Are You Really Eating Enough Whole Grains?
A critical part of a gut-healthy diet is eating the right amount of dietary fiber every day.
Depending on which experts you study, the amount of fiber you need to consume in order to make a healthy difference varies between 20-38 grams a day. Those numbers may sound like a lot, until you realize 30 grams of fiber amounts to 1 powerful ounce of protection.
When people go to the grocery store in search of good sources of dietary fiber, they often look for processed foods made from whole grains. You can find them listed on the product labels of many foods, including breads, cereals, brown rice and pastas.
Still, you may not be eating enough whole grains and it may not entirely be your fault, according to a recent study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
What’s A Whole Grain Food?
The heart of the problem are overlapping definitions of what really constitutes a whole grain food based on competing interests, ranging from the FDA and American Heart Association to the American Association of Cereal Chemists and Whole Grains Council.
Using data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003-18, scientists at Tufts University and New York University compared those definitions of whole grain foods to the diets of nearly 40,000 adults.
Overall, patients participating in the survey ate anywhere from 40-62 percent of the suggested healthy daily amount of whole grains, depending on those same inconsistent definitions.
The confusion between healthy and less healthy sources of whole grains becomes easier to understand, when you know that many processed foods labeled as containing wheat, multigrain or whole grains probably don’t contain nearly enough to make a real difference.
In fact, the lead author of the study, Mengxi Du from Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, admitted having problems identifying foods labeled as rich in whole grains in her own trips to the grocery store.
So, what do you do if food labeling is inconsistent and unreliable and even big organizations don’t agree on what whole grain means?
Know What You’re Buying
There are plenty of things you can do to increase your fiber intake with help from whole grains. Looking back on our recent feature on the benefits of dietary fiber, search for whole grain foods like these in their purest, unprocessed form.
- Brown rice
- Whole oats
Be sure to examine all food labels very closely. If the list of ingredients in foods feature whole grain or whole wheat at the top, experts say you’re making a good choice.
Foods containing refined grains may contain essential nutrients, but once they have been milled, they lose iron, many B vitamins and dietary fiber.
While you’re on the lookout for good foods to complement your gut-friendly diet, be sure to give your gut all the help it needs by taking a probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic (that feeds the bacteria in your gut) like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.