Whole grain products are usually considered beneficial as they are low in glycemic index, rich in fibre and nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins and phytonutrients. Refined flour, on the other hand, has been associated with inducing a host of health issues including obesity. Experts at the Weizmann Institute conducted a clinical trial with 20 healthy individuals who were divided in two groups. Half of the participants were assigned to consume an increased amount of processed, packaged white bread for a week while the other half consumed an increased amount of whole wheat sourdough. After two weeks their diets were reversed.
"The initial finding was very much contrary to our expectation. There were no clinically significant differences between the effects of these two types of bread on any of the parameters that we measured," Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute was quoted by PTI.
Interestingly, nearly half of the participants responded well to processed white bread while the other half found brown bread consumption favourable to their health. Even the glycemic response differed from person to person. Experts monitored the participants for any change in their glucose levels, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, gut microbiome, levels of essential micronutrients like calcium, magnesium and iron among others.
The research is an attempt to understand the effects of specific food items on different people depending on their gut microbiome. The study can be seen as a departure from the idea of 'one diet fits all' toward a more rational approach with respect diet and nutrition.
"First of all, whole wheat breads are not necessarily brown. You might get brown bread but still be eating maida. What we press for is to make people include enough whole grains in their daily diet. Having refined flour in limited quantity is not bad till the time you are having enough whole grains and lapping your white bread sandwich with enough veggies. A diet full of refined products and stripped off essential nutrition is an issue. One must have at least 3-4 serving of whole grains in a day. Yes, everybody is different with respect to health and genetic makeup, your diet must be a mix of all the essential nutrients via food items that suit you the best," Dr. Rupali Datta, ex-clinical nutritionist, Fortis Hopsital, Delhi.