One of the latest entrants to the family of foods we consume on a regular basis is Bran.
What is bran? And why is it called the latest entrant to the family of foods we intake?
Bran is nothing but the indigestible outer husk of a number of cereal grains such as wheat, oats, rice and such other cereal grains. It is nothing but the waste released after the grains are milled at the miller’s outlet.
Unaware of the immense benefits one can derive from consuming bran, people totally ignored this bran as part of the daily intake of foods. It is only in the early 1970s that the importance and the beneficial aspects of bran as a food got recognition and since then bran is being consumed as a staple food for the mankind.
A British Medical Officer who settled in Africa, Dr. Dennis P. Burkitt, published number of research reports and papers in which he outlined the various advantages of bran and such other type of fiber and their role in preventing diseases such as heart attacks, diverticulitis and other disorders in the intestine. He carried out extensive research in the rural areas of Africa related to bran and its utility as a staple fiber was well recognized. The books published by him turned out to be best-selling ones in that period across the region. Thus, bran became a part of the food in the early 1970s.
Bran is the best source for dietary fibers. A number of benefits can be derived from the consumption of bran. It allows to prevent constipation in the bowels. Bran is of many varieties such as wheat bran, rice bran, oat bran etc. Consumption of oat bran and rice bran helps in lowering high blood cholesteroal levels among chronic patients suffering from this disease.
The dietary fiber of bran, due to its indigestible nature, provides a sense or feeling of fullness wihout over-eating in the stomach, thus leading to loss of weight.
Dr. Burkitt has argued that consumption of bran regularly helped prevent colon cancer. According to him, the amount of time required for the stool to travel through the bowel. However, the research carried out to prove the theory got mixed results and as such the claim that bran reduces or prevents the risk of colon cancer is yet to be established in the medical world.
The consumption of bran as a staple dietary fiber has yielded many positive results, especially in controlling weight and also for patients suffering from diabetes.. Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which is sticky and combines with water to form a thick gel. Diabetic patients are advised to take more quantity of oat bran as it appears that oat bran helps to improve glucose metablism and in turn, reduces the need for insulin among the diabetic patients.
However, there are a few minor drawbacks related to consumption of bran. It has been discovered that excessive consumption of bran might lead to lesser absorbtion of minerals such as zinc, iron and calcium in the body. Also, in some cases, excessive intake of bran might lead to intestinal irritation, gas and bloating.