Smart bran asks what the research says about this byproduct of refining wheat.
Okay, I'll admit it up front that this page is about the best way to get extra fibre into your diet and has nothing to do with this brand name.
Fibre comes in two forms in the diet; one is like bran but the other is soluble, for example, the pectin in an apple; it absorbes water and swells in the gut. Both are necessary for a healthy colon.
In addition they affect how the substances in food are absorbed; for example, if you have adequate fibre in your diet, blood cholesterol will be far less of a problem. You can have your butter and eat it.
Probably the most important effect of fibre is to give the stool easy passage through the intestine; it makes for soft faeces and stops constipation dead in its tracks. That's why it prevents diverticulosis, haemorrhoids and colorectal cancer; all of them are nasties to be avoided at all costs.
Less than five percent of Americans consume the recommended amount of whole grains which is why there's an epidemic of these horrific bowel diseases.
Herein lies the catch laid bare by the researchers who have published in the Journal of the American Medical Association; all is not as it seems. So called whole grain pasta may not be what you think it is.
Millers are allowed to describe their flour as whole, even though they have removed up to 40 percent of the goodies; the germ where the minerals and vitamins are found and the bran. It's definitely not the healthy stuff that we are talking about.
How this anachronism ever arose is a mystery, but certainly it enables food manufacturers to mislead us into believing that their product is the healthy stuff. Of course, we the public are at least partly to blame; our palates have become accustomed to soft and easy to swallow dough, and often we abhor 100 percent whole grains. Pass me a white roll please.
Millers are simply providing us with what we want; still, to mislead and deceive us into believing their 'whole grain' in fact contains 100% of the wheat is disingenuous beyond belief.
Our dietary deficiency of fibre has come about in part because the USDA requirements are that in describing whole wheat "in essence, at least 50 percent of the grain must be whole grain." It matters not apparently that the other half of your "whole grain" can be highly refined. You can read about it by googling the whole grains council website.
Smart bran is the brand name for a cereal that is made from wheat and oat bran, and psyllium; 20 percent of the product is added sugar to make it palatable. They describe that as a light touch, but it's misleading.
One helping also contains 5 percent of the recommended dietary allocation of salt; that's not high in itself, but considering that we mostly consume far too much, it's one more nail in the coffin.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the ingredients in smart bran, other than the sugar and salt, but they should be consumed as part of the 100 percent whole grain, researchers at JAMA recommend, rather than as added cereal.
Smart bran added to a diet of refined grains has much less of an effect; rather enjoy 100 percent whole wheat bread; if you can find it. Just one slice contains 5 to 7g of fibre, about one fifth of a woman's total daily requirement. Men require nearly twice that.
Dr Alice Lichtenstein recommends in the JAMA research that we don't judge a grain or cereal by its colour. Food companies like to deceive us by adding caramel or other chemicals to darken it; rather read the label searching for the term 100 percent whole wheat, or oats.
The fibre in our diet is not only obtained from grains, but also from fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The average American diet contains about 15 grams per day which is totally inadequate.
The researchers in the JAMA study have been following two groups of people, totaling over 100,000 for over 25 years. Adding just one ounce, 28 grams of whole grain to the diet has decreased the overall mortality by 5 percent and from heart disease by nearly double that.
Better still, if you substitute a 100 percent whole wheat slice for white bread, then that five percent drop in overall mortality jumps to eight.
Substituting one serving of whole grain for one serving of red meat and you'll have a massive 20 percent drop in cardiovascular mortality; that's apart from the reduction in bowel diseases like colorectal cancer and diverticulitis.
Returning to our fibre story, Dr Lichtenstein points out that simply adding smart bran, for example, to a diet which is high in refined grains like white bread and pasta yields no benefit.
Sadly, you can't have your cake and eat it; adding smart bran yields no benefit.
She recommends we look out for 100 percent whole grains, and perhaps add more smart bran to that.
If you bake your own bread, finding 100 percent wholewheat flour is difficult. Purchasing a loaf like this from your supermarket is virtually impossible in many countries.
The best way to resolve this problem is to purchase your own wheat grinder and make your own healthy flour.
If you are going to purchase a bread machine, then I recommend you go the whole hog and get a wheat grinder too; otherwise you're likely to join the great mass of people who never use it.
What may come as a surprise it that takes only five minutes to grind your own healthy flour and prepare the dough such as for our panera bread menu recipe; then of course it must bake for a minimum of five hours to rise, prove and bake.
The bran in your 100 percent whole wheat contains the lignans which are block the hormone receptors in the breast, protecting it against high levels of circulating oestrogen.
