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The Food Hospital Fibre Challenge

Posted 7 years ago by Brendan

In an earlier post - Does Fibre Cause Bloating, we discussed how and why dietary fiber can be a problem for bloating sufferers. This follow up post comes in response to the Fibre Challenge presented on Channel 4’s new series all about using food as medicine The Food Hospital. In the first of this eight part factual series and in association with Bowel Cancer UK, The Food Hospital launched their Fibre Challenge which aims to investigate the effects of added fibre and fluid on bowel health, while “encouraging people to make simple manageable changes in their diet that could have significant benefits to their bowel and overall health”. 

The Fibre Challenge

In addition to the 50 participants followed in The Fibre Challenge's independent controlled study, who’s experience of an increased fibre diet viewers will be shown throughout the series (perhaps some uncomfortable shorterm bloatingwind or cramps), the public are also invited to get involved in this mass participant initiative. By downloading the Fibre Challenge's free smartphone app, individuals at home can take part in a 21-day regime where you’ll eat extra dietary fibre and record information about you're bowel habits, which you can then either monitor privately or chose to share anonymously with the research team. This data will then be examined according to the same criteria as the control study, before the collective results are shared on the Food Hospital website later this year. It is hoped these results “will help us to better understand whether a high fibre diet significantly improves short-term bowel health and general well-being”. 

One of the fibre resources available on The Fibre Challenge website - 

The Bristol Stool Form Scale 

While there are some people who shouldn’t take part in this increased fibre regime for health reasons (those who are pregnant, have pre-existing digestive conditions such as IBS or are taking laxatives), this app or the website is still definitely worth a look for the information and resources provided. The Bristol Stool Form Scale is perhaps confronting at first but a particularly simple and effective method of describes the different ‘types’ of stool, ranging from constipation (type 1), to normal stools (type 4 or 5) and diarrhoea (type 7). Most of us pay a great deal of attention to what we eat, while actively ignoring what is left over from the digestive process. Having a copy of this scale handy (a printable copy is available on the Fibre Challenge's website) and keeping a record of how your stools change from day to day can really help anyone but especially those with bloating, constipation, IBS, IBD, Coeliac disease or any other digestive complaint, to better understand how dietary, lifestyle or environment factors can influence your digestion and overall health.

The Bristol Stool Form Scale. A printable version available on The Fibre Challenge website -

Get involved 

Check out the Food Hospital website for more information on the Fibre Challenge or you can catch the Food Hospital on Channel 4 at 8pm on Wednesday's. Bloating Tips readers are sure to enjoy this program. Regular bowel habits and healthy stools are positively associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, diverticular disease and haemorrhoids, to name just a few of the many conditions that a plant based high fibre diet helps prevent and manage. So join in and take part in the Fibre Challenge and get to know your poo. Everybody goes to the toilet, so don’t let embarrassment get in the way of good health. If you notice consistent changes in the type of your stool or the appearance of unexplained blood, talk to your doctor or health professional about it.

For more on what else your stool can tell you about your digestive system, check out our next post Bloating and stools

Let us know about your experience if your taking part in the Fibre Challenge or what you think of the Bristol Stool Form Scale. 

About Brendan O'Loughlin

Brendan is a integrative naturopath, nutritionist and yoga teacher. He has completed training in Naturopathy, Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Yoga, Iridology and Live Blood Analysis.

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