Tailoring your diet to support gut health? One of the easiest adjustments you can make is prioritizing fiber within your daily eating habits. While there are a range of different types of functional fiber (think: soluble, insoluble, etc.), particularly under the umbrella of fermentable fibers, a new study has revealed that a personalized approach to fiber supplementation may behoove you.
According to the National Academies, our daily fiber needs fall between 21 and 38 grams (depending on age and gender), but the sad reality is that only about 5% of the population is estimated to be getting enough fiber in their daily diet. Therefore, adding a supplement can make quite the difference for this national nutrient of concern, especially when it comes to a healthy and happy gut.
In a rigorous clinical trial published in Microbiome, researchers from Duke University assessed the gut microbes and key postbiotic metabolites (especially the short-chain fatty acid butyrate) of healthy adults who consumed three different types of prebiotic fiber supplements (9 grams of inulin, 9 grams of dextrin, or 3.6 grams of galactooligosaccharides) across three, week-long periods.
In this rigorous study design (aka randomized, three-way, cross-over), each participant served as their own “control” group. They incorporated each fiber supplement into their diet, split across two daily doses, for five days. Then they “washed out” (i.e., no fiber supplement) for a week before switching to their next randomly assigned fiber intervention. In that way, every person in the study experienced all three fiber types for a true side-by-side comparison.
The results revealed that in people who entered into the study consuming the least amount of fiber, their gut health displayed the most noticeable benefit from supplementation of this complex carbohydrate. Conversely, those who already consumed ample fiber experienced less significant changes within the gut.
These findings were novel because in those who were initially consuming the least amount of fiber, it didn’t so much matter what kind of fiber was in their supplement—it more so mattered that they were getting more of this functional nutrient.
Essentially, your gut will largely benefit from a fiber supplement if you’re not getting enough to begin with, but how responsive you are is personalized and can be predicted by your diet and the baseline concentrations of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in your stool. These are produced by beneficial bacteria in the gut and have a supportive and protective role for gastrointestinal health and function.
Bottom line? How much fiber you’re currently consuming and the overall quality of your diet or baseline of your health is going to determine how effective taking a fiber supplement will be. That being said, if you’re already consuming a diet filled with recommended levels of fiber daily, keep up the good work (because you’re in the fiber minority!).
How to get more fiber into your diet.
Of course, eating fibrous foods such as beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds is a wonderfully nutrient-dense way to increase your daily intake.
And if you’re looking to mind your fiber gap with intention, a gut-loving and fiber-filled hack to instantly elevate the nutritional value of nearly any meal is found in mbg’s organic veggies+. A great-tasting USDA certified organic greens powder with a range of powerhouse ingredients such as organic leafy greens, berries, herbs, and sea vegetables, this supplement also contains prebiotic fibers (from flaxseed and inulin), making every tablespoon a good source of fiber.
In need of some inspo for how to integrate greens into your routine? Try adding a serving into a berry smoothie, mixing it into your salad dressing, or even hiding it in TikTok’s viral cowboy caviar recipe—the options are really endless.
It’s no secret that fiber is an essential part of any healthy and balanced diet, but as a nation, we have a real opportunity for improvement for this particular nutrient. So whether you’re incorporating more daily fiber from organic veggies+ or any other method of supplementation, your gut will thank you.*
Keeping your gut microbiome happy and supporting healthy digestion, taking a fiber supplement each day will do your body a world of good.*
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.