Wholegrain oats are a source of fibers and for this reason they have a beneficial effect on the health of the gut and of the entire body since they lower the absorption of sugars and dietary cholesterol. But wholegrain oats have also prebiotic properties, in fact, they are able to increase the growth of health promoting good bacteria in the gut and protect the so called microbiota, namely the intestinal flora. A study published a few months ago in The British Journal of Nutrition by an English team (Kristek et al, Mar 2019) managed to demonstrate this beneficial effect of wholegrain oats and also to understand the underlying mechanism.
The microbiota is constituted by all the bacteria of our gut and nowadays it is well accepted that the health of microbiota is also linked to the health and wellbeing of the body. In fact, an unbalance in the gut microbiota where the good bacteria decrease may cause, in the long run, conditions such as obesity, weak immune system, infections, allergies, bad digestion and some types of cancers such as of the colon. Hence the importance to understand which food may affect the microbiota. Wholegrain oats are one of the foods that act in a beneficial way and are called prebiotic, this means that they are able to selectively promote the growth of good bacteria. The study demonstrated, indeed, that the supplementation with wholegrain oats has determined an increase in bifidobacteria, a type of gut bacteria particularly beneficial thanks to their anti inflammatory properties, their supportive action on the immune system and their ability to counteract toxins. Moreover, wholegrain oats induced also an increase in fatty acids such as acetic and propionic acids, useful for the health of the body since they represent the energy supply for the intestinal cells. The scientists have also observed that this action isn’t only due to the fibers in oats but also to the synergy of all compounds found in the cereal, such as fibers but also polyphenols, that are powerful antioxidants.