Smart bran

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.

Smart bran

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.

Healthy flour

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

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.

100 percent whole wheat

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.

Look for the 100% sign

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.

› Smart bran

Chiropractic help's healthy lunch

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.

Banting diet

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.

Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.