There is a large body of science on the importance of dietary fibre and the gut microbiome to health, and I have been taking SeaFibre for years. Approval to re-publish this blog was sought and kindly given by Dr. Pia Winberg, Chief scientist of PhycoHealth and Venus Shell Systems. The positive effects of the products mentioned below are supported by scientific research. The IAA and its board members have no involvement with or support from PhycoHealth and Venus Shell Systems. For more information see https://www.phycohealth.com and for more information on supplements see arthrofibrosis.info/prescription-free.
Getting adequate dietary fibre will reduce disease
Dietary fibre, primarily through affecting your gut health, will reduce many of our modern world chronic diseases. Sometimes these diseases are expressed as skin disorders, joint issues, diabetes and even cancers. A recent global research review showed that for every 10g increased in dietary fibre intake, there is a significant reduction in your risk of bowel cancer; in some studies up to a 44% reduction. Considering that bowel cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the world, and that 1 in 13 Australians will get bowel cancer in their lifetime, there is good reason to work hard at preventing it. Indeed, increasing dietary fibre is a priority global health goal, but let’s not wait for global initiatives to start us on a journey of better health.
Getting more fibre can be done in two ways.
The average Australian gets less than 50% of the fibre needed each day. The best option is to change your diet is to increase your cooking with plant rich ingredients, including legumes, abundant wholegrains, leafy vegetables, nuts and seaweed. This is the best way forward, but in making this transition or if it is just too difficult in your lifestyle, then you can still make that change tomorrow and use a concentrated form of fibre to boost the food that you love. However, it is important that you include a diversity of fibres, just as if you were eating a number of new types of plant foods.
Many types of fibre is key - SeaFibre feeds mucous loving bacteria
Diversity of fibre is needed because there is a super diversity (hopefully) of bacteria in your gut, and they all eat different things. For example you might have heard of Bifidobacteria, these guys like to eat very complex, sulfated and mucous like fibres that are similar to the mucous in your gut. In our clinical studies  we were able to observe how some of these species increased in the gut of participants using SeaFibre, which is a very similar gel type molecule to that of the mucous membrane molecules of our gut lining. These are high water holding fibres that are gel like in nature, and SeaFibre is one of the biggest water holding molecules around; our research demonstrating that it is able to carry over 2000 x it’s own weight in water. Despite being very soluble, SeaFIbre is resistant to digestion enzymes and therefore reaches the farm end of the bowel.
The best option is to change your diet is to increase your cooking with plant rich ingredients, including legumes, abundant wholegrains, leafy vegetables, nuts and seaweed.
Resistant starch #2 in Green Bananas feed other bacteria
Other, and very different fibres include low water binding molecules such as resistant starches. In contrast to gels, resistant starches (RS) work by being very dense and reach your colon before being digested due to the dense structure. In Australia we only get about half of the resistant starch that we need, and increasing this can also help towards reducing bowel cancer rates, diabetes and other gut related conditions. One of the most exciting resistant starches from Australia is green banana flour, containing 65% resistant starch and which is also high in Potassium to help us balance sodium intake.
The very straight chain amylose rich starch in green bananas is known as a Type 2 resistant starch (RS type 2) and has been shown to protect the gut mucosa, reduce body weight and improve insulin sensitivity, control bowel movements, decrease hunger cravings, improve cholesterol and improve impaired liver and kidney function. RS Type 2 specifically supports bacteria in the colon that undertake a number of processes to digest your amino acids, fatty acids, and importantly nucleotides which support your gut immune function and protect bowel cells.
Resistant starch #3 in wholegrain basmati diversifies your gut metabolism
Another natural resistant starch can be found in brown basmati rice with 20% more fibre and a lower glycemic index than other types of brown rice. This resistant starch can be further enhanced to type 3 resistant starch (RS type 3) by gelatinizing process followed by cooling it to recrystalise into a dense form that lasts all the way to your colon. In your colon RS type 3 can similarly support beneficial bacteria and gut function as for Type 2 in green bananas, but the bacteria and processes are different and therefore complement each other and diversify your gut functions. In contrast to some synthetic resistant starches that do not show the same effect as the natural type 2 and 3 RS.
Other phytonutrients in wholefood sources of fibre are also important
Importantly with whole food and natural fibres, there are other compounds that also benefit the gut. Brown basmati rice for example is rich in antioxidants such as lignans and ferulic acid that research has linked with lower risks of heart disease, inflammation, menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, and breast cancer. Similarly, green bananas are more rich in phenolic compounds than ripe bananas, with evidence for anti-oxidant activity and anti-inflammatory activities. In addition to the gel like seaweed fibres, and we selected our seaweed species and culture methods based on the phenolic content with the best anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
We added Seafibre to green bananas and basmati to make PHYBRE
Because SeaFibre has gained such popularity in our capsules supplement SeaFibre-3, we have been asked to develop a food type scoopable product to add to smoothies, cereals or any type of recipe where some of your existing carbohydrate could be replaced. Phybre delivers SeaFibre in a dietary fibre complex to help us all return to what should be an average of at least 30g of dietary fibre per day. 2 tablespoons of Phybre includes our recommended concentrated dose of SeaFibre, as well as the two types of resistant starch from whole green bananas and recrystallized whole brown basmati rice.
Making sure potassium is adequate is also important for overall health
Not only are we introducing Phybre for gut health benefits, but including Phybre to boost our potassium intake can contribute to eliminating excess sodium in your diet for heart health, and retaining more calcium for bone health. The green banana flour and our seaweed are all good potassium sources.
Take your time when increasing fibre to let your gut flora adjust.
Some people can jump in with a full 20-30 grams of new gut healthy fibres and have no issues. Others need to ramp things up more gradually. Start with a teaspoon of your new fibre source, or even half a teaspoon, and adjust to that before you increase the dose to about 20g per day. Keep adding other plant and seaweeds to your daily cooking as well, and hopefully your daily fibre will reach adequate levels.
Dr. Pia Winberg
CEO, Chief scientist PhycoHealth and Venus Shell Systems
Roach LA, Meyer BJ, Fitton JH, Winberg P. Improved Plasma Lipids, Anti-Inflammatory Activity, and Microbiome Shifts in Overweight Participants: Two Clinical Studies on Oral Supplementation with Algal Sulfated Polysaccharide. Marine Drugs. 2022; 20(8):500. https://doi.org/10.3390/md20080500