• Yasmin Norazharuddin

Fibre and IBS: how to find the balance you need

Fibre has been one of the many foods IBS sufferers are worried about. There is a lot of information seen or heard about avoiding certain fibre-rich foods due to the effect that they may have on the gut. But, not all fibres work the same and they can benefit you in the worst times too!

The 2 most common dietary fibres are insoluble and soluble fibre.

Insoluble fibre - one that does not attract water and adds bulk to your stool.

Soluble fibre - one that absorbs water and forms into mush (imagine oatmeal)

And the one fibre group that is not always in the spotlight is fermentable fibre. Yep, you guessed it by the name. This type of fibre is not digested by the gastrointestinal tract, passes through the intestine and settles at the large intestine where it will be eaten by our gut bacteria. This will then result in a release of gas as a by-product. Both insoluble and soluble fibres can be fermentable fibres.

So how can we benefit from these fibres and not have our gut bothered by them?

  1. Both soluble and insoluble fibre is a good source of fibre to help with easing the symptom of IBS-C. Increase your fibre intake of the day or try combining foods that are rich in both sources like adding blueberries to your morning oats or switch your normal pasta noodles with legume-based noodles

  2. Soluble fibre will be a good food option for IBS-D. Avoid eating foods high insoluble fibre during IBS flare-up with diarrhoea. For example, add chia seeds and linseeds to your morning smoothies or have a serving of dairy-free mashed sweet potatoes

  3. What about fermentable fibres? Foods high in fermentable fibres can actually benefit IBS guts as fermentable fibres are also good sources of prebiotics. Prebiotics are good for IBS because they help improve the gut bacteria which was found lacking in the gut of IBS individuals. To lower the chances of gas, bloating and abdominal pain, eat in small amounts and cooking them thoroughly will help. For example, add 1 tablespoon of cooked white beans into soups or serve ¼ cup of baked artichokes with fish and white rice.

A healthy gut diet should consist of fibre in all forms.

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