Medical Q&As

Bran - harmful to bowel?

I eat a bowl of bran cereal every morning to increase my fibre intake. However I have read recently that bran can actually be bad for the bowel. Is this true? Should I change the type of breakfast cereal I am eating?

I am not aware of the article you are referring to but I would be very sceptical about an article that suggested that bran could be bad for the bowel. Bran cereal is an excellent way of introducing additional amounts of fibre into the diet and this is highly desirable since most Irish people do not eat enough fibre rich food. Many intestinal disorders are attributed to lack of fibre in the diet so a high fibre diet is an important measure in the prevention of many diseases of the intestine. More recently it has been suggested that bran may have additional health benefits especially in relation to cholesterol reduction. A number of years ago the F.D.A. (Food and Drugs Administration) in the U.S.A. conducted an evaluation of the evidence regarding the health benefits of oat bran. The agency concluded that eating oat bran could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease when part of an overall diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Further studies have indicated that cholesterol-lowering effects also occur with wheat and rice bran. Therefore I would advice that you continue with your current breakfast cereal because bran can make a contribution to the prevention of diseases of the intestine and cardiovascular system.