Did you know whole-grains are basically seeds? They include foods like barley, quinoa, oats, rice, rye, spelt, teff and wheat, to name a few. Unlike refined grains, whole-grains contain three parts, each with unique health properties:
- The bran is the fibre-filled outer layer packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
- The germ centre of the seed is rich in healthy fats, vitamins and antioxidants.
- The endosperm is the innermost layer that holds the carbohydrates and protein.
1. Whole-grains fuel your fitness
So it's critical to prioritise whole-grains - make them the hero of each meal to boost your fitness and diet. They can help with:
Whole-grains do not only assist with recovery but also a great way to fuel your workout. Ensure that about 1-2 hours before your training session, you enjoy a whole-grain-based meal or snack for a boost of energy and get the most out of your session. Once your workout is over, eat whole-grains within 1-1.5 hours after your session to enhance recovery, build muscle and improve overall performance and adaptations. Here are whole-grain options to try:
- Cooked oatmeal with grated apple
- Quinoa bowl with an array of vegetables
- Sushi (1 hand roll, or 4-6 California rolls)
So to get the most out of your grains, remember to eat some before you train!
2. Whole-grains for good skin
As we age, advanced glycation end products (AGEs) naturally form inside the body. This happens when proteins or fats combine with sugars, known as glycation, making cells prone to damage and premature ageing. A similar process can be seen in animal proteins (particularly red meat) cooked at high temperatures.
Your body has the ability to rid itself of AGEs that occur naturally, however it is less effective at removing those ingested from food. But there are dietary changes you can make to reduce your risk of wrinkling:
- Always choose more whole-grains, less sugar or refined grains
- Cook using moist heat, shorter cooking times and lower temperatures
- Use an acid-based marinade like lemon juice or vinegar
Just remember that variety is the spice of life, so include a diverse set of grains to keep things interesting. Try switching your usual refined grains for the whole-grain alternatives - like white rice for wild rice, or brown bread for whole-grain bread. Also choosing a whole-grain snack is another easy way to eat more grains. Snack options like popcorn (preferably homemade), or oat pancakes, muffins, or cookies are a great way to enhance your diet. You should also try something new since the variety of grains on the market is growing, play around with different varieties of quinoa, bulgur, spelt, and teff. Each has a unique and often nutty flavour.
3. Whole-grains for good gut-health
Did you know that you can also get your grain option from fruit, vegetables and legumes that are packed with fibre? Fibre can influence whether you have good or bad gut health - its function of fibre in your body extends beyond regular bowel movements. In fact, the better your gut is functioning, the greater your absorption of nutrients will be - like protein needed for muscle growth and development.
Fibre also encourages the slow digestion of carbohydrates, providing you with a steady supply of energy and keeping you fuller for longer. So you wouldn't experience an energy crash while you train. So don't forget about the importance of fibre as a core part of your exercise routine.
Be careful of highly processed, sugary foods because they are not only lacking in much-needed nutrients but fibre as well. Fibre, protein and fats all have the ability to increase feelings of satiety, helping you feel fuller for longer. Fibre can be found in a number of food sources like whole-grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In fact, adults should be aiming for at least 30g of fibre per day, and remember the more the merrier!
4. Whole-grains for muscle growth and development
Most plant-proteins don’t contain all nine of the essential amino acids, however, whole-grains like quinoa and buckwheat do. So, 1 cup of quinoa will give you about 8g of protein. For those who are not using meat as your primary protein source, varying your plant-proteins throughout the day can still provide you with all the indispensable amino acids needed for muscle growth and development. Plant-based protein is also not just good for the environment, but also contains fibre, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and phytochemicals.
A diet rich in whole-grains has also been linked to a reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Because whole-grains are packed with fibre they have the ability to:
- Slow the release of carbs for better glycemic control.
- Bind fats in the gut, removing them and improving your lipid profile.
- Encourage regular bowel movements and improve the health of your colon.
Those who are genetically at risk of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol should aim for a minimum of 60-90g of whole-grains per day. So take a DNA test and get insights into your disease and cancer risks.
5. Whole-grains for cognitive function
Did you know that eating at least 3 servings per day of whole-grains is linked to a 53% lower risk of developing dementia?
Whole-grains as within a diet filled with nuts, seeds, legumes, fruit and vegetables, and lower in red and processed meats, and fried foods has been linked with better cognitive function. As such, these foods have been appropriately called neuroprotective.
So, if you’re genetically predisposed to dementia later in life, have some grains that can help you improve your cognitive function. But if you’re not aware of your risks yet, you can take our CircleDNA test to find out while it's still early so you can take much-needed measures.
Still needing more reasons to dip into the grains?
Lastly, whole-grains are easy to cook in bulk and freeze - If you can cook rice, you can cook any whole-grain! Depending on the type of whole-grain, it may take a mere 10 min to prepare bulgur, whereas buckwheat may take 60min to cook. One cup of a whole-grain may require between 2-4 cups of water, and if you are looking to flavour your whole-grains, substitute the water for coconut water or low sodium stock.
Regardless of the prep time, always cook in bulk. Cooked whole-grains can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days, or in the freezer for a couple of months. Simply reheat and serve later as a quick side-dish. this tip is especially helpful for busy moms and those busy juggling life and work.
You can also get your hands on our Diet fit test for a personalised meal plan that works just for your genetic makeup. This will take the guesswork out of your nutritional journey, we are here to help.