Monday, November 10, 2014

Oat Study! Full text...

One of the abstracts I had in the RS/Gut bug study list was from a paper examining oats and gut health...I found the full text and would like to share some thoughts.

Whole Grains, Oats, and Gut Microbiota

First off, I have to point out that this paper was made possible with a grant from Quaker Oats.  I always hate seeing things like that because I am always telling people to 'follow the money,' and in this case it leads back to this guy:

Looking over the paper, it seems to agree with things I have read about gut health and it makes me feel a bit more confident to recommend oats as part of a gut-friendly diet.

Maybe watch this first, to get you in the mood (Thanks, Newbie!).

The abstract we saw last week:

The gut microbiota plays important roles in proper gut function and can contribute to or help prevent disease. Whole grains, including oats, constitute important sources of nutrients for the gut microbiota and contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. In particular, whole grains provide NSP and resistant starch, unsaturated TAG and complex lipids, and phenolics. The composition of these constituents is unique in oats compared with other whole grains. Therefore, oats may contribute distinctive effects on gut health relative to other grains. Studies designed to determine these effects may uncover new human-health benefits of oat consumption.


First, the paper discussed whole grains.  Whole grains I can deal with.  Weston A. Price loved whole grains and the WAPF recommends them as well.  The problem with whole grains has been a mental one for me, coming from a Paleo many times have we heard that grain is not human food, only animal food, and that grains "don't want to be eaten" so they have devised strategies to prevent animals from eating them? 

I have however loosened my stance on grains and have been eating oats, buckwheat, and some others the last couple of years.

On whole grains:

Although the principal non-digestible components in whole grains are cross-linked arabinoxylan and cellulose (see online supplementary Table S1) – substrates that are generally considered poor for gut microbial fermentation – whole grains have the potential to play an important role in maintaining a healthy gut microbiota. Two human trials have suggested a bifidogenic effect from the consumption of whole-grain cereals(6,7). Some strains of Bifidobacterium have been reported in the literature as markers of a healthy gut microbiota(3). Other studies have shown increases in butyrate-producing bacteria, including Roseburia, Eubacterium rectale and the Clostridium leptum group (which includes Faecalibacterium prausnitzii)(11,12).

  They don't really define "whole grains" in the paper, they mention "cereal" grains which are grains like wheat, barley, corn, and oats.  I don't care what it says in this paper, though, I won't be rushing out to buy any wheat soon!  The paper mentions the three big health benefits of whole grains being fiber, lipids, and phenolics (antioxidants).

Then the paper goes on to discuss oats in great detail.  Some of this I knew and some was quite new. 

One of the most beneficial aspects of oats may be their Beta-Glucan content, but also a whopping 15% RS in thick-cut oats. If you remember from lots of the earlier talk on RS, it's made more effective when eating it alongside other fiber types, so in this respect, oatmeal should be a fantastic food for healthy guts.

I won't bore you with a lengthy discussion on the fiber found in oats, please have a read if you are curious...but I would like to bore you with this paragraph on the phenolics found in oats.  Phenolics are antioxidants:

While the majority of phenolics in oats are bound ferulic acid, which is similar to other whole grains, oats also contain some unique phenolics including avenacosylates, avenacins and avenanthramides. Avenacosylates are esters of ferulic or caffeic acid with a long-chain wax alcohol (policosanol) and are present in oats at about 50–200mg ferulic acid equivalents/kg(9). The avenacins are pentacyclic triterpene alcohol glycosides containing esters of aminophenolic or benzoic acid(9). Avenanthramides are conjugates of a phenylpropanoid with anthranilic acid or 5-hydroxy anthranilic acid and are present in oats in widely varying concentrations similar to the avenocosylates(9). It is likely that these compounds are metabolised by the gut microbiota, but this has not been reported in detail(71). Some data suggest that they may function as anti-inflammatory molecules and protect the gut mucosa by modulating NF-kB activation(72).

I did a little digging into the avenacins found these plant chemicals are used to repel microbial pests from the growing oats and have an anti-fungal effect.  It is very likely that avenacins result in a healthier gut.  The avenanthramides are even more interesting!  One study says:

Oats are known to be a healthy food for the heart due mainly to their high beta-glucan content. In addition, they contain more than 20 unique polyphenols, avenanthramides, which have shown strong antioxidant activity in vitro and in vivo. The polyphenols of oats have also recently been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and anti-itching activity, which may provide additional protection against coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and skin irritation

But caution needs to be taken as some people may be sensitive to these compounds:

Coeliac disease (celiac disease) is often associated with the ingestion of wheat, or more specifically, a group of proteins called prolamins, including gluten. Oats lack many of the prolamins found in wheat, but do contain avenin. Avenin is toxic to the intestinal mucosa of avenin-sensitive individuals, and can trigger a reaction in these coeliacs. (Wikipedia) 

Some more on Avenacins (hattip, Gemma):

Glycosyltransferases from Oat (Avena) Implicated in the Acylation of Avenacins
Plants produce a huge array of specialized metabolites that have important functions in defense against biotic and abiotic stresses. Many of these compounds are glycosylated by family 1 glycosyltransferases (GTs). Oats (Avena spp.) make root-derived antimicrobial triterpenes (avenacins) that provide protection against soil-borne diseases. The ability to synthesize avenacins has evolved since the divergence of oats from other cereals and grasses.  

