The holidays are here and the New Year is coming, which means only one thing…fad diets and bad dieting advice is about to rear its head again. Gut health has been the hot trend lately, so we can anticipate finding lots of BS fad info targeted at improving your gut health in the new year.
One big misconception that I hear A LOT is that grains and gluten are harmful to the gut. These misconceptions tend to come out of healthism and diet culture that demonizes any type of processed foods. *Psst*, basically all foods are “processed”. Even that organic cold-pressed green juice you might be chugging.
Now should we try to reach more often for whole grains like whole wheat, barley, brown rice, and oatmeal, instead of more refined grains found in things like cookies, cakes, and white bread? Sure, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy, nor do we have any great evidence suggesting that moderate amounts of refined grain products cause issues.
In terms of gut health, currently, there is no strong evidence that grains are bad for your gut. In fact, most of the research suggests the opposite, especially with whole grains. Whole grains contain fibers that are metabolized by the gut microbiota, and in that process, the microbes produce numerous compounds that interact with our intestinal cells to strengthen our gut barrier and even may get into our bloodstream and positively impact other organs of the body.
Fiber isn’t only helpful for gut health. The fiber found in whole grains also keeps us feeling fuller longer and can also lower blood cholesterol, which reduces our risk of cardiovascular disease.
Now gluten tends to be even more of a controversial topic than just grains. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat, barley, and rye (which are grains) that provides elasticity and structure. This is why a lot of gluten-free breads tend to be really crumbly or dry. Outside of celiac disease or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there is not strong evidence that anyone else should really need to cut gluten out of their diets.
If we want to get nitpicky, gluten-free flours tend to have less fiber and may have added components that some people digest more poorly…not really what I’d consider optimal for gut health. And, if we are being honest, gluten-free products tend to be much more expensive. Save your money and your mental energy and just eat the gluten.
Not going to lie, one of my absolute favorite sources of grains and gluten is bread, and I actually prefer a dense whole-grain bread over your traditional refined loaf you may get at the grocery store.
One of my favorite brands for whole-grain bread is Angelica’s Bakehouse and my personal favorite of theirs is the “7-Sprouted Whole Grain Bread”. I also love their wraps and can attest that they make amazing quesadillas! They also have some yummy pizza crusts that make for a quick and easy dinner on a night you don’t really feel like cooking. You can check them out at the link here! #Ad #BeAngelic #Sponsored
In summary, grains and gluten are not the devil for your gut health unless you have specific complications that prevent you from being able to consume them. Incorporate those grains, and get that fiber and your gut will thank you!
Let me know what your favorite grain is and how you like to eat it in the comments below!
I’ll end with a disclaimer that: if you find that removing grains or gluten from your diet makes you feel the best and doesn’t cause you unnecessary stress, then you do you! Those of you that know me, know that I will never tell you that you shouldn’t eat in a way that truly makes you feel the best (unless we know it’s outright harmful).