We all know that eating fibre helps to keep bowel habits regular, so it comes as a surprise to learn that up to 27 percent of the population of Western countries regularly experience constipation.
Apart from being uncomfortable, chronic constipation predisposes you to colon cancer, possibly because, if the stools remain in the intestine for a relatively long period, the bowel is exposed to potentially cancer-causing chemicals for longer. Laxatives aren't necessarily the answer: they can cause the bowel to become lazy, and overuse can actually impair bowel activity.
According to a study from the University of Helsinki, published in the Journal of Nutrition, eating a slice of rye bread each day could be the simplest and most natural answer. The researchers found that people who did so experienced a 41 percent increase in intestinal transit time, compared with people using laxatives. The same effect was not noted with people eating white bread.
As a bonus, eating the rye bread was shown to make the pH in the colon slightly acidic: this is important because most harmful bacterial enzymes operate at a neutral to slightly alkaline pH.
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