Approximately one-third of individuals in the United States experience unsatisfactory bowel habits, and dietary intake, especially one low in fiber, could be partly responsible. We hypothesized that intake of a fermentable fiber (starch-entrapped microspheres, SM) that has a delayed, slow fermentation profile in vitro would improve bowel habit while exhibiting prebiotic capacity in those with self-described unsatisfactory bowel habits, all with minimal adverse effects. A total of 43 healthy volunteers completed a 3-month, double-blind, parallel-arm randomized clinical trial to assess the ability of a daily dose (9 or 12 g) of SM vs psyllium (12 g) to improve bowel habit, including stool consistency and frequency, and modify gut milieu through changes in stool microbiota and short-chain fatty acids while remaining tolerable through minimal gastrointestinal symptoms. All outcomes were compared before and after fiber treatment. Stool frequency significantly improved (P=.0003) in all groups after 3 months, but stool consistency improved only in both SM groups compared with psyllium. In addition, all groups self-reported a similar improvement in overall bowel habit with fiber intake. Both SM and psyllium resulted in minimal changes in microbiota composition and short-chain fatty acid concentrations. The present study suggests that supplementation with a delayed and slow-fermenting fiber in vitro may improve bowel habit in those with constipation, but further investigation is warranted to determine capacity to alter microbiota and fermentation profiles in humans. This trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov as NCT01210625.
Keywords: Clinical trial; Constipation; Dietary fiber; Microbiota; Prebiotics.
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