The Return of the Whole Grain

It seems you can’t open a magazine or your favourite online wellness publication without hearing about the latest diet fad. And, until recently, this has included the low carb trend. Things seem to be taking a turn for the better though, with a ‘return’ to the understanding of the importance of nutritious whole grains.

Here are some of the many reasons you might want to add whole grains back into your diet:

Energy levels and carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source of the body, particularly when broken down to glucose for our brains. Consuming regular, slow release carbohydrate meals helps keep blood sugar at an optimal level, which is helpful in maintaining good cognitive function. Often, 3pm sugar cravings are a result of under-consuming whole grain carbohydrates earlier in the day and by eating the right carbs, energy levels may be stabilised. On top of this, when participating in physical activity, carbohydrates are the fuel that our body can use most efficiently to help us push our limits. Eating a whole grain rich meal (such as porridge or muesli) an hour or two before heading out for a run or going to your favourite exercise class, will help keep energy levels topped up so that you can perform at your best.

B Vitamins
Whole grains deliver a variety of important nutrients, including B vitamins such as niacin (B3), thiamin (B1) and folate (B9). These vitamins need to be consumed regularly in the diet to meet daily needs. B vitamins are important for a variety of functions, from improving the health of our skin, assisting with nerve function and the development of red blood cells. B3, B1 and B9 are all important in converting the foods we eat into energy, so our bodies can function optimally. Not only do whole grains provide you with that necessary energy, they also give us the tools needed to most effectively break it down, so the body is able to use it!

Protection against disease
Some medical conditions may be impacted by what we eat. Inclusion of 2-3 serves of whole grain and/or high fibre grain foods is associated with a 20-30% reduced risk of chronic disease, linked to a lower risk of bowel cancer and can contribute to a healthier body weight. These statistics are truly significant and highlight the positive health impact consumption of whole grains can have on reducing our risk of disease and improving our overall health and wellbeing.

Gut health and fibre
Whole grains are a great source of fibre, which we know is essential for good gut health. Containing insoluble fibre, soluble fibre, resistant starch and prebiotic fibres, whole grains significantly contribute to better gut health, by assisting with production of short chain fatty acids. It has been shown that a low carbohydrate diet reduces the production of the beneficial short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, propionate and acetate, highlighting the importance of including whole grain foods in the diet.


Contributed by dieticians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod, Health & Performance Collective