The Breakfast Boost for Good Bacteria
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Most slimmers know how important it is to start the day with breakfast, but it’s equally important to include wholegrain cereals, which are packed with nutrients.
New research shows it’s not just the vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals in whole grains that makes them such a good choice.
Scientists at the University of Reading have discovered that Shredded Wheat, Shreddies and Cheerios also have a naturally occurring prebiotic effect – in other words, they provide food for the good bacteria in the gut.
The researchers found that each of these cereals increased levels of two types of friendly bacteria – lactobacilli and bifidobacteria – in a laboratory test that mimicked the human gut. They then went on to see whether these effects were reproduced in humans. When 38 healthy adults ate a bowl of Shredded Wheat for three weeks, the researchers discovered that again, levels of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli significantly increased.
Dr Kieran Tuohy, who led the study says, “Eating foods containing prebiotics is good for health and overall wellbeing. We know foods containing whole grain are healthy in terms of heart health and weight management and now it is great that some whole grains have been shown to have a natural prebiotic effect.”
Over the years, we’ve heard plenty about the health benefits of boosting levels of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut – and as a result, many of us have added probiotic drinks or yogurts to our daily diet.
Most of us however, don’t realise it’s just as essential to provide food for these good bacteria – and the best way to do this is by eating more foods that contain prebiotics.
Two of the best-known prebiotics are fructo-oligosaccharide (usually shortened to FOS) and inulin. These occur naturally in foods such as garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, asparagus, spinach, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, peas, beans, lentils, oats and bananas. Some manufacturers are also adding prebiotics like inulin to their products to encourage the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut.
It’s great news that scientists have proven for the first time that whole grains in products like Shredded Wheat, Shreddies and Cheerios provide a natural prebiotic effect.
Boosting levels of friendly bacteria in our gut helps keep the digestive system healthy and may help to enhance our body’s natural defences.
This makes whole grain cereals a great choice for helping people to control their weight, reduce their risk of heart disease and boost their immunity. Just remember to serve whole grain cereals with semi-skimmed or skimmed milk to keep calories and fat levels down.
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