Whole Grains Versus Fruits & Vegetables: How Each of these Foods Affect Inflammation & Gastrointestinal Health
“Let food be thy medicine” these are golden words which reward you in the best of ways possible. Crops and harvests are covered by pesticides and produce quality is diminishing every day. Even if we consume the same portion of fruits and vegetables like our ancestors we are not assured of a healthier body and a stronger mind. Real agony is that we have all have forgotten to eat more of produce and have shown a greater inclination towards eating processed foods thereby stooping to even lower energy and health levels comparatively. Even toddlers and infants know what’s a burger or a French Fries, they choose their own favorite pasta or roll at restaurants and don’t prefer anything mild! It has become a difficult affair to please kids with their lunch nor it is easy to make adults eat a well-balanced meal that’s high in nutrients and energy. Apart from all this, the fast-paced world does not have time for preparing nutritious meals, going for a walk daily or reducing intake of outside foods-Isn’t food our way of celebrating team efforts, target achievements or a way of meeting and greeting friends/colleagues? Such intake of poor diet exists as the leading case of premature death and disability in many countries of the world. This is also the culprit behind metabolic syndrome and other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes which are ruling the world affecting as many people as possible.
Chronic diseases ruin the quality of life of individuals and raise the health care cost of treating patients. We do have research and trials comforting us with the good news that consuming fruits and vegetables (FV) or whole grains (WG) have potential effects on the markers of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the cluster of conditions such as dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance and abdominal fat accumulation that’s linked to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Of late, rather than relying on medicines the trend has changed and people have accepted that treatment for BP, obesity and hypertension should focus on diets for weight loss and exercise programs that help in increasing physical activity. In the recent decades we have numerous proofs justifying the fact that consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish and low-fat dairy products are protective and good for health. Physicians and health experts recommend consuming at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day for our health. But what we do is to avoid every fruit/veggie that comes our way and also use every opportunity to get lost of these nutritious foods. There are some of us who don’t even eat a single portion of veggie on many days of the week or go without munching on a slice of pineapple or kiwi.
Metabolic Benefits of Foods
Diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease have robbed people of their health and the underlying mechanism for such diseases is chronic low-grade inflammation. The gut microbiota has been in the limelight for quite sometime now as we do have numerous researches showing that the quality of the gut microbiota can prevent or lead to various diseases. The immune system and the gut microbiota interact with each other and any changes in the gut microbiota can contribute to chronic inflammation. The composition of the gut changes through the lifetime of an individual affected by the diet we eat, stress and other environmental factors. One way in which the gut microbiota induces an anti-inflammatory effect is by the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFA) that also decrease the risk of cancer and obesity.
Inflammation in the body is both good and bad depending on the extent. You cut your finger or get hurt and the area around the affected part swells immediately. This means that your immune system is pretty good and the immune cells are doing their job releasing inflammatory compounds that kill bacteria and prevent the spread of infection. But sometimes, low-grade inflammation that persists over time are the root cause behind chronic diseases. The immune cells are the ones fighting here too but rather than attacking the enemy they attack the body including blood vessels and organs. This might be the work of stress, obesity or diet and if diet is the culprit we can make commendable improvements here by making strategic alterations to the diet. A diet rich in white flour, fried foods and sugar while being low in fruits and vegetables is said to be bad for health. Controlling all aspects of the diet is great but cannot be termed as a practical approach here. We know that intake of whole grains and fruits and vegetables is appreciated for gut health and anti-inflammatory effect but what is effect the of each on inflammatory markers and gut microbiota composition?
Study Comparing WG and FV
Participants for the study were selected via flyers advertised at grocery stores based on numerous criteria that included BMI >25, no diagnosed gastrointestinal disease, no antibiotic use, <60 min/week of physical activity and low intake of fruits and vegetables. Food intake was measured using a questionnaire that included questions on serving size. A total of 49 individuals were finally selected for the study. All the participants were enrolled into one of the three groups randomly- control, WG and FV. Participants in the control group were given 3 servings/d of refined grains, those in the FV group were given 3 servings per day of fruits and vegetables that’s still below recommended levels and those in the WG group were given 3 servings/d of whole grains that was within recommended limits. All the participants visited the research lab every week during the study period and in this time they ordered their required foods from the list of foods available within each treatment group. While each of the participants were allowed to choose any combination of foods all of them had to order at least 21 and no more than 30 servings for the week
Every week when the participants visited the research lab they brought two diaries-one contained a list of all the test foods eaten during the week and another one recorded all the gastrointestinal symptoms experienced during the week. The test foods diary listed down all the foods consumed and their individual serving sizes too. The participants were given a weekly GI symptoms questionnaire that consisted of the frequency and severity of symptoms such as stomach pain, heart burn, acid reflux, hunger pains, nausea, bloating, constipation, burping, diarrhea, abnormal stools and feelings of incomplete bowel emptying. Stool and blood samples were collected at the beginning and end of the study. Results revealed that:
Role of Whole Grains Versus Fruits and Vegetables in Reducing Subclinical Inflammation & Promoting Gastrointestinal Health in Individuals Affected by Overweight & Obesity: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-018-0381-7
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