(Natural News) Whole grains are great for gut health, and a recent study reveals how. The researchers from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France found that eating whole grain rye (WGR) has a positive impact on serotonin levels in the blood.
The study builds up from previous research which showed that whole grains affected metabolites – molecules in the body that are involved in metabolic processes.
Through human and mice studies, the researchers examined how two kinds of bread – WGR and wheat bread with fermented rye bran – affected gut metabolism. They also determined how the two breads influenced the levels of metabolites in blood.
From their findings, it affirms that rye bread has a lot of health benefits, making it a great alternative for common wheat bread.
Fast facts on rye
Rye is a grain from a common weed. It evolved to look like wheat, so that its seeds could be sown again during planting season. Because it could tolerate cold climates, farmers started cultivating it, and it became a cereal crop. It is now a part of the wheat family, together with oats, barley, and buckwheat.
Rye grains can be harvested and turned into flour. There are many kinds, namely:
- The light and medium rye flour, which are refined.
- The dark, rye meal, and pumperknickel varieties, which are more likely to be whole grain.
WGR helps lower serotonin levels
Whole grain rye produces a dense, dark bread and has a delicious earthy flavor. Researchers found that eating this kind of bread may influence the body’s serotonin levels.
Serotonin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter. It is mainly found in the intestines, but it also located in the brain and blood platelets. It has role in regulating mood, digestion, blood clotting, and bone density.
However, high levels of serotonin in the blood (plasma) is not a good sign. It is linked to high blood glucose levels, which is a risk factor for diabetes.
In the study, the researchers conducted two tests. The first was a human clinical trial, wherein researchers compared the effects of WGR and wheat bread with fermented rye bran on serotonin levels. There were 15 participants who ate WGR for four weeks, then ate wheat bread with fermented rye bran for another four weeks. Researchers took blood samples at the end of the first four-week period and after the next four weeks.
The second study was conducted on mice. Researchers observed the effects between mice who only ate cellulose flour and mice who had rye or wheat bran added to their diet.
The first study’s findings revealed that serotonin levels were significantly lower when the participants ate WGR bread. The same results also appeared in the second study.
Researchers believed that consuming WGR can help manage serotonin levels. They also consider its potential to help treat diabetes. (Related: Consumption of rye linked to weight control and vigorous health.)
Other health benefits of eating whole grain rye
Aside from lowering serotonin levels, WGR has other health benefits:
- It is nutritious. WGR is rich in antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and potassium.
- It is rich in fiber. Instead of insulin spikes, it causes a steady rise in blood sugar instead. Fiber also helps in managing cholesterol and blood pressure.
- It makes people feel full longer. Because it is high in fiber, it can make you feel more satiated. This is great for people trying to manage hunger and trying to lose weight.
Other information on whole grain rye include:
- It is not gluten-free. For people looking for a gluten-free substitute to common bread, rye bread is not an option. It still contains gluten, albeit in small amounts.
- It does not have wheat germ agglutinin. This compound gives wheat its inflammatory and anti-insulin properties. For rye, that is not a problem.
Tip: When buying rye bread, make sure to look for the label “whole.” This ensures that it is made of whole grain rye.