Researchers found that oats and corn bran did not give the protection against breast and bowel cancer that wheat gives.
In short, get your smart bran by grinding your own healthy flour; it will mean finding a source of wheat. If you bake three or four times a week, you'll need two large bags per year; in South Africa they come in 50kg.
JAMA also reports by the way that consuming 100 percent whole grains is also associated with a lowered risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
"We observed a significant inverse association between total dietary fiber intake and risk of diabetes; of the different sources of fiber, cereal fiber was most strongly associated with decreased risk."
Added seeds, provided they are first ground provide substantial smart bran to your daily slice of 100 percent whole wheat bread. Many whole seeds like flax and sesame pass through the gut undigested, the fibre useless, and in fact may get stuck in diverticuli.
The solution is a small inexpensive coffee grinder like this. I prepare enough for a week and keep it in the fridge.
This vegan seed bread is very simple to prepare. The nutty flavour of sunflower and even almonds makes it a delight from our healthy living tips page.
Most margarines have toxic trans fats by the way; researchers combining 80 of the best research projects on cholesterol find absolutely zero scientific proof that there is any benefit moving away from butter on heart disease.
In short, butter is back, thank goodness, many of us sigh; margarine is so awful.
Getting your smart bran from 100 percent whole wheat does create other logistical difficulties. Some would say we are bordering on fanaticism; perhaps so, but having witnessed the miserable death from colorectal cancer of a chiropractic colleague in our practice who ate only white bread and processed meat for lunch, I've become obsessed with not going down that road.
Weevils will attack that 100 percent whole wheat; they relish the germ where all the vitamins and minerals are stored. The only sensible solution is to keep a freezer dedicated to your natural whole grains. Because it is only occasionally opened, we power it only during the day when the sun is providing free energy. Refrigeration using solar power isn't rocket science.
Alternatively it must be poisoned with phostoxin, or some similar toxic substance, or your supplier must freeze it; even in the fridge it seems to be fine.
You're not likely to find this in any supermarket; you'll have to hunt for it, or bake it yourself. Be prepared to pay more, because it's worth far more.
On the other hand, because it's only ground and not processed, it's far less work for the miller; but he can't sell the best part, the germ, to vitamin companies and pig farmers.
You're not likely to have visited Ludlow in England, but at this little bakery, some seventy years old I believe, still run by the same family, I found the most delicious 100% wholemeal bread.
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This healthy lunch, full of both soluble fibre from the greens and insoluble from your 100 percent whole wheat bread will supply virtually your total needs for the day. Why add extra smart bran?
Making your own pesto incidentally is a dream; add avocado, orange peppers, half an egg and you have the perfect meal.
Should you slip a disc, constipation is a huge problem; bearing down on the toilet becomes very painful and aggravates the condition. Chiropractic help recommends a diet high in fibre not just to ease your colon but to improve your overall health.
The Banting diet, also known as that of paleo, requires a near zero carbohydrate diet; that means no grains and of course no smart bran either.
It's purely anecdotal, of course, but a good friend, after just a few months on the Banting diet, developed acute abdominal pain, and had his appendix excised.
It remains to be seen whether the Banting diet, restricting all grains including the bran, increases the incidence of colon disease.
Lignans are oestrogen like compounds found in many foods but particularly in bran and seeds; they have many beneficial effects, one of which is to block the cancerous effect of hormones on the breast.
By limiting the lignans in 100 percent whole wheat from the diet, whether by diets prohibiting all carbohydrates, or lax laws that allow food companies to mislead the public into believing that are eating truly whole grains, we are de facto promoting breast and colorectal cancer.
Is it any wonder that the United States has the highest rate of breast CA in the world?
Whole wheat should mean just that; 100% whole wheat.
One half is our 100 percent whole wheat flour, with all the smart bran, lignans, vitamins and minerals.
The other half is described by the miller as "stoneground wholemeal flour".
The deception is obvious; there's no cigar for guessing which is the real McCoy. One prevents large bowel disease and breast cancer; the other just makes you fat.
Why all this about smart bran on a chiropractic website? Simply because we were born out of naturopathy, and are into better health, and that's far more than fixing subluxations.
Just recently I've been in Holland, and it was with mixed feelings that I was greeted by a patient of old whom I'd sent to her doctor; he had pooh-poohed that there was anything wrong with her bowel, denigrating me as not a real doctor. It's a story that ends well; three years later finally he conceded to a referral to a specialist who confirmed colorectal cancer; now she has a stoma.
Think rather of smart bran and more fibre in general in your diet. Remember, less that 5% of Americans enjoy the required amount of whole grain in their diets.
Plus, 100% whole grain is not fattening like your delicious white scones.