Oats & Gut Health – What’s the Connection?
August 3, 2020
by Tammy-Lynn McNabb, RHNP – Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Health Coach, and Holistic Practitioner
In the age of Covid-19, the buzz word that we frequently hear and need to pay close attention to is ‘gut health’ and a ‘healthy microbiome’. In the coming months, you will continue to hear about how your gut plays an intricate role in your overall health. A key game changer when it comes to maintaining your health is to include adding prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods into your diet. Did you know that 40-80% of your immune system is in your microbiome? Your gastrointestinal system needs to be properly supported to successfully and effectively do its job. Your microbiome is in your gut and other areas of your body like your mouth and nose. A balanced gut means your health will improve and you will presumably have a fair amount of energy. When your microbiome is out of balance, you will experience health issues that could include cancer, diabetes, brain fog, and weight gain. By consuming a consistently rich prebiotic and probiotic-rich diet, along with avoiding foods that tax your gut like sugar and processed foods, you stand a greater chance of allowing your body to protect and defend your system overall.
Oats are a great source of prebiotic fibre.
A long-time gut–healthy food, oats are a source of prebiotic fibre that probiotics use for fuel. Prebiotics are boosters for probiotics. Including both prebiotics and probiotics in your diet ensures that you are covering all bases when it comes to keeping your gut healthy and strong. Some of the fibre in oats is a fermentable fibre – meaning the friendly bacteria in your gut can ‘feed’ on it. This is beneficial in multiple ways. First, it creates an environment that encourages healthy bacteria to multiply and leaves little room for bad bacteria to grow. It also helps with digestion and optimal absorption of nutrients from your food.
When bacteria ferment these fibres, they produce short-chain fatty acids including butyrate. Butyrate is used for energy, by cells lining the large intestine which helps to keep your gut wall healthy, sealed, and effective. Butyrate has also been found to improve the ‘barrier’ function of the gut wall, which essentially stops harmful substances from being absorbed by the gut into the bloodstream. Like collagen and the gel-like substance created by flaxseeds, oat fibre benefits the protective lining of the gut. Beta-glucan is a soluble dietary fibre found in oats that are strongly linked to improving cholesterol levels and boosting heart health. For our gut and digestive health, beta-glucan in oats form a gel-like substance when it mixes with water. This gel coats the stomach and digestive tract and also feeds good bacteria in the gut, which increases their growth rate and can contribute to a healthy gut.
A healthy gut must have a protective mucosal lining which acts as a barrier and seal. Food particles are broken down here and pass quickly through to the intestinal tract where our body makes good use of it. If your gut lining has been damaged through bacterial imbalance (like extended antibiotic use), stress, or lack of regular sleep – you can develop a ‘leaky gut’, which occurs when the lining of your gut has been damaged and is now porous. Once a gut has been damaged and no longer has a leak-proof barrier, food particles, bacteria, and pathogens can pass through the previously sealed gut lining and enter your bloodstream. The body’s response to undigested particles passing through the gut barrier results in an immune response called inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of many issues in our bodies.
Oats – a gentler source of fibre
Oats can be a gentler source of fibre for your gut compared to some other grains. So, if you suffer bloating or other digestive difficulties, consider switching to oats – such as oat porridge, oat-based muesli, oatcakes, or oat crackers. There are many wonderful recipes are using oat fibre that you should try.
As we move into another unknown season that includes not only Covid-19 but cold and flu season, it is important to focus on your gut health and the benefits of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Include as many prebiotic and probiotic foods in your daily menu this summer. Your healthy gut is your number one defence in your well-being!
- Eat a Plant-Based Diet with Lots of Fibre. The fibre in plant foods passes through the digestive system until it reaches the colon.
- Eat Fermented Foods Everyday. (think Sauerkraut or yogurt)
- Consume Prebiotic-Rich Foods like Oats.
- Choose Polyphenol-Rich Foods.
- Take a good Probiotic.
- Incorporate Collagen.
- Limit Sugar Intake.
- Be Mindful of Antibiotics.
Gut Boosting Blueberry Oat Muffin Recipe
Recipe from The Recipe Rebel – https://www.thereciperebel.com/blueberry-oatmeal-muffins/
- 1 cup *Rogers Porridge Oats (100g)
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed (240g)
- 3/4 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt (155g)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (115g)
- 1/4 cup canola oil (50g)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (260g)
- 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (300g)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine oats and hot water in a medium bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the batter.
In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar, yogurt, applesauce, oil, eggs and vanilla together until smooth.
Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and whisk until smooth.
Add soaked oats and stir until evenly distributed.
Add flour and berries and stir just until combined — don’t overmix!
Lightly grease a muffin pan and fill 24 muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
*Rogers Porridge Oats is a combination of oat flakes, wheat bran, oat bran, and flaxseed that is excellent for cooking as a breakfast cereal and for adding to baked goods
About Tammy-Lynn McNabb, RHNP – Tammy-Lynn is a television host at Health Wellness & Lifestyle TV, a show airing on two national networks across Canada and in its 7th season. As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Tammy-Lynn uses her knowledge in wellness and combines it with her passion for food. She believes that being healthy doesn’t mean that the food we eat has to be boring. Using the science of ingredients, Tammy-Lynn enjoys creating food with ingredients that provide maximum health benefits without compromising taste. Watch for Alligga in the cooking segment of the show!
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