Whole grains may lead to a healthier gut, better immune responses
ISLAMABAD: A new study highlights the benefits of eating whole grains over refined grains, after finding that the former may lead to a healthier gut and better immune responses.
Senior study author Simin Nikbin Meydani, Ph.D., of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, MA, and colleagues report their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
There are three components that make up a grain - the bran, germ, and endosperm. A whole grain contains all three components, whereas a refined grain is processed so that the bran and germ are removed.
Whole wheat, oats, rye, barley, brown rice, and quinoa are all examples of whole-grain products, while refined-grain products include wheat flour, white rice, and enriched bread.
Whole grains are considered a key part of a healthful diet. According to the American HeartAssociation, they can help to improve cholesterol levels, as well as reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Previous studies have suggested that whole grains reduce inflammation to produce such benefits. Meydani and colleagues set out to investigate this association further with theirnew study, noting that research compar- ing the effects of whole grains and refined grains on immune responses and inflammation has not controlled the diets of participants. The 8-week study involved 81 healthy adults, all of whom consumed a Western-style diet high in refined grains for the first 2 weeks. For the remaining 6 weeks, 40 of the study participants continued with the Western-style diet that was rich in refined grains, while the remaining 41 participants were placed on a Westernstyle diet that was rich in whole grains.
Importantly, the team notes that the total energy, total fat, and total servings of fruits, vegetables, and proteins were comparable in each diet, meaning that the only difference between the two diets was the type of grains consumed.
All meals were preprepared by trained staff in line with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and they were designed for weight maintenance. The team explains that this was because previous studies had shown that increasing whole grain intake caused subjects to lose weight, which made it hard to determine whether reduced inflammation was a result of whole-grain consumption or weight loss.
Subjects were required to complete a food checklist with each meal, enabling the researchers to determine how much food each participant ate.