Authors: Yasukawa Z, et al.