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Go With the Grain: Reduce Weight and Body-Wide Inflammation

Go With the Grain: Reduce Weight and Body-Wide Inflammation

As the playwright Tom Stoppard (The Real Thing, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) once said, “We give advice by the bucket, but take it by the grain.” That may accurately describe human pushiness and folly, but when it comes to whole grains, what if we did the opposite—dishing them out by the bucket and not taking them grain-by-grain? Well, that’s the smart move, and it's guaranteed to improve your health and give you a younger RealAge.

A study headed by the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark shows exchanging refined and processed grains—white rice, white bread and pastas—for whole grains has two far-reaching health benefits:

  1. They promote weight loss by filling you up and keeping you full longer.
  2. They slash low-level, body-wide inflammation (measured by declining levels of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6), which reduces your risk of everything from cardiovascular disease to depression, and even some cancers.

Tracking 60 participants at risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, the researchers found all whole grains had benefits, but whole-grain rye was particularly effective in reducing markers of low-grade, chronic inflammation. Other surprises: Over two eight-week periods, researchers found whole grains did not measurably alter gut biome composition or insulin sensitivity. It may be that those changes take longer to happen, so keep good grains center stage and go with 100 percent whole wheat, rye, oats, sorghum, barley, buckwheat and corn. They’ll give you a healthy long run.

Medically reviewed in October 2019.

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