New international research has explained why oats may be suitable for people with coeliac disease and gluten intolerance. Read more
Starting your day with a bowl of hot organic oatmeal can benefit your health in many ways. One can find wide varieties of oats in the grocery stores or supermarkets such as whole grain oats, rolled oats, oats flour, steel-cut oats and Scottish oats. Read more
Loved or hated, the humble oat could be the new superfood for cancer patients as international research shows a diet rich in fibre could significantly reduce radiation-induced gut inflammation.
Conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Lund University and the University of South Australia, the pre-clinical study found that dietary oat bran can offset chronic gastrointestinal damage caused by radiotherapy, contradicting long-held clinical recommendations.
Gastroenterology and oncology researcher UniSA’s Dr Andrea Stringer said the research provides critical new insights for radiology patients.
“Cancer patients are often advised to follow a restricted fibre diet. This is because a diet high in fibre is believed to exacerbate bloating and diarrhoea – both common side effects of radiotherapy,” Stringer said. “Yet, this advice is not unequivocally evidence-based, with insufficient fibre potentially being counterproductive and exacerbating gastrointestinal toxicity.
“Our study compared the effects of high-fibre and no-fibre diets, finding that a fibre-free diet is actually worse for subjects undergoing radiotherapy treatment.
“A diet without fibre generates inflammatory cytokines, which are present for a long time following radiation, resulting in increased inflammation of the digestive system.
“Conversely, a fibre-rich diet decreases the presence of cytokines to reduce radiation-induced inflammation, both in the short and the long term.”
Intestinal issues following radiotherapy are problematic for many cancer survivors.
“In Europe, approximately one million pelvic-organ cancer survivors suffer from compromised intestinal health due to radiation-induced gastrointestinal symptoms,” Dr Stringer says. “This is also commonplace in Australia and around the world with no immediate cure or effective treatment.
“If we can prevent some of inflammation resulting from radiation simply by adjusting dietary fibre levels, we could improve long-term, and possibly life-long, intestinal health among cancer survivors.”
Australian cereal brand Sunsol is expanding its popular breakfast offering with the launch of new Sunsol Oats.
Nutritious Sunsol Oats are a good source of fibre, protein, vitamin B1 and contain beta-glucan to help reduce blood cholesterol. As part of a healthy diet low in saturated fat, 3g of beta-glucan is required each day to help lower cholesterol re-absorption.
The new Sunsol Oats varieties also provide consumers a choice of three different textures in firm, medium and soft, as well as quick cooking times to cater to a range of breakfast preferences and busy lifestyles.
Available in convenient 500g packs, the Sunsol Oats varieties have a 12-month shelf life and feature a contemporary upright pack design with the new ‘Australian Grown and Packed’ country of origin labelling. In addition, a shelf-ready carton makes the range easy to merchandise.
Australian owned by Select Harvests, Sunsol offers products that are produced to the highest quality standards. Using a combination of natural ingredients including quality grains, fruits, nuts and seeds, the Sunsol range also includes great tasting and healthy muesli mixes.
Cereal Partners Australia (CPA), the manufacturer and distributor of Uncle Tobys brand oats, has paid penalties of $32,400 in relation to alleged false or misleading representations about the protein content of certain Uncle Tobys brand oats products. This followed the issue of three infringement notices by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The packaging of Uncle Tobys ‘Quick Sachets’ oats contained the statement ‘Natural Source of Protein* Superfood’, and the packaging of Uncle Tobys ‘Traditional Oats’ contained the statement ‘Naturally Rich in Protein* Superfood’. The product packaging in each case contained the disclaimer “*when prepared with [1/2 or 2/3] cup of skim milk”, which appeared in fine print below the misleading statements.
These representations were also made in a television commercial promoting Uncle Tobys oats products, which contained a similar fine print disclaimer.
The ACCC alleged that by: combining the words ‘natural source’ / ‘naturally rich’, ‘protein’ and ‘superfood’ in the statements on the packaging and in a television commercial; and presenting the word ‘protein’ prominently in the centre of the front of the packet in a bright colour and in large font sizes,cCPA made false or misleading representations that the oats in these Uncle Tobys products contained a significant amount of protein, when this is not the case.
