Fibre Supplements

Fibre supplements come in many forms, some are soluble only, isolated and purified. Others are a more akin to vegetable and fruit fibres in the foods we would traditionally eat.

Fibre Supplements are considered to be a subgroup of functional dietary fibre. According to the Institute of Medicine functional fibre’s consists non-digestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects in humans. Consumption of fibre supplements may be for: improving dietary fibre intake, irritable bowel syndromes, lowering blood cholesterol, increasing feelings of satiety & weight management.

The majority of diet recommendations regarding fibre recommend the average adult consumes 25 to 38 grams fibre per day. To reach this amount a variety of plants, vegetables and grains is preferred, nevertheless supplements are available to fill the fibre gap in many of the fibre target gut issues.

This article will provide a comparison of the soluble, insoluble, and intact plant cell wall (whole plant) fibres that are available.

Rationale for Fibre Supplement Use

Best Fibre or Good Marketing

This discussion will begin with the lessor known of the fibre food supplements, called Kfibre – a whole plant complex prebiotic dietary fibre from sugarcane (sugar removed).

“The plant cell wall structure of Kfibre is highly related to other fruit and vegetable cellular material but without the levels of accompanying carbohydrate sugars or lipids that are present in most. Fruits and vegetables typically have 1.0-1.8 % (dry weight/wet weight) of fibre. A 3 – gram dose of Kfibre is therefore about the same fibre content of 166-300 g of fruit or vegetable. For a typical serve of fruit and vegetables being 75-grams, this dose is the fibre equivalent of 2 – 4 serves of fruit and vegetables. Application of Kfibre therefore allows manipulation of levels of cellular fibre in the diet independent of any significant change in energy content.”

This statement alone provides a window into the vegetable value of Kfibre versus an isolated soluble only fibre. Kfibre is a “food” supplement fibre.

Kfibre – Whole Plant / Virgin Sugarcane Fibre

Kfibre is a natural whole-plant prebiotic fibre (sugar reduced) made of both soluble and insoluble fibres that are not isolated or purified. Kfibre possess the biochemical complexity of fruits and vegetable cellular materials that closely reflect the natural whole food products in contrast to fibre fractions of purified ingredients. Kfibre is prepared using technology that focuses on minimal processing and preserving the nutritional components of the source plant material—sugarcane. Kfibre retains both soluble and insoluble fibre fractions that have higher and lower fermentable properties at ratios that more closely represent natural whole plant foods.

The complex biochemical fibre structure in Kfibre supports stimulation of diverse microbiota and consequently enhanced production of major SCFAs – acetate, propionate, and butyrate. Its complex biochemical structure allows it to be fermented more uniformly along the entire colon length allowing to be progressively absorbed, unlike the isolated DF that gets used up in the fore gut/proximal section of the colon. This indicates the stimulation of microorganisms along the entire colon length leading to enhanced production of metabolites benefiting the whole colon.

Kfibre is confirmed to stimulate microbial diversity (in-vitro and in-vivo) and to support the growth of beneficial bacteria including Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia.

Screenshot 1

Insoluble & Soluble Complex Prebiotic Fibre

How does Kfibre Stand out?

  • Rich source of polyphenols and micronutrients like chromium, selenium and silica
  • Natural, complete whole-plant complex dietary fibre
  • Retains biochemical complexity of plant cellular materials that closely reflect those in natural whole fruits and vegetables in contrast to fibre fractions of purified ingredients
  • Fermented more uniformly along the entire colon length allowing to be progressively absorbed thus reducing the gas pressure that usually leads to bloating, abdominal pain, and indigestion.
  • Supports microbial diversity and consequently enhanced production of SCFAs along the entire gut length thus benefiting the whole gut.
  • Minimal “virgin” processing retains both soluble and insoluble fibre fractions that have higher and lower fermentable properties at ratios that more closely represent natural whole plant foods
  • Made from virgin sugarcane fibre
  • Low heat, mechanical & water processing only
  • Supports digestive regularity & maintenance of intestinal health

  • Provides benefits of vital phytonutrients including flavonoids, chromium, tricin and silica

  • Low FODMAP & Gluten Free make Kfibre suitable for IBS & Coeliac users

Inulin – Extract of Chicory Root (FOS/GOS)

Inulin is a soluble only, highly fermentable fibre. Fast-fermenting substrates may not provide as much SCFAs to the distal colon as slow-fermenting substrates. Inulin may be a trigger for FODMAP sensitivities or IBS, and specifically inulin sensitivity has been described.

Inulin does not accelerate gastric transit. In fact, higher doses ≥ 7g delays gastric emptying. This delay in gastric emptying, together with a possible impairment of nutrient absorption in the small intestine may delay intragastric redistribution, which normally occurs as nutrients enter the duodenum.

