Need Relief From Constipation? Try
Consumption of fibre-rich rye bread may ease constipation and perform
commercial laxatives, according to a new study from Finland.
Writing in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers from the University
of Helsinki report that whole-grain rye bread performed better
than laxatives and white wheat bread in the easing of symptoms
of constipation, a condition reported to affects up to 27 per
cent of the population of Western countries, according to the
To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to
evaluate the effects of rye bread in treating constipation as
compared with laxatives and to simultaneously investigate the
changes in the colonic metabolism, wrote the researchers,
led by Reetta Holma.
The results are encouraging, they added.
The beneficial effects of rye were put down to its fibre content,
which could fermented by bacteria in the colon, and lead to an
increase in colonic short chain fatty acids (SCFA).
Arabinoxylan, which is abundant in rye, appears to be a
preferred substrate for fermentative generation of SCFA,
noted the researchers. SCFA may induce propulsive contractions,
leading to accelerated transit and relief of constipation.
The decrease in fecal pH caused by rye bread consumption,
which was found in the present study, is a natural consequence
of increased fecal SCFA and also decreased intestinal transit
time. The importance of maintaining a slightly acidic environment
is critical, because the majority of harmful bacterial enzymes
operate optimally at a neutral to slightly basic pH, they
The Finnish researchers recruited 51 constipated adults and randomly
assigned them to one fo five groups: One group received the whole-grain
rye bread (240 grams per day), one group received buttermilk containing
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), one group received both rye
bread and LGG, the fourth group received white wheat bread, and
the final group received laxatives.
At the end of the study an increase in intestinal transit time
of 23 and 41 per cent was reported for the rye bread group, compared
with white wheat bread and laxatives, respectively, and the average
number of weekly defactions increased by 1.4.
On the other hand, LGG supplementation did not affect constipation,
In conclusion, rye bread relieves mild constipation and
improves colonic metabolism compared with white wheat bread and
commonly used laxatives without increasing gastrointestinal adverse
effects, wrote Holma and her colleagues.
Source: Journal of Nutrition
Reference Sources 184
February 15, 2010