Increased Consumption of Whole Grains Could Significantly Reduce the Economic Impact of Type 2 Diabetes

Increased consumption of whole grain foods could significantly reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes and the costs associated with its treatment in Finland, according to a recent study by the University of Eastern Finland and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. The findings were published in Nutrients.

“Our study shows that already one serving of full grains as part of the daily diet reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes at the population level and, consequently, the direct diabetes-related costs, when compared to people who do not eat whole grain foods on a daily basis. Over the next ten years, society’s potential to achieve cost savings would be from 300 million (-3.3%) to almost one billion (-12.2%) euros in current value, depending on the presumed proportion of whole grain foods in the daily diet. On the level of individuals, this means more healthier years,” says Professor Janne Martikainen from the University of Eastern Finland.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest-growing chronic diseases both in Finland and globally. Healthy nutrition that supports weight management is key to preventing type 2 diabetes. The association of daily consumption of whole grain foods with a lower risk of diabetes has been demonstrated in numerous studies.

“According to nutrition recommendations, at least 3–6 servings of whole grain foods should be eaten daily, depending on an individual’s energy requirement. One third of Finns do not eat even one dose of whole grains on a daily basis, and two thirds have a too low fibre intake,” Research Manager Jaana Lindström from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare says.

The now published study utilised findings from, e.g., national follow-up studies, such as the FinHealth Study, to assess the health and economic effects of increased consumption of whole grain foods on the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

“By combining population-level data on the incidence of type 2 diabetes and the costs of its treatment, as well as published evidence on the effects of how consumption of whole grain foods reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes, we were able to assess the potential health and economic benefits from both social and individual viewpoints,” Martikainen says.

Source: University of Eastern Finland

Whole Grains Every Day: Key to Your Health and Waistline

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

Whole grains can help older adults maintain a thinner waist, lower blood pressure and lower blood sugar, new research suggests.

Just three servings a day may do the trick, the authors said.

One serving is a slice of whole-grain bread, a half-cup of rolled oat cereal, or a half-cup of brown rice.

Researchers noted that their study — partially funded by the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition — doesn’t prove that whole grains are protective, only that there appears to be a link between them and waist size, blood pressure and blood sugar.

“These are all risk factors that can contribute to the development of heart disease if not maintained at healthy levels,” said study co-author Nicola McKeown of the Nutritional Epidemiology Team at Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston.

The researchers used data from a health study of residents in Framingham, Mass., which started in 1948. They looked at health outcomes linked to whole and refined grains in the diets of more than 3,100 participants. Data was collected every four years over a median follow-up of 18 years. (Median means half were followed longer, half for less time.)

The new study compared changes in five heart disease risk factors — blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides and waist size — with reported intake of whole grains. Researchers examined effects of eating less than a half-serving to three or more a day.

The upshot: People who ate few whole gains gained an inch around the waist every four years — compared to a half-inch among those who ate the most whole grains.

Participants who ate fewer whole grains also saw bigger increases in blood pressure and blood sugar than those who ate the most whole grains.

While whole grain intake was also associated with improvements in blood levels of HDL, or good, cholesterol, as well as triglycerides, the findings were not significant, researchers added.

For waist size, blood pressure and blood sugar, the greatest benefit came from having three to four servings of whole grains a day.

Most whole grains came from whole wheat breads and ready-to-eat cereals. Refined grains were mostly pasta and white bread.

McKeown said whole grains probably help prevent adverse changes in risk factors studied in several ways, but the mechanisms aren’t yet known.

“For instance, in terms of helping prevent gain in body fat, the benefits may be related to the fiber in whole grains, which can help to prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes, help us to feel full so that we might eat a little less, or even feed our healthy gut microbes,” she said.

Other nutrients found in whole grains, such as magnesium, may help with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

“And then we have the many phytochemicals found in whole grains that may act alone or in synergy with other nutrients to help maintain our health as we age,” McKeown said. “This is still a very active area of research.”

Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, was not part of the study but reviewed the findings. She said whole grains have many benefits.

“Fiber-rich foods like whole grains provide a plethora of healthy compounds like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” Heller said. “Research has found that whole grains help reduce body weight and low-grade inflammation, manage blood sugar, reduce the risk of certain cancers and keep the gastrointestinal tract running smoothly.”

But, Heller said, the typical Western diet consists primarily of refined grains, such as white bread, cereals, crackers, desserts and pastries. These refined grains have been found to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and even a decline in memory and thinking skills, she added.

The good news: Adding more whole grains to the diet is easier than you might think.

“Consumers may be surprised to realize that foods like tortilla chips, shredded wheat, oatmeal, whole wheat tortillas and whole-grain crackers all count as whole grains,” Heller said.

She said shoppers can look for the Whole Grain Council’s “Whole Grain” stamp on product labels. It identifies how many grams of whole grains are in a product.

The findings were published online in the Journal of Nutrition.

