Wheat bran has been the biggest diet secret to my IBD success – rewarding me with excellent bowel function since 1981. I learned a lot about wheat bran in 1977 from this book:
I first learned about wheat bran from this simple little book (left). After seeing what wheat bran did for me, I bought 25 copies of the book and gave all 25 copies away. People evidently read the books and passed them around. There I was, a young 20-something, and “old” people were stopping me in church and telling me they “read the book” and were AMAZED at “what it did” for them!
In the 1990s, when I started to realize that conventional wisdom was still tellling people with IBD they must avoid fiber, I started buying up all of the copies of this book that I could find – online, used, for about $5-10.
Hill R. Bran and Other Natural Aids to Intestinal Fitness. Wellingborough, Eng: Thorsons Publishers Limited, 1976.
First, I learned what bran IS
There are three parts of a whole grain
The germ is the part of the whole grain that contains nutrients and the “life” of the grain. if the kernel is planted and given proper conditions, it is the germ that sprouts a new little green plant. The bran is the high fiber covering of the kernel – the fibrous bran protects the life encased in the germ. The starch is the non-nutritive, energy source for the kernel.
In pre-industrialized civilizations, grains were ground between stones to break up the kernels, but the three parts stayed together:
germ + bran + starch = a whole grain
Next, I learned what HAPPENED to bran…
In industrialized civilizations, modern steel milling and filters began to remove the germ and bran. This process results in foods made from only the starch – foods that are fluffy, and light, and delicious – but not healthy. At first, only rich people could afford such refined foods. Eventually, refined foods became the norm for entire populations. The progression from unrefined to refined foods in a group of people is called “Westernization” of the diet. A group of “Western” diseases has accompanied “Westernization” of the diet everywhere the change has occurred. IBD is one of those diseases that “follow” a refined diet.
Wheat bran is a SPECIALIZED bran
Wheat is the grain most frequently eaten in the Western world; thus, wheat bran is the cereal fiber that is missing from our processed grain food products. Think refined bread, sandwich rolls, bagels, pasta, pancakes, biscuits, and wraps. With the bran and germ removed from the kernels of wheat, people in the modern world are eating foods every day, all day, made from only the starch. The fiber contained in the wheat bran is missing from the American diet, and the vitamins and minerals from the germ are missing. This processing is a big reason why the most frequently eaten foods in the Western world are nutrient and fiber-poor.
In the beginning, I used UNPROCESSED wheat bran
In the 1970s, when I first started using wheat bran to build a healthy bowel, it was unprocessed wheat bran that I used. I bought my wheat bran in bulk from a local health-food store. Unprocessed wheat bran is available today in grocery stores or online for about $.21 per ounce.
In recent decades, I have learned that it is easier for me to reach my therapeutic dose of wheat bran by eating a processed bran cereal (see “About Kellogg’s AllBran Bran Buds”). The disadvantage of eating a processed bran cereal is the sugar content. I have found for me, though, is that the load of fiber makes it worth the unwanted sugar included in the cereal.