01.03.2024

The £22 ‘magic poo bread’ that can supposedly cure your IBS… but the experts aren’t convinced by claims peddled by artisan bakers

Priced around £1 per slice, the Happy Tummy Loaf certainly has a lot to prove. But according to its baker, the combination of 15 ingredients and extended baking process can alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In fact, she claims it cured her own.

The loaf, also known as ‘Magic Poo Bread’, is sold for £22 by the Irish Happy Tummy Company, which aims to make ‘bread better than medicine’.

Fans include Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand Goop – which once described it as ‘legendary’ – as well as American actress Goldie Hawn.

However, nutritionists have urged those seeking better digestive health to be wary about the ‘weasel words of marketeers’ that are not based in science.

Happy Tummy Company founder Karen O’Donoghue developed her signature loaf over 18-months after her IBS left her growing up a ‘constipated mess

Happy Tummy Company founder Karen O¿Donoghue developed her signature loaf over 18-months after her IBS left her growing up a 'constipated mess

The Happy Tummy Loaf  is sold for £22 and contains 16 ingredients which include alternative flours, nuts and seeds, as well as apple cider vinegar

The Happy Tummy Loaf is described as a ‘2 Day Soaked Wholegrain Chia Teff Loaf’.

Its ingredients include alternative flours like buckwheat and teff — a type of grass seed — as well as chia seeds, ground linseed, nuts, eggs, lemon juice, cinnamon and apple cider vinegar.

According to the company’s website, the baking process, which takes up to two days, allows ‘the grain varieties, nuts and seeds to soak and sprout before (baking) so that they enter your gut ready to digest and bring you maximum nourishment’.

Per slice, it contains about 10g of fibre — an essential nutrient for healthy digestion — and 11g of protein.

For comparison, a standard supermarket wholemeal loaf contains only about 3g of fibre and 4g of protein per slice.

The NHS recommends adults should have 30g of fibre per day, meaning two slices of The Happy Tummy Loaf accounts for two-thirds of your daily fibre intake.

Happy Tummy Company founder Karen O’Donoghue developed her signature loaf over 18 months after her IBS left her growing up a ‘constipated mess’.

‘I gradually resolved that one day I would feel free of all strains on my body through a food-based solution,’ she says on the company website.

‘And once I’d discovered this solution, I couldn’t wait to get it out to everyone.’

Prospective customers are encouraged to take out a bread subscription ‘to ensure your gut gets into a routine’.

And with an estimated 13million IBS sufferers in the UK, and upwards of 25million in the US, there are plenty of potential buyers.

IBS can cause painful or distressing symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

Scientists are still working to uncover the exact cause of IBS.

There is no cure but the NHS says diet changes can help.

While eating more soluble fibre — which is found in foods including oats, peas and beans — is recommended for IBS sufferers who experience constipation, those struggling with diarrhoea are told to cut back on high-fibre foods.

Happy Tummy Company isn’t the only bakery to claim its bread has substantial health benefits beyond that of the ordinary loaf.

Mim Habits, a Spanish company, has launched a range of £15 loaves in the UK billed as the ‘first bread designed by scientists to help restore your gut health’.

Fans of the bread include Gwyneth Paltrow’s (left) as well as American actress Goldie Hawn (right)

It claims that its sourdough can help improve sleep, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and cut stress through influencing the gut microbiome, the collection of bacteria, viruses and other microbes living in the digestive system.

But nutritionists have warned people to take such claims with a pinch of salt.

Professor Tom Sanders, an expert in nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, told The Times: ‘I have looked at the links to claims made for these breads and they consist of the weasel words of marketeers and are not based on robust science.

‘Nutritionally, there is no difference with ordinary bread except some of these artisan breads do not have useful vitamins added such as folic acid.

‘Consumers should check the nutrition label and not believe the hype.’

In general, he urged people to go for breads high in fibre and low in salt for their health.’

So what’s in the ‘Happy Tummy Loaf’?

According to the Happy Tummy Company its signature 16-ingredient loaf contains:

  • Water
  • Wholegrain teff flour
  • Wholegrain buckwheat flour
  • Ground almonds
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Ground linseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaked brazil nuts
  • Flaked walnuts
  • Regeneratively farmed egg
  • Lemon juice
  • Cinnamon
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Irish orchard syrup
  • Achill sea salt

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