Short-chain FOS/GOS (FOS – fructo-oligosaccharide / GOS – galacto-oligosaccharide) promotes only selective growth of specific microbiota e.g. Bifidobacteria. This study has shown that GOS/FOS only favours Bifidobacteria and reduce other specific butyrate-producing bacteria.

Fibre fermentation produces gas (majorly carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane) and SCFAs. In fact, Inulin tends to produce more hydrogen and total gas compared to other soluble fibres (wheat dextrin, psyllium and PHGG). Inulin fermentation majorly tends to produce butyrate.

Due to the presence of fructans and other inherent components the gas produced by the fermentation of inulin fibres may cause undesirable cramps, bloating, and flatus . FOS/GOS – weak laxative effect / Inulin – mild laxative effect

Screenshot 3

Soluble Only Fibre

Screenshot 4

Soluble Only Fibre

Psyllium – The husk of Plantago ovata plant seeds

Psyllium is a soluble fibre only. It consists of highly branched and gel-forming arabinoxylan, a polymer rich in arabinose and xylose which has limited digestibility in humans. The gel forming properties can pose an inconvenience for preparation due to the more limited time to consume drinks. Several members of the intestinal microbiota can at least partially utilize these oligosaccharides and their constituent sugars as an energy source as shown in some studies.

In a recent randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blinded study, psyllium supplement had a small, but notable effect on the microbial composition of healthy adults (increasing Veillonella and decreasing Subdoligranulum), in constipated subjects there were greater effects on the microbial composition (increased Lachnospira, Faecalibacterium, Phascolarctobacterium, Veillonella and Sutterella and decreased uncultured Coriobacteria and Christensenella) and alterations in the levels of acetate and propionate. Encouragement in the production of acetate and propionate by Psyllium is also confirmed in-vitro.

Psyllium is capable of retaining water in the small intestine, and thereby, increasing water flow into the proximal/ascending colon. The resulting increase in the fluidity of colonic content may explain the success of psyllium husk in managing constipation. In addition to the relief of symptoms through softening of stool and increasing stool frequency, the increase of free water alters the environmental conditions of the colon.

In addition to managing constipation, the high water‐holding capacity of non-fermented psyllium is effective for attenuating loose/liquid diarrheal stools and reducing faecal incontinence episodes.

Resistant starch – Extract and Multiple Processing Techniques

Resistant starch is soluble only, fermentable dietary fibre that generally favours butyrate production.

Various techniques such as heat, enzymatic, heat with enzyme and chemical treatments are being practiced for production of resistant starch.

The granular type RS2 which are extracted and available in pure form are found to increase butyrate production. Is known to influence the abundance of Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides in in-vitro batch fermentation with human faeces) and in animal models. It is unclear whether we can assume that all types of RS offer the same health benefits. More research is needed in this area.

In a study confirming previous rodent work, resistant starch increased intestinal nutrient flow and caused selective proliferation of Bifidobacterium and Bacillus species in pigs. In rats, RS2 selectively increases propionate concentrations and Ruminococcus bromii abundance, whereas RS4 feeding increases butyrate and propionate concentrations and is associated with proliferation of Lactobacillus gasseri and Parabacteroides distasonis. A human study has recently confirmed that RS4, in the form of butyrylated starch, leads to higher butyrate delivery to the colon than RS2, which, overall, increases both butyrate and propionate concentrations in the colon compared to an equivalent dose of RS2.

In this study resistant starch demonstrated its mild laxative properties, thus only minor effect on bowel habit.

Screenshot 5

Soluble Only Fibre

Screenshot 6

Soluble Only Fibre

Screenshot 6

Soluble Only Fibre

Guar Gum – Extracted Galacto-mannan polysaccharide

Guar gum is a soluble only fibre, food additive. Partially hydrolysed Guar Gum (PHGG) is non-viscous (though original non-hydrolysed version is viscous) and highly fermentable. Guar gum is a galacto-mannan polysaccharide extracted from beans for its thickening and stabilising properties. The guar seeds are mechanically dehusked, hydrated, milled, and screened according to application.

In a recent clinical trial, consumption of PHGG was determined to influence microbial diversity, along with increasing abundances of metabolites including butyrate, acetate and various amino acids. PHGG intake was associated with a bloom in Ruminococcus, Fusicatenibacter, Faecalibacterium and Bacteroides and a reduction in Roseburia, Lachnospiracea and Blautia.

The majority of effects disappeared after stopping the prebiotic and most effects ended to be more pronounced in male participants. The major SCFA produced is butyrate as confirmed by clinical studies .

Effects on stool frequency is inconsistent with one study supporting the PHGG to improve stool form and frequency while others contradict in that PGHH only showed improvement in stool form but no effect on stool frequency . Interestingly the study that reports improvement with PHGG, while there was an increase in stool frequency and consistency (Bristol Stool Score value) in male participants, female participants did not experience such effects upon PHGG supplementation.

