Grains food group mythbusters

Read through the statements on this page to discover how various myths about grain (cereal) foods (mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties) are debunked with scientific evidence.

Myth

Wholegrains cause inflammation.

Busted

Wholegrains are part of the solution, not the problem, when it comes to inflammation. This is important as inflammation has been linked to many disease states including heart disease and cancer. Research has shown that eating a cup of wholegrain barley or brown rice (or a combination of the two) per day for as little as four weeks can increase the “good” bacteria in your stomach that fight inflammation, rather than cause it.1

Myth

All grains make your blood sugar levels spike.

Busted

Certain foods high in refined and highly processed grains and sugar tend to have a high glycaemic index (GI) rating, causing blood sugar levels to spike and then quickly plummet, which can leave you energy depleted and can damage cells in your body. Virtually all intact wholegrains, however, such as wholegrain barley, brown rice and buckwheat, have a low GI score and provide steady, slow release of glucose to the body as well as keeping you fuller for longer, helping with weight management.2

Myth

Wheat causes weight gain.

Busted

Like any food, eating too much of it can lead to weight gain, however, there is little evidence to suggest that wheat is specifically to blame. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends enjoying wholegrains as part of a healthy balanced diet. Wholegrain breads and cereals can actually be an effective part of any weight loss program. They take longer to digest and are high in fibre, which creates a feeling of fullness and discourages overeating.3

Myth

Eliminating wheat from the diet cures diabetes.

Busted

Eliminating wheat from the diet will not cure diabetes. However, evidence shows that a high intake of wholegrains reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes as much as 21–30%. Cereals and wholegrain foods have also been found to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and colon cancer and assist in the maintenance of the digestive system.5,6 The overconsumption of any food can lead to weight gain and glucose abnormalities, whether or not wheat is a part of your diet. The best health outcomes result from a healthy balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from the five food groups. 

Myth

A gluten-free diet is healthier.

Busted

Gluten is one of many proteins in wheat, barley, oats and rye. In some people it can be a trigger for symptoms including bloating, pain and tiredness. For those diagnosed by a health professional with the serious condition of coeliac disease, the only remedy is lifelong avoidance of gluten. For others, the decision to adopt a diet devoid of this protein is because they think it is a healthy thing to do. However, the gluten-free diet is restrictive, presents challenges when eating out and can be significantly more expensive than that of a standard diet. It can also be nutritionally inadequate, especially in fibre and B-vitamins. Long-term restrictive diets, particularly avoidance of wheat- and gluten-based products, are likely to have health implications given their important role in bowel health. Before patients embark on a gluten-free diet, coeliac disease should be ruled out. For further dietary advice, refer to an Accredited Practising Dietitian.7





1 Oldways Wholegrain Council. Myths Busted [Internet]. Oldways Wholegrain Council, Boston, 2013. Available: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/newsroom/myths-busted

2 Oldways Wholegrain Council. Myths Busted [Internet]. Oldways Wholegrain Council, Boston, 2013. Available: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/newsroom/myths-busted

3 National Health and Medical Research Council. Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties [Internet]. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2015. Available: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/grain-cereal-foods-mostly-wholegrain-and-or-high-cereal-fibre

4 Oldways Wholegrain Council. Myths Busted [Internet]. Oldways Wholegrain Council, Boston, 2013. Available: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/newsroom/myths-busted

5 National Health and Medical Research Council. Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties [Internet]. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2015. Available: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/grain-cereal-foods-mostly-wholegrain-and-or-high-cereal-fibre

6 Oldways Wholegrain Council. Myths Busted [Internet]. Oldways Wholegrain Council, Boston, 2013. Available: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/newsroom/myths-busted

7 Catherine Saxelby’s Food Watch. 7 reasons why gluten-free doesn’t mean healthy [Internet]. Available: http://foodwatch.com.au/blog/in-the-news/item/7-reasons-why-gluten-free-doesn-t-mean-healthy-2.html