Source: HealthDay

Whole Grain Can Contribute to Health by Changing Intestinal Serotonin Production

Adults consuming whole grain rye have lower plasma serotonin levels than people eating low-fibre wheat bread, according to a recent study by the University of Eastern Finland and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). In the study, the consumption of cereal fibre from rye or wheat was also found to reduce serotonin levels in the colon of mice. In light of the results, the health benefits of whole grain cereals may be linked, at least in part, to the alteration of serotonin production in the intestines, where the majority of the body’s serotonin is produced. The results of were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The consumption of whole grain cereals has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, but the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. There may be effects on bioactive compounds contained in whole grains, phytochemicals and fibres from which different metabolites are produced by intestinal bacteria.

The new study explored how the consumption of wholegrain rye modulates concentrations of different metabolites in the bloodstream. The study employed untargeted metabolite profiling, also known as metabolomics, which can simultaneously detect numerous metabolites, including those previously unknown.

For the first four weeks of the study, the participants ate 6 to 10 slices a day of low-fibre wheat bread, and then another four weeks the same amount of wholegrain rye bread or wheat bread supplemented with rye fibre. Otherwise, they didn’t change their diet. At the end of both periods, they gave blood samples, which were analysed by a combination of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Their plasma metabolite profiles between the different diet periods were then compared .

The consumption of wholegrain rye led to, among other things, significantly lower serotonin concentrations when compared to consumption of low-fibre wheat bread. The researchers also tested in mice whether the addition of cereal fibre to the diet changes serotonin production in the intestine. The diet of the mice was supplemented for nine weeks with rye bran, wheat bran or cellulose flour. The mice receiving rye or wheat bran had significantly lower serotonin in their colon.

Serotonin is best known as a neurotransmitter in the brain. However, serotonin produced by the intestines remains separated from the brain, serving various peripheral functions including modulation of gut’s motility. Increased blood serotonin has also been associated with high blood glucose levels.

“Whole grain, on the other hand, is known to reduce the risk of diabetes, and on the basis of these new results, the effect could at least partly be due to a decrease in serotonin levels,” says Academy Research Fellow Kati Hanhineva from the University of Eastern Finland.

The researchers are also interested in the association of serotonin with colorectal cancer.

“Some recent studies have found cancer patients to have higher plasma serotonin levels than healthy controls,” Scientist Pekka Keski-Rahkonen from IARC adds.

The consumption of wholegrain rye bread was also associated with lower plasma concentrations of taurine, glycerophosphocholine and two endogenous glycerophospholipids. In addition, the researchers identified 15 rye phytochemicals whose levels in the bloodstream increased with the consumption of rye fibre.

Source: Science Daily

Newly Discovered Compounds Shed Fresh Light on Whole Grain Health Benefits

Scientists have discovered new compounds that may explain whole grain health benefits, reports a new study led by the University of Eastern Finland. A high intake of whole grains increased the levels of betaine compounds in the body which, in turn, was associated with improved glucose metabolism, among other things. The findings shed new light on the cell level effects of a whole grain-rich diet, and can help in the development of increasingly healthy food products.

“Whole grains are one of the healthiest foods there is. For instance, we know that a high intake of whole grains protects against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Up until now, however, we haven’t understood the cellular mechanisms through which a whole grain-rich diet impacts our body,” says Dr Kati Hanhineva, Principal Investigator of the study at the University of Eastern Finland.

Using metabolomics analysis, Dr Hanhineva’s research group investigated the effects of a whole grain-rich diet on the body’s metabolites. The effects were studied in mice fed with bran-rich fodder, and in humans following a diet rich in whole grain products over the course of 12 weeks. A whole grain-rich diet increased the levels of betaine compounds in both mice and humans.

“This is the first time many of these betaine compounds were observed in the human body in the first place,” Dr Hanhineva says.

At the end of the 12-week follow-up, the researchers also observed a correlation between improved glucose metabolism and increased presence of betaine compounds in the body.

“Pipecolic acid betaine, for example, is particularly interesting. Increased levels of pipecolic acid betaine after the consumption of whole grains was, among other things, associated with lower post-meal glucose levels.”

New compound worked similarly to a heart drug in cell level experiments

One of the betaine compounds discovered by the researchers is 5-aminovaleric acid betaine, 5-AVAB, which seems to cumulate in metabolically active tissues, such as the heart. With this observation in mind, the researchers set out to further test its effects in a cell model.

“We observed that 5-AVAB reduces cardiomyocytes’ use of fatty acids as a source of energy by inhibiting the function of a certain cell membrane protein,” Researcher Olli Kärkkäinen from the University of Eastern Finland says.

“This cell level effect is similar to that of certain drugs used for cardiovascular diseases. However, it is important to keep in mind that we haven’t proceeded beyond cell level experiments yet. We need further research in animals and humans to verify that 5-AVAB really can impact the function of our body.”

However, the discovery of the new compounds associated with whole grains significantly enhances our understanding of why whole grain products are good for our health.

