You don’t eat enough whole grains

Posted November 13, 2014

Dr. Glenn Gaesser, professor and director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at Arizona State University, spoke at the National Association of Wheat Growers/U.S. Wheat Associates Fall Board Meeting on October 31, 2014.

How many servings of whole grains do you eat every day? Chances are not enough, and that means you are depriving yourself of reduced risk of type II diabetes and other chronic diseases. Not to mention missing out on better gut health, according to Dr. Glenn Gaesser, a recognized expert on health, fitness and body weight.

How Americans consume their grains.
Gaesser explained that 70 percent of American consumers believe they consume enough whole grains. For wheat, that means flour that includes all of the bran, endosperm and germ. In reality, the 2011 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study of dietary trends indicated that more than 90 percent of adults and children fall short of the three to five recommended daily servings of whole grains.

Why does this matter? Fiber is one answer.

Dietary fiber includes all the parts of a plant that your body cannot digest, meaning it passes relatively intact through your digestive system. This benefits your body by helping maintain digestive health, helping control blood sugar levels and even increased satiety (feeling fuller longer).

Daily dietary fiber.
Additionally, Gaesser explained that that cereal fiber, compared to fruit or legume fiber, has the most noticeable risk reduction for cardiovascular mortality (heart attacks), according to a 2014 study published in BMJ journal. Gaesser pointed out a collection of studies all showing that cereal fiber can also reduce the risk of Type II diabetes.

“The general statement that we need to consume more fiber is not specific enough.” Gaesser said. “It does not take much. Most Americans are at one or less servings a day. If we would increase that to just three servings, it would have a big effect.”

Whole grains are not just good for your heart, Gaesser pointed out, they are crucial for your gut. He explained that whole wheat also provides very good sources of oligofructose and inulin, naturally occurring fructan-type resistant starches that help create a healthy composition of gut bacteria. These substances work as a prebiotic, or a food that promotes the growth of “good” bacteria in your gut. The result is help protecting against some cancers and inflammatory conditions.

Whole wheat supplies 70 to 78 percent of these two substances in the American diet.

Overall, Gaesser concluded, “The cereal fiber from grain foods may be the most effective source of dietary fiber for improving health and reducing risk of chronic disease.”

Need inspiration on how to incorporate more whole wheat into your diet? Check out whole grains recipes from the National Festival of Breads.

By Julia Debes