Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and surely you’ve heard that you mustn’t skip it. What is more important is that not every breakfast provides the needed health benefits.
You may have heard the saying that a hearty bowl of oatmeal at breakfast “sticks to your ribs”. This is not too far from the truth.
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber which stays in the stomach longer and helps you feel fuller, longer. This can prevent overeating later on in the day, which may help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid the health problems associated with overweight.
Eating just a half cup of oatmeal a day is enough to reap the many health benefits of the fiber it contains.
Fiber describes the portion of plant materials in the diet which humans cannot digest. It is an important component in maintaining gastrointestinal (GI) health by regulating transit time through the GI tract and adding bulk, increasing a feeling of fullness and preventing constipation.
Health Benefits of Oats
While the health benefits of oats are documented in hundreds of studies, we’ve listed just a sample here to indicate the power of oats to improve human health.
1. Boosts Energy
Oatmeal is a carbohydrate and protein-rich source that provides calories and energy. A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found consuming a low glycemic meal, like oatmeal, three hours prior to a run gives you better endurance than a high glycemic meal. Foods like oatmeal tend to cause a slow rise in glycemic levels, which is ideal for increasing fat-burning during exercise.
“The complex, slow digesting, carbohydrates will give your muscles the energy it needs to have a better workout,” Brennecke said. He suggests complex carbohydrates be accompanied with some protein. This will give the muscles the tools necessary to rebuild while also giving your muscles a head start on post-workout muscle recovery.
2. Protects Skin
This power food has been used as a soothing agent to relieve itch and irritation while also providing an array of benefits for the skin. Oatmeal is able to normalize the skin’s pH, which can relieve itchy and uncomfortable skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This is why oatmeal baths are recommended for itchy skin relief because they are able to soften and moisturize the skin, helping to protect it from potential irritants.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology discussed the high concentration in starches and beta-glucan in colloidal oatmeal is responsible for the protective and water-holding functions of oats. Moreover, the presence of different types of phenols confers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Nutrients in oatmeal like copper, zinc, selenium, thiamin, and niacin contribute to support skin health.
3. Supports Weight Loss
Oatmeal is an appetite suppressor that can be an integral part to any weight loss diet. Cholecystokinin, a hunger-fighting hormone, is increased with the oatmeal compound beta-glucan. A 2009 study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found satiety increased as a result of eating foods containing beta-glucan. Rene Ficek, a registered dietitian and lead nutrition Expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating told Medical Daily in an email: “Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber, which can help anyone feel fuller for longer, as it takes a long time to digest.” This keeps hunger at bay, which can help you stay slim.
4. Prevents Diabetes
Oatmeal’s low glycemic index is beneficial when it comes to reducing the risk of diabetes. This helps the stomach empty its contents slowly, which affects blood sugar levels and has a positive effect on our insulin sensitivity. A 2006 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a diet that produces a low glycemic response is associated with less insulin resistance and a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes than a diet that produces a high glycemic response. “Diabetes affects just about every organ in the body and needs to be controlled,” Brennecke said.
5. Boosts Heart Health
Foods rich in whole oat sources of soluble fiber have been linked to good heart health. Oatmeal contains both calcium and potassium, which according to Brennecke, are known to reduce blood pressure numbers. “Eating oatmeal on a daily basis can reduce your blood pressure several points,” he said.
A 1999 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found whole grain consumption was associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease due to its soluble fiber. The 10-year groundbreaking study was able to track the value of oat-based products and showed there was a link between their consumption and a healthier lifestyle.
6. Reduces Colon Cancer
A high-fiber diet can be beneficial when it comes to reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. Its soluble fiber and insoluble fiber can help speed up the passage of food and waste. Brennecke explained how “soluble fiber dissolves in water, which delays the emptying of your stomach, keeping you full for longer periods of time.” Meanwhile, insoluble fiber has a laxative effect and adds bulk to the stool, which prevents constipation. This fiber attracts water and passes through the digestive tract easily, speeding the passage of food and waste. This is what promotes good colon health.
A 2011 study published in the BMJ found total fiber intake, as well as fiber from whole grains and from cereals, was strongly associated with a reduction in colon cancer. Although the link between fiber intake and risk reduction was small, with a 10 percent risk reduction seen in colon cancer for each 10 grams of fiber eaten a day, the more fiber people ate, the more risk reduction was found.
So, soak your oats and eat your way back to good physical, mental, and emotional health.