It’s a showdown of epic proportions two heavyweight bowel-shifters shaping up for the ultimate contest. In the red corner, rye bread. And in the blue corner, laxatives. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Everyone knows that whole grains are the bowel’s best friend if you’re bunged up. But are they better than commonly used laxatives? For those of us bakery geeks on tenterhooks to know, someone has embraced the unenviable task of finding out.

The Journal of Nutrition reported on a study by the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Helsinki, Finland, investigating the effects of rye bread on bowel function. A fortunate 51 constipated adults’ toilet routines were closely watched for three weeks.

The results are in:

l Rye bread versus white wheat bread

intestinal transit time reduced by 23%

l Rye bread versus laxatives

intestinal transit time reduced by 41%

Verdict: rye bread relieves mild constipation and improves colonic metabolism better than laxatives.

And the good news does not end there. Rye bread also increased weekly defecations by 1.4 times. There were further insights into the softness of faeces and the easing of defecation, but Stop the Week knows when to stop.