What is bran?
Bran is the outer shell of cereal grain, or seed, which is usually ground off in the milling process to produce flour. It is formed from vegetable fibers and indigestible substances which nature originally used for protection of the seed. When flour is refined, this valuable substance is mostly discarded, to be used for animal feeds. The most commonly available bran is wheat bran, but bran from corn, oats, or other cereals is often found in specialty stores.
What does bran do?
Most foods we eat are digested and dissolved into simple chemicals and absorbed by the body, leaving very little residue. The human intestine cannot digest the food fiber in bran. It remains in the bowel, both absorbing and holding water with it. It also absorbs many strong chemicals that result from bacterial action, protecting the bowel lining. The result is larger, softer, more frequent, and less irritating bowel movements. If diarrhea is a problem, fiber may help by absorbing water and irritants.
How does bran relieve bowel troubles?
Most of the illnesses that affect the lower bowel are related to simple mechanical difficulties with having bowel movements. Stools which are hard require us to strain and cause excessive stretching of the rectum, as well as irritation of the lining membrane. The result of this may be bursting of blood vessels (hemorrhoids) or the tearing of the lining (anal fissure). Irritation may cause inflammation or infection (anal fistula). Further up the bowel, dry and hard stools may cause bulges to develop in the muscular wall (diverticulosis). Chemical irritation may be a factor in development of polyps and colon cancer. Bran softens the stool and absorbs irritating chemicals.
Where do I get it?
Most supermarkets have unprocessed bran or Miller’s bran in the cereal section. Any health food store will have a variety of bran, and the cost is often less than in the grocery store, usually from $.35 to $1.00 a pound, which last quite a while.
How much bran should I eat?
You should add fiber to your diet by eating 6 to 8 tablespoons (about ½ cup) of bran each day. In addition, try to consume leafy vegetables, and fruits, which also contain fiber, and drink at least 2 quarts of water per day. Bran cereals and breads made with bran may be helpful also, but often contain relatively little bran.
Bran doesn’t taste very good by itself -it’s a bit like sawdust- but when mixed with foods, it can enhance flavor and texture. Try mixing two tablespoons per portion with cooked or dry cereals, soups, gravies, and dressings. Add it to mashed potatoes, rice, casseroles, spaghetti sauce, and tuna and egg salads. Bran is not a medicine; it’s a food. It’s o.k. for everyone in the family to eat, and beneficial to everyone- it may even reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
Use it for the rest of your life!
All Bran with Extra Fiber – large bowl
Fiber One – large bowl
Metamucil – 1 tablespoon three times a day
Fiber Con pills – 2 pills four times a day
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