Fibre and Gastrointestinal Function

The eighties was the decade of dietary fibre, a metaphor that seemed to express society’s need for more moral fibre after the liberal seventies. But was the science there to support it? With tongues firmly lodged in our cheeks we investigated the mode of action of various types of fibre on gut function, even showing that small pieces of plastic were just as good as coarse wheat bran in accelerating transit and softening the stool. We were perhaps the first voice of criticism to arrest the progress of The Bran Wagon.

  1. Cann, P.A., Read, N.W., Holdsworth, C.D. (1984). What is the benefit of coarse wheat bran in patients with the irritable bowel syndrome. Gut 25: 168-173.
  2. Read, N.W. (1987) The Bran Wagon. Lancet i: April.
  3. Edwards, C.A., Johnson, I.T. and Read, N.W. (1988) Do viscous polysaccharides slow absorption by inhibiting diffusion or convection? Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 42: 307-312.
  4. Tomlin, J. and Read, N.W. (1988). Laxative properties of indigestible plastic particles. Brit. Med. Journal 297: 1175-1176.
  5. Read, N.W. (1988). The power of plastic bran. The Independent. Tuesday, 8th November, 1988.
  6. Read, N.W. (1990). Pharmaceutical Aspects of Dietary Fibre. Dietary Fibre: Chemical and Biological Aspects. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry 83: 340-349.