“Consumers should be able to purchase food products based on accurate health and composition claims. While the ACCC acknowledges that oats have many health benefits, on their own they are not high in protein, contrary to the representations made about these Uncle Tobys products,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“Business should be aware that a fine print disclaimer is insufficient to correct or qualify a prominent representation on packaging or in advertising that is false or misleading.”
At different times, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, sugar and protein have all been targeted as “bad” dietary factors. Right now the focus seems to have shifted to gluten: a protein found in cereal grains, especially wheat but also rye, barley and oats.
For a small proportion of consumers such as those diagnosed with coeliac disease or wheat allergy, the avoidance of wheat and other gluten-containing foods is essential. Symptoms for sufferers can include nausea, vomiting, cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue and even very serious conditions such as liver disease.
The prevalence in the population of coeliac disease and wheat allergy, while significant, sits between 1-2%.
But consumer foods labelled as either “gluten-free” or “lactose-free” are growing. And restrictive diets such as paleo – which advocates eliminating grain and dairy products – are also growing in popularity. This suggests a lot more people are making the choice to go gluten- or wheat-free over and above those with a diagnosed allergy.
To understand more about this trend CSIRO conducted a nationwide survey of nearly 1,200 people selected at random from the Australian electoral roll. The aim of the research was not only to quantify the prevalence of wheat avoidance in Australia but also to understand why they made this decision.
Wheat avoidance in Australia
The survey revealed that as many as one in ten Australian adults, or approximately 1.8 million people, were avoiding or limiting their consumption of wheat-based products. Women were more likely to be avoiding wheat than men.
The survey also revealed that more than half (53%) of those who were avoiding wheat were also avoiding dairy-based foods.
Why is this an issue? According to current Australian Dietary Guidelines, grain- and dairy-based foods are important components of a balanced diet. They contribute significantly to the daily dietary fibre and calcium intake of both adults and children. They also deliver other important nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals, and if eating whole grain, resistant starch.
So why are people choosing to avoid wheat?
The reasons behind this decision are complex. Some respondents reported that they were avoiding wheat due to a diagnosis of coeliac disease (1.1%), or because a family member has been diagnosed with coeliac disease. Others stated they were avoiding wheat for weight-control or taste preferences.
However, the vast majority of the survey’s wheat-avoiding respondents – which equates to 7% of non-coeliac Australians – were avoiding wheat-containing foods to manage a range of adverse symptoms they attributed to the consumption of these products. Symptoms were mostly gastrointestinal in nature (bloating, wind and abdominal cramps) but also included fatigue/tiredness.
When asked if they had any formal diagnosis, including that of an intolerance, allergy or coeliac disease, which required them to avoid wheat, most (84%) of these symptomatic individuals said no.
So what sources are people relying on when it comes to making decisions such as avoiding wheat?
There is a great deal of information that links the consumption of specific foods to adverse symptoms. According to our data, those who decide to eliminate wheat tend to do so based on advice from sources such as complementary practitioners like naturopaths, family, friends, the media and to a lesser extent their GP or a medical specialist.
Is wheat really so bad?
Until recently it was thought that gluten was only really a problem for individuals with coeliac disease. Our findings, plus the extraordinary rise in popularity of the gluten-free diet in Australia and elsewhere, suggest that, apart from coeliac disease and wheat allergy, other conditions associated with the ingestion of wheat are emerging as health care concerns.
Currently, the driver of most of the research activity in this area is the concept of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). NCGS is defined as adverse (but not allergic) reactions to the consumption of gluten, where gastrointestinal symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet.
Many aspects of NCGS remain unclear, including how prevalent it is, how it presents itself, the variation in symptoms and how to treat it. There is also considerable debate as to whether it is in fact gluten or some other component of wheat that triggers the reported symptoms.
Fructans, for example, are short-chain carbohydrates which are found in wheat-based products. For a proportion of the general population, fructans, along with other short-chain carbohydrates (collectively called FODMAPS), can trigger symptoms such as bloating, wind or cramps by holding water in the gut or through the rapid production of gas by intestinal bacteria.
For these people, finding out what is actually causing their symptoms can be difficult because they’re most likely avoiding more than one dietary component at a time.
Until we know more, there’s a risk that a significant proportion of Australians are undertaking diets that are unnecessarily restrictive and potentially creating nutritional imbalances.
That the majority of those with symptoms appear to be bypassing conventional medical advice is also of concern. This means more serious clinical conditions could be going undetected.