BACKGROUND: Coarse bran is known to accelerate transit through the whole gut and to increase stool weight. This effect is much reduced by grinding the bran, suggesting that particle size influences gut motor patterns. AIMS: To compare the effect of 15 g coarse bran with 15 g inert plastic particles and 7 g of ispaghula on the gastric emptying and small bowel transit of a rice pudding test meal. SUBJECTS: 13 healthy volunteers. METHODS: Transit of 99mTc labelled rice studied by gamma-scintigraphy measuring gastric emptying and colonic arrival over 10 hours. Small bowel transit was estimated from the difference between time to 50% gastric emptying and 50% colonic arrival. RESULTS: Bran delayed gastric emptying by 22 (SEM 8) minutes compared with control values of 88 (SEM 6) minutes p < 0.05. Ispaghula and plastic particles had no significant effect. Small bowel transit was accelerated compared with control values of 322 (SEM 29) minutes, decreasing by 95 (29) minutes and 62 (22) minutes after bran and plastic particles respectively. Ispaghula again showed no significant effect. CONCLUSION: Coarse bran delays gastric emptying and accelerates small bowel transit. The marked acceleration of small bowel transit also seen with inert plastic particles may be due to increased upper gut secretions after stimulation of enteric nerves.
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