(Natural News) To maintain your gut health, your diet should include fiber-rich oats (Avena sativa). As a superfood, oats are full of dietary fibers, disease-fighting phytochemicals, healthy unsaturated fats, minerals, protein, and vitamins.
Beta-glucan, the main dietary fiber found in oats, is a soluble fiber known for its ability to help reduce cholesterol levels. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming three grams of soluble fiber daily helps lower your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A 100-gram serving of oats contains about 2.5 grams to 8.5 grams of beta-glucan, while a cup of cooked oats can provide as much as one gram to 3.4 grams of soluble fiber.
Oats are also full of crucial vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Since beta-glucan is a soluble fiber, it can boost your digestive system and add bulk to your stools. This means eating oatmeal regularly can help fight constipation. Aside from promoting regular bowel movements, the beta-glucan content of oats can also help fight colon cancer.
Why are oats good for your gut?
Dietary fibers like beta-glucan are considered as prebiotics.
The term prebiotics refers to the nondigestible components of your diet, such as fiber. Dietary fiber has the ability to modify the intestinal environment by influencing the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria. In short, prebiotics nourish the good bacteria living in your gut.
According to studies, following a diet full of whole grains like oats helps increase the population of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacilli.
In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, researchers set out to determine if dietary fiber could replace the regular use of laxatives to address constipation, a common problem in residents of nursing homes.
Participants in the fiber group were given seven to eight grams of oat bran supplements daily. The researchers reported that laxative use decreased by 59 percent in the fiber group. The researchers added that the volunteers’ body weight and overall well-being remained the same throughout the study.
Oats don’t just boost your digestive health, they also offer other benefits.
- Eating foods that contain beta-glucan boosts insulin sensitivity. If you have Type 2 diabetes, consuming oats can help you overcome severe insulin resistance.
- Beta-glucan can help with appetite control by increasing the levels of a hormone that reduces appetite. (Related: Do you get enough whole grains? Eat more to lose weight, feel fuller longer, reduce inflammation.)
- If you follow a gluten-free diet, oats can help boost the nutrient profile of your diet.
- The beta-glucan in oats also helps strengthen the immune system so it can fight off different bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses.
There are many oat-based food products available in the market. Always check labels to avoid items that contain added sugars, such as processed foods and breakfast products.
If you don’t enjoy the taste or consistency of oatmeal, here are some sweet and savory ways to consume oats:
- Add oats and fruit to plain yogurt.
- Make homemade granola.
- Use healthy spices like turmeric and add sauteed vegetables and herbs on top of your oats.
- Add a handful of plain rolled oats (uncooked) to a smoothie.
- Eat whole-grain breads made with oats or oat bran.
- Bake bread and desserts that contain oats, like cookies, fritters, muffins, oat bars, and scones.
Follow a nutritious diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and consume oats regularly to improve your digestive health.