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Whole Grain Benefits

How to Keep Your Gut Healthy All Year



Fall will come before we know it and one of the best things about the season is the food. It’s time to go to farm stalls to buy freshly roasted acorn squash halves, pick pumpkins, and drink back country cider. Seasonal eating has its advantages. Not only does food taste better when it’s in season, it can also unexpectedly help keep your intestines healthy.

Why is gut health so important?

First and foremost, why is gut health important? Our bodies are home to trillions of bacteria, collectively known as the microbiome. While bacteria can sound the alarm and think of a dirty kitchen counter, a lot of these bacteria are good. And there is a lot of that. We have around 40 trillion bacterial cells in our bodies and only 30 trillion human cells, and they are mostly found in our intestines and on our skin. And the thousands of types of bacteria that live in our gut are part of our gut microbiome.

Most of these microorganisms – “good” bacteria – are extremely important to our health and have been since the dawn of mankind. A large part of our immune system resides in our intestines. The way you take care of it can also affect how often you get sick during the flu season and year round. This is because a healthy gut bacteria population usually means a strong lining (lining of the gut) that helps keep harmful microbes at bay.

The more diverse the bacteria in your gut the better, and the variety of microbes can change depending on what you eat, where you live, whether you have pets, how much you move around, and more. And it turns out that eating in season can lead to better gut health. (Hello, fall. Take me to the apple orchard quickly.)

Studies have shown that groups that eat more seasonally tend to have a diverse gut microbiome. | istetiana / Getty

Wait, so can eating in season help keep your colon healthy?

Seasonal eating means eating foods that have peaked, typically around harvest time. To get the best feeling for the season, visit your local farmers market. In the fall, you will likely find an abundance of pumpkins and apples; Brussels sprouts and pears (or the rare pomegranate) in winter; Peas, radishes and rhubarb in spring and corn, zucchini, berries and stone fruits in summer.

A 2017 study of the Hadza people (a group of hunters and gatherers in Tanzania) found that their gut microbiome fluctuates seasonally. This is because their diet consists mainly of seasonal foods found in the forest. Researchers compared the Hadza people’s microbiome with hunter-gatherer groups in other countries, including Venezuela and Peru. Interestingly, the traditional hunter-gatherer groups had more diverse microbiomes in the rainy season, when berries are available, than in the dry season, when their diet was meat-heavy.

Lawrence David, an associate professor at Duke University who studies the microbiome, told NPR that this study “suggests that the changes in the microbiome observed in developed countries may not be permanent – that they are caused by changes in the Human nutrition could be reversible ”.

In other words, we can potentially improve our gut health by changing our diet.

It is true that on a Western diet, you can eat seasonally. But unfortunately, many of us don’t even eat enough fruits and vegetables. Compared to the Hadza in the study, the average Western diet is low in fiber and high in saturated fats and refined sugars. All of this, in one way or another, can result in a less diverse microbiome.

Long story short: eat your fruits and vegetables, and if possible, seasonally. Not only do foods taste better when in season, but they are also richer in nutrients, as foods that need to mature out of season (a common industry practice) have less time to absorb vitamins and minerals. Seasonal produce is also often cheaper, and if you are lucky enough to live near a farmers market, buy food that has a lower carbon footprint than products shipped across national and national borders.

So take a page from the Hadza playbook and try to adapt your diet to the seasons by emphasizing seasonal produce and local foods to protect your microbes and give them the support they need to really thrive. Here’s how you can eat seasonally to maintain your gut health in the fall:

Eat prebiotic foods

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that nourishes the good bacteria in your intestines and helps your digestive system function better. Our body cannot digest this fiber. Instead, they migrate to our lower digestive tract, where they feed our microbiome.

Many foods are considered prebiotics. In the fall, opt for seasonal products such as apples, Jerusalem artichokes and cabbage. Choose organic products if they are accessible to you. One study found that organic products contain more diverse bacteria than their conventional counterparts. Onions, garlic, and shallots are also prebiotics, as are hearty legumes that make stews and curries warm, such as chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans. Add high fiber carbohydrates to your meal by building a recipe around prebiotic grains like oats (try our easy overnight cinnamon apple oatmeal) and barley.

You can also get prebiotics through dietary supplements.

Sourdough bread is a fermented foodEating fermented foods is one of the most famous ways to keep your gut healthy and happy. | Marta Dzedyshko / Pexels

… and probiotic foods. (Ferment, ferment, ferment!)

The process of fermentation has been used by humans for millennia and the foods are incredibly diverse. Fermented foods that are loaded with good, probiotic bacteria are easier to digest. They also make it easier for our body to absorb nutrients. Because they contain probiotics, fermented foods are also good for our intestines.

Finding fermented foods is easy. Sauerkraut, sourdough bread and non-dairy yogurt are some of the most common types you can find in supermarkets. And probiotic drinks like kombucha are growing in popularity. You might also find kimchi, miso, and tempeh.

But if you have the bandwidth, it’s worth making your own.

Lower your sugar intake

One study found that consuming lots of refined sugar can result in fewer types of good bacteria living in your gut. This can lead to inflammation over time. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to deny yourself the occasional sweet treat. Just think about your sugar intake. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020-2025 recommend that added sugar make up less than 10 percent of your daily caloric intake.

Whole wheat pasta is often considered whole wheat pastaEating whole grains on a regular basis is another way to keep your intestines healthy. | Westend61 / Getty

Get the whole grains

Whole grains are the grains with all three parts intact: the endosperm, the germ, and the bran. This is in contrast to refined grains that only have the endosperm. Whole grain products are rice, barley, oats, teff, fonio, buckwheat and quinoa. Whole grain noodles and noodles also often contain servings of whole grain products. Studies have shown that people who regularly consume whole grains have a more diverse gut microbiome.

Move your body

If the weather changes, so could your exercise program. (Say goodbye to the outdoor runner I’ll never be.) But exercising regularly can also help your gut. A review of studies found that low-intensity exercise (physical activity that keeps your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes). Staying outdoors can also enrich microbial diversity and reduce inflammation. Pick a routine that you enjoy, be it biking, jogging, hiking, yoga, weight lifting, or whatever gets you moving.

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Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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