What is the first thing that you need to include in your high fiber diet plan? Well, it may not surprise you to know that the best thing you can do to speed up your intestinal transit is to include foods rich in fiber, and particularly effective in relieving constipation are cereal bran such as oat, rice or wheat.
Bran is the outer layer of the kernel which is often discarded when processing the grains. It has no nutrients as such but is primarily fiber.
It's true that strictly speaking fiber is not a food, because it doesn't get broken down by the digestive juices and is not absorbed through the digestive system, but it's absolutely essential to health.
Why is that? Simply put, nothing matches bran's stool-bulking capabilities.
When fiber absorbs water, stools gradually swell, getting bigger and wetter, and this is good because larger stools are moved out of the intestine much more quickly than smaller and drier ones and with less straining.
A little daily bran could restore normal bowel movements in 60% of those who suffer from common constipation, says British authority Nicholas W. Read, M.D., director of the Centre for Human Nutrition at the University of Sheffield.
There's no doubt that much constipation comes from a deficiency in high fiber foods.
Dr. Denis Burkitt notes that our ancestors ate about a pound and a quarter (about 600 g.) of whole grain, high fiber bread a day. We only eat 1/5 of that - a mere quarter of a pound (about 120 g.) and most of it made from highly refined white flour that has had all its fiber removed.
Natural laxatives like bran bulk-up the stool instead of simply stimulating the bowel nerves as many over-the-counter drugs do, hence are much safer and gentler and can be easily included in the High Fiber Diet Plan.
"Bran is the safest, cheapest and most physiological method of treating and preventing constipation" agrees Dr. Grant Thompson, M.D., gastroenterologist at the University of Ottawa, and author of the book Gut Reaction.
On average we only get about 11 grams of fiber a day, a lot less than the Daily Value (DV) of 25 grams and even that seems quite conservative to many researchers.
So what can we do?
For a start you can try to include
wheat-bran cereals in your High Fiber Diet Plan, beginning
with 1/3 to 1/2 cup a day, adding more as needed, say authorities - Read more about Whole Grain Cereals
Classic British studies indicate that eating about 1 1/2 oz. (about 42 g.) of miller's bran a day doubles the weight of the stool.
What makes this bran so powerful is its raw, coarsely ground particles.
Cereals like All-Bran have been processed, which slightly lessens their lassative powers, meaning that you have to eat somewhat more to have an effect.
"If the bran is not chewy, it probably won't work" says Dr. Read.
Research shows that bran's rough-edged particles mechanically stimulate the nerves of the bowel lining, promoting colonic movement.
The bowel's nerve endings are so exquisitely sensitive that merely touching them with a soft brush induces muscular contractions and secretion, according to Dr. Read.
So, coarse, raw bran flakes have double-laxative activity - by increasing stool bulk and stimulating the colon wall.
To buy organic wheat bran on line go to Goodness Direct.
Read about the Best Fiber Supplement
Not everyone likes wheat bran or, indeed can tolerate it, so is there an alternative for your High Fiber Diet Plan?
Indeed there is. Dr. Read found rice bran surprisingly superior even to wheat bran as a laxative.
He had eight healthy young men eat either 15 g. of fiber in wheat bran or powdered rice bran or no supplement for ten-days periods.
Both brans boosted stool frequency and output of feces, but rice bran was clearly superior.
Rice-bran eaters had about 25% more bowel movements. All had greater stool output. Both wheat and rice bran reduced intestinal transit time equally well. Neither produced any change in intestinal gas, stool consistency or ease of defecation.
Dr. Read speculates that the high starch in rice bran may spur colon bacteria to greater activity, increasing stool bulk.
He also says that oat bran has some laxative properties.
To buy either rice bran or oat bran, or both, on line go to Goodness Direct.
First start with a heaped tablespoon of miller's bran a day. You can sprinkle it on cereals or other foods at each meal.
However, there's no single right "dose" of bran for everyone.
Most people need a tablespoon a day to pass soft stool without straining, but others need less and some need several tablespoons.
To find out what is the right amount for your particular case, test it on yourself, wait to see what happens and then raise or lower the dose as needed.
The insoluble fiber mainly found in whole wheat is not the only choice for beating constipation.
All fruits, vegetables, legumes, along with whole-grain foods contain healthful amounts of fiber.
So include a variety of high-fiber grains, fruits and vegetables in your High Fiber Diet Plan.
Also soluble fiber (the kind found primarily in legumes, oats and many fruits) can help the intestine working smoothly.
Fiber is particularly dense in the skin, stems and leaves of fruit and plant, so don't peel that apple or toss those broccoli stalks. Rather buy organic and just wash and eat your fruit without peeling and try to use as much of the vegetables you buy as possible.
Read about other foods that relieve constipation by hitting the NEXT button
The 6 Most Common Symptoms of Constipation - Also explaining what bowel transit time is and how to test it
How to Select the Best Foods That Relieve Constipation - Discussing the importance of fiber and water in the diet
The Best High Fiber Diet Plan That Can Help You Relieve Constipation - Explaining how fiber works to keep you regular
5 Best Foods for Constipation That Work (Part 1) - Discussing apples, beans, berries, flaxseed and dried fruits
The 6 Best Foods for Constipation That You Need to Know About (Part 2) - Discussing dark leafy greens, ginger, honey, rhubarb, squash and coffee
Benefits of Fiber and High Fiber Foods in Your Diet - Increasing fiber in your diet can help preventing and treating many conditions
Best Fiber Supplement - Why is Lepicol the best fiber supplement?
1) Carper, J., (1993) Food Your Miracle Medicine: How Food Can Prevent and Treat Over 100 Symptoms and Problems, New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
2) Duke, J.A., Ph.D.,(2008) The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods: Proven Natural Remedies to Treat and Prevent More Than 80 Common Health Concerns, New York; Rodale
3) Yeager, S., (2207) The Doctors Book of Food Remedies, New York: Rodale Inc.
5 Best Foods for Constipation That Work (Part 1) Discussing apples, beans, berries, flaxseed and dried fruit
The 6 Best Foods for Constipation That You Need to Know About (Part 2) Discussing dark leafy greens, ginger, honey, rhubarb, squash and coffee.