At 5g dose in healthy volunteers reported to cause symptoms (bloating, abdominal distension, flatulence) compared to standard meal and psyllium. Symptoms were correlated to gas production .

Wheat Dextrin – Chemically Altered Wheat Starch

Wheat Dextrin is a soluble fibre only.

Higher dosage (60 and 80g/day) is reported to cause flatulence and bloating. Digestive tolerance threshold is 45g/d.

An increase in the abundance of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacilli, Roseburia and Clostridium cluster XIVa upon addition of wheat dextrin has been reported. Induce rapid decrease in pH due to lactic acid SCFA production, leading to possible osmotic effects and laxativity.

At 5% Nitriose, added to control diet of rats stimulated acetate and butyrate production in
caecum , and reported to be a very good substrate for caecal fermentation indicated by increase in caecal weight. Wheat dextrin produces higher propionate than inulin.

Two fibres (soluble/fermented wheat dextrin and finely ground insoluble wheat bran) have actually been shown to decrease stool water content, resulting in a constipating effect.

  • Not suitable for Coeliac or wheat allergy

Screenshot 8

Soluble Only Fibre

Screenshot 7

Soluble Only Fibre

Wheat Bran – Outer Shell of Wheat Grain

Wheat bran, however, has the disadvantage of containing 3% phytate* which has been considered as an anti-nutrient in humans because of its negative effect on the bioavailability of iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium. An average 2–3 tablespoon serving of commercial wheat bran is estimated to contain 200–300 mg of phytic acid.

When it comes to IBS, wheat bran may not be universally beneficial in this condition possibly because it is thought that a significant number of IBS patients are wheat intolerant without having the diagnostic features of coeliac disease.

Wheat barn can elicit a good laxative effect however it can increase gas production, feelings of abdominal distension and incomplete emptying of the rectum

  • Not suitable for Coeliac or wheat allergy

Screenshot 7

Soluble Only Fibre

Methyl Cellulose – Semi Synthetic Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose

Methyl Cellulose is a non/poorly fermentable dietary fibre.

Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, semisynthetic cellulose derivative with hydroxypropyl and methyl side chains was shown to influence microbiota in rats. The data however needs further confirmation in humans.

Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose is not absorbed by the host, however, it can modulate the intestinal nutrient environment by selectively increasing the excretion of faecal bile acids and fats and increasing faecal water content, and thus could have downstream effects on the intestinal microbiota.

Screenshot 9

Soluble Only Fibre

Summary Table

Fibre typeGut transit
LaxationEffect on MicrobiotaSCFAGas ProductionNegative
Kfibre – Virgin Sugarcane FibreIncreases
Good laxative effectTrue insoluble fibre
Promotes non-selective
microbial growth & diversity
Uniform rate
of fermentation along the
entire colon Broad SCFA
type production
FOS/GOS/ (Soluble/highly
fermentable short-chain oligosaccharide)Inulin (Soluble/highly
fermentable long-chain
Does not
speed up transit time/delays
gastric emptyingMay delay
emptying at
higher doses
Weak laxative
effectMild laxative
Promote selective growth of
specific microbiota e.g. Bifidobacteria.
May reduce other specific
butyrate- producing bacteriaIncreases overall
bacterial diversity but
could be selective for
Rapidly fermented in
terminal ileum and
proximal colon
to produce SCFAs,
major SCFA is butyrate.Rapidly fermented in
proximal colon to
produce SCFAs.,
majorly butyrate


Rapid fermentation
may contribute to gas, flatulence
and GI symptoms.Rapid fermentation
may contribute to
gas, flatulence
and GI symptoms
RS, Pectin, Guar Gum
(soluble highly fermentable)
Does not speed up
transit time. Can slow absorption from small
Mild laxative
Increases overall
bacterial diversity but
could be selective for
bifidobacteria.RS promotes
Rapidly fermented
in proximal colon to produce SCFAs.
RS majorly
produces butyrate.
High to
Rapid fermentation
may contribute to
gas, flatulence
and GI symptoms
Psyllium (intermediate
soluble fermentable)
Does speed-up
transit time
Good laxative
Increases overall
bacterial diversity but
little evidence for selective growth
Moderately fermented to produce SCFAs along
the length of the colon.
to high
Side-effects of gas,
flatulence, abdominal
distention and bloating reported for healthy
Wheat bran (insoluble slowly fermentable)Does speed-up
transit time
Good laxative effectIncreases overall
bacterial diversity but
little evidence for
selective growth
Slowly fermented to
produce SCFA
along the length of
the colon
to high
excessive gas / wind
and bloating.
May not suit IBS
Cellulose, methylcellulose
(insoluble, non fermentable)
Does speed-up
transit time
Good laxative
No evidence for direct
selective growth
LowLess gas / wind forming properties


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