“In the future, we seek to analyse in greater detail the multitude of effects these new compounds can have on the human body, and we will also look into how intestinal microbes possibly contribute to the formation of these compounds,” Dr Hanhineva continues.

The findings were reported in Scientific Reports and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Source: University of Eastern Finland

Wholegrains Important for Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

​It doesn’t matter if it’s rye, oats, or wheat. As long as it is wholegrain, it can prevent type 2 diabetes. This is the finding of a new study from researchers at Chalmers and the Danish Cancer Society Research Center.

​The comprehensive study is a strong confirmation of previous research findings on the importance of whole grains for prevention of type 2 diabetes – previously sometimes known as adult-onset diabetes. Even if the link has been known for a long time, the role of different wholegrain sources has not been investigated earlier. It has also been unclear how much wholegrain is needed to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

“Most studies similar to ours have previously been conducted in the USA, where people mainly get their wholegrain from wheat,” says Rikard Landberg, Professor at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science, and senior researcher on the study.

“We wanted to see if there was a difference between different cereals. One might expect there would be, because they contain different types of dietary fibre and bioactive substances, which have been shown to influence risk factors for type 2 diabetes.”

The amount matters

The study was conducted in Denmark, where there is a big variation in wholegrain-intake. The study showed that it made no difference which type of wholegrain product or cereal the participants ate – ryebread, oatmeal, and muesli, for example, seem to offer the same protection against type 2 diabetes.

What is more important is how much wholegrain one eats each day – and the study also provides important clarification to the scientific knowledge when it comes to daily dosages.

The participants were divided into 4 different groups, based on how much wholegrain they reported eating. Those with the highest consumption ate at least 50 grams of wholegrain each day. This corresponds to a portion of oatmeal porridge and one slice of rye bread, for example.

The proportion who developed type 2 diabetes was lowest in the group which reported the highest wholegrain consumption, and increased for each group which had eaten less wholegrain. In the group with the highest wholegrain intake, the diabetes risk was 34 percent lower for men, and 22 percent lower for women, than in the group with the lowest wholegrain intake.

“It is unusual to be able to investigate such a large range when it comes to how much wholegrain people eat,” says Rikard Landberg.

“If you divided American participants into 4 groups, the group that ate the most wholegrain would be the same level as the group that ate the least wholegrain in Denmark. In Europe, Scandinavia eats the most, Spain and Italy the least.”

Additionally, the study was uncommonly large, with 55,000 participants, over a long time span – 15 years.

In line with dietary advice

If you compare wholegrains’ role in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes against other foods that have been investigated in other studies, it is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk when it comes to diet. Drinking coffee, and avoiding red meat, are other factors that can similarly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Our results are in line with dietary advice, which recommends switching out foods containing white flour for wholegrains,” says Rikard Landberg.

“You get extra health benefits – white flour has some negative effects on health, while wholegrain has several positive effects, beyond protection against type 2 diabetes.”

Good to eat carbohydrates

Wholegrains are defined as consisting of all three main components of the grain kernel: endosperm, germ, and bran. Those who avoid all cereals, in an attempt to follow a low carb diet, therefore lose out on the positive health effects of wholegrain, which come principally from the bran and the germ. Rikard Landberg thinks that cereals, and carbohydrates in general, should not be avoided in diet.

“Carbohydrates are a very varied group of foodstuffs, including sugar, starch, and fibre. We should discuss these more individually, and not throw them together in one group, because they have totally different effects on our physiology and health. When it comes to wholegrains, the research results are clear: among the many studies which have been made, in varied groups of people around the world, there hasn’t been a single study which has shown negative health effects.”

Facts: Wholegrains

Wholegrains consist of all three main components of the grain kernel: endosperm, germ and bran. It can be both loose grains, and wholegrain flour. Grains such as oatmeal and rye, wheatberries, bulgur, and wholegrain couscous are all wholegrains. In bread and pasta, the wholegrain content can vary. Common cereals include wheat, rye, oats, corn, maize, rice, millet and sorghum.

Swedish dietary advice is to eat around 70g of wholegrain a day for women, and 90g a day for men. Some examples of how much wholegrain different foods contain:

  • One 50 g slice of rye bread: 16g wholegrain.
  • One 35 g serving of oatmeal porridge: 35 g wholegrain
  • One 12 g crispbread: 12 g wholegrain

Facts: The study

The study used data from a prospective Danish cohort study on diet, cancer and health. It covered more than 55,000 participants, who were between 50-65 years old when the study started. During the initiation of the cohort study in the early 1990s, healthy participants had filled in detailed forms of their eating habits. Through these, the researchers established the participants’ total wholegrain intake per day, which of the most common cereals they got their wholegrain from, (wheat, rye, oats, in grams per day), and the total number, and different types, of wholegrain products (in grams per day) – rye bread, other wholegrain breads, oatmeal porridge and muesli.

The cohort study was linked with data from Denmark’s national diabetes register, to investigate which participants developed type 2 diabetes during a 15 year period – which in total was over 7000 people.

Source: CHALMERS UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY


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