According to the latest study on nutrition, people who consume diets rich in whole grains have improved gut microbiota compared to those who consume refined grains. Although the improvements seem to be modest, they might play a major role later in life by reducing the risk of life-threatening conditions.
The scientists also focused on the potential benefits of whole grain consumption on energy metabolism. Previous research has revealed that whole grains reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
The researchers have also accounted for the fact that whole grain consumption can reduce the risk of inflammation as well. During the study, the scientists analyzed 81 participants for eight weeks to identify the difference between whole-grain and refined-grain diets.
Also, they evaluated how whole grains influenced the inflammatory and immune responses as well as the stool frequency and potential benefits on gut microbiota. In the first 14 days, all subjects followed the same Western eating style with refined grains.
Then, in the second part of the study, forty participants remained on the same diet, whereas the remaining 41 consumed foods with whole grains. It is worth mentioning that both diets had similar protein servings, vegetables, total fat, total energy, and fruits.
Refined grains lose most of their fibre and some micronutrients, whereas whole grains are rich in fibre. The two diets aimed to help participants maintain their weight, so the study didn’t focus on establishing whether the subjects would lose weight.
The participants were given pre-prepared foods three times per week. Also, they were asked to reheat the meals before consumption. Based on personal checklists completed by all participants after every meal, the study authors could determine how much every subject ate.
In addition, the participants had to report whether they experienced any of the six gastrointestinal symptoms every week, refrain from anti-inflammatory medications (such as antihistamines and aspirin), and maintain a regime of moderate physical activity.
The researchers measured the concentration of short-chain fatty acids and the number of bacteria in the stool. These acids and gut microbiota play a major role in providing healthy inflammatory and immune functions.
The subjects who consumed whole grains had higher levels of Lachnospira, a bacterium which produces fatty acids. Also, they had lower levels of Enterobacteriaceae, which is a pro-inflammatory bacterium.