Why do the latest health trends always seem to override the actual facts? Grain free or low grain diets like the ketogenic and paleo diets have been floating around for a while now claiming the usual health benefits like weight loss, increased energy and reduced belly fat. Let me tell you as a nutrition scientist dedicated to delivering the latest research (based on actual evidence!) grains are one of THE BEST things you can put in your body to be healthy. There are also lots that aren’t high in FODMAPS.
Firstly when I talk about grains I am referring to WHOLE grains. This is a grain that has not been stripped of all its best bits. As you can see below, the little refined grain on the right has had its most valuable nutrients taken off. This is the type of grain used for white flour, white bread and white rice.
What whole grains should I eat?
- Wheat – Multigrain bread, wholewheat pasta, bran
- Oats – Porridge, muesli
- Rice* – Brown, basmati, arborio, black
- Corn – Fresh corn or popcorn
- Sorghum* – Multigrain products like weetbix
- Rye – Rye bread
- Amaranth – Flour a gluten free substitute, flakes in breakfast cereals or sprouts in salads
- Buckwheat* – Soba noodles, buckinis
- Quinoa* – Fluffy grain, flakes or flour with a nutty flavour
*Low FODMAP whole grains
If you are wondering whether the food you are eating (e.g. muesli bar, pasta, crackers, cereal) is a source of whole grains, you can check if it is registered here on the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council website.
What’s so good about them?
1. Great for weight!
If you’re a morning porridge eater then you will completely understand the amazing powers of rolled oats (a wholegrain) at keeping you satisfied until lunch. This is because whole grains are full of fibre which keeps you fuller for longer and has zero calories as it is the undigestible part of the food. It’s a win win! A recent study by Accredited Practicing Dietitian Monika Lobjeko from the University of Wollongong also found in a group of 377 Australian adults those who ate whole grain foods had lower body weights and smaller waist circumferences, with the opposite being true for those who ate refined grain foods (white bread, cakes, pastries etc.)
2. Those critters living in your gut LOVE them and need them to survive
Fibre is the ONLY food source of those trillion critters living in your gut and if you don’t feed them, they can actually starve and die. The critters need at least 25-30g of fibre per day to be full and happy. Whole grains are one of the highest fibre foods we can get with 1/2 cup of oats, 2 slices of multigrain bread, 1 cup of cooked barley or 1/2 cup of All bran giving the critters between 25 – 50% of their needs.
3. They can help to prevent bowel cancer (Australia’s 2nd most commonly diagnosed cancer)
While whole grains are full of amazing nutrients that do all kinds of wondrous things there is a really special thing that some of them have which can help to prevent colorectal and bowel cancers. It is called resistant starch and is found in oats, cooked and cooled rice and pasta and a few select other foods. Resistant starch is literally resistant to the digestive process until it reaches the little wizards (gut bacteria) down in the large bowel. This is where the magic happens! These wizards put an incredible spell on the starch called fermentation which produces the ultimate power (short chain fatty acids). This power gives energy to the cells in the gut wall and protects it from anything nasty!
If you need more assistance understanding which whole grain foods are suitable in a low FODMAP diet please contact the Dietitians at The FODMAP Challenge.
By: Sarah Gulliver
Image sourced from pinterest.