There’s no denying the positive effects that whole grains can have on your overall health. Research shows that benefits like a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease to simple, everyday benefits like improved appetite control are all great reasons why you should adopt a diet that’s rich in whole grains. But did you know that recent studies show that substituting refined grains with whole grains in your diet can result in better gut health, too? Let’s dive into the details of the importance of gut health and how whole grains can help you keep your gut healthy and strong.
If you haven’t already read our blog post about the differences between whole grains, refined grains, and enriched grains, and why it even matters, here is a quick rundown. Whole grains—like those used in every Kodiak Cakes product—consist of three parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm. Enriched and refined grains, on the other hand, have had the bran and germ removed during the milling process. While removing these parts of the grain does extend the shelf life of the flour, it also removes most of the nutritional benefits from the whole grain—such as fiber. This is important because research suggests that fiber plays an important role in achieving good gut health.
You’ve probably heard a lot about how fiber improves digestion, but let’s take a closer look at exactly why that is. As it turns out, our bodies do not have the enzymes to break down fiber on their own. Instead, we rely on help from good gut bacteria to break down fiber. It’s not until fiber enters our large intestine that it can be broken down through a fermentation process caused by that good gut bacteria. In turn, this fermentation process releases short-chain fatty acids that can actually improve the overall health of our gastrointestinal (GI) tracts by acting as food for cells in our GI tracts and helping to maintain the integrity of intestinal walls, which reduces inflammation and risk of infection.
More specifically, several studies suggest a breakfast high in whole grains may actually increase the amount of bifidobacterial and lactobacilli in the gut, both of which have been associated with some significant health benefits like boosting the immune system, increasing butyrate production (food for colon cells), and moderating inflammation in the gut. Researchers involved with these studies are careful to point out that the increase in good gut bacteria after eating more whole grains have been modest. This is mainly due to the complexity of gut health and the many factors that play into achieving good gut health. Some factors that improve gut health can range from things like getting more sleep to staying properly hydrated. Simply put, there is likely no single factor that results in good gut health. Interestingly enough, research suggests a diet low in whole grains can be linked to dysbiosis, which is associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
At this point you’re probably saying to yourself, “I get it! Whole grains are good for my gut health, but how much should I be eating and what are good sources of whole grains?” Well, recent dietary guidelines recommend adults have at least three to five servings of whole grains each day, with a serving being anything from a ½ cup of cooked rice or whole grain pasta to one of our convenient Flapjack Unleashed Cups. There’s really no shortage of ways to get your daily recommended servings of whole grains—especially when you consider the fact that whole grains consist of everything from rice, quinoa, corn, wheat, and oatmeal!
The best part about incorporating more whole grains in your diet, apart from the obvious health benefits, is that whole grains just taste better! In fact, one of our favorite sources of whole grains is our original Whole Wheat Oat & Honey Frontier Cakes. Crafted with 100% whole grains, this flapjack and waffle mix is a great tasting way to get a good start on your whole grain intake for the day. It’s even great for baking or used in this Probiotic Pancake Recipe for a true gut-healthy breakfast.
Do you have your own unique way of making Kodiak Cakes even better for your overall gut health? Show us your favorite gut healthy Kodiak Cakes recipes by tagging @kodiakcakes and using #kodiakcakes on Instagram and Facebook!