Compromised disease resistance in saponin-deficient plants

This study investigates the role of saponins, an important group of preformed plant secondary metabolites, in protecting plants against fungal attack. Saponins are glycosylated triterpenoid, steroid, or steroidal alkaloid molecules that occur constitutively in many plant species (1, 1517). Because many saponins have potent antifungal activity and are often present at high levels in healthy plants, these molecules have been implicated as antimicrobial phytoprotectants (1, 3, 1517). Direct genetic evidence for this is, however, lacking. This work involves a family of four structurally related triterpenoid saponins, avenacins A-1, B-1, A-2, and B-2, found in the roots of oat (Avena spp.) (18, 19) (Fig. ​(Fig.1).1). These saponins have been implicated as determinants of the resistance of oats to the root-infecting fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici (20), which causes “take-all” disease of wheat and barley but is unable to infect oats. 

The conclusion from this Quaker Oat funded paper does give good reasons to include oats in a healthy diet:

 Oats are a unique whole grain that may contribute distinctive effects on the gut microbiota. These effects could be due to the high b-glucan content, the high lipid content or the unique antioxidant profile. b-Glucan fermentation could contribute to the hypocholesterolaemic properties of oats(25). Furthermore, b-glucan may slow the rate of starch digestion and help increase the RS content of oats relative to other grains that are low in b-glucan(65,66). Oat lipids and antioxidants have not been studied in relation to gut health, but research in other whole grains suggests that they influence the types of bacteria that make up the microbiota and impact on host health(47,55,72). The microbiota and gut health are at the intersection of emerging research, particularly when considering the demonstrated and possible health implications of whole grains and dietary fibre that are identified in oats.

The Downside of Oats

As I write this, I keep thinking there are some good reasons that the paleo community shunned the oat.  I took a look at Mark's Daily Apple Oat Blog, and saw that the only reason they could come up with was phytic acid.  Phytic acid has been implicated in binding with minerals like zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesuim causing deficiencies in lab studies.  Phytic acid is one of the paleo/Perfect Health Diet 'antinutrients' you hear about frequently. About the only I could find that Paul Jaminet said about phytic acid is:

Phytic acid is also not all that dangerous. It is a mineral chelator, which leads to minerals being excreted rather than absorbed. The primary risk is that it will induce a mineral deficiency. Because phytic acid preferentially binds iron, which can be dangerous, some advocate its supplementation.
We don’t agree with that, but we don’t consider the small amount of phytic acid in rice to be dangerous, especially given that we recommend a mineral-rich diet and supplementation with both a multivitamin and specific key minerals.

 The Weston A. Price Foundation had a lengthy discussion on phytic acid, saying about oats:

Oats contain very little phytase, especially after commercial heat treatment, and require a very long preparation period to completely reduce phytic acid levels. Soaking oats at 77 degrees F for 16 hours resulted in no reduction of phytic acid, nor did germination for up to three days at this temperature.63 However, malting (sprouting) oats for five days at 52 degrees F and then soaking for 17 hours at 120 degrees F removes 98 percent of phytates. Adding malted rye further enhances oat phytate reduction.64 Without initial germination, even a five-day soaking at a warm temperature in acidic liquid may result in an insignificant reduction in phytate due to the low phytase content of oats. On the plus side, the process of rolling oats removes a at least part of the bran, where a large portion of the phytic acid resides.
How do we square what we know about oats with the fact that oats were a staple in the diet of the Scots and Gaelic islanders, a people known for their robust good health and freedom from tooth decay? For one thing, high amounts of vitamin D from cod’s liver and other sources, helps prevent calcium losses from the high oat diet. Absorbable calcium from raw dairy products, consumed in abundance on mainland Scotland, provides additional protection.
In addition, it is likely that a good part of the phytase remained in the oats of yore, which partially germinated in stacks left for a period in the field, were not heat treated and were hand rolled immediately prior to preparation. And some Scottish and Gaelic recipes do call for a long fermentation of oats before and even after they are cooked.
Unprocessed Irish or Scottish oats, which have not been heated to high temperatures, are availabile in some health food stores and on the internet. One study found that unheated oats had the same phytase activity as wheat.65 They should be soaked in acidulated water for as long as twenty-four hours on top of a hot plate to keep them at about 100 degrees F. This will reduce a part of the phytic acid as well as the levels of other anti-nutrients, and result in a more digestible product. Overnight fermenting of rolled oats using a rye starter—or even with the addition of a small amount of fresh rye flour—may result in a fairly decent reduction of phytate levels. It is unclear whether heat-treated oats are healthy to eat regularly
From the same WAPF link as above, here is a table showing relative amounts of phytic acid in some common foods:

As a percentage of dry weight
Sesame seed flour5.365.36
Brazil nuts1.976.34
Oat meal0.892.40
Beans, pinto2.382.38
Soy protein concentrate1.242.17
Wheat flour0.251.37
Soy beverage1.241.24
Wheat germ0.081.14
Whole wheat bread0.431.05
Brown rice0.840.99
Polished rice0.140.60

I'm not sure why the disparity between "oats" and "oatmeal," though.

So, in making up your mind about oats, I'll throw another wrench in the works...some say that phytic acid actually may be beneficial!  Looking at Figure 1, I see lots of foods that have been consumed by many cultures known for their great health.  And when I Googled, "Phytic Acid Beneficial" I came up with many papers saying that phytic acid is nothing to worry about, and in fact is beneficial!

From: The role of phytic acid in legumes: antinutrient or beneficial function?

This review describes the present state of knowledge about phytic acid (phytate), which is often present in legume seeds. The antinutritional effects of phytic acid primarily relate to the strong chelating associated with its six reactive phosphate groups. Its ability to complex with proteins and particularly with minerals has been a subject of investigation from chemical and nutritional viewpoints. The hydrolysis of phytate into inositol and phosphates or phosphoric acid occurs as a result of phytase or nonenzymatic cleavage. Enzymes capable of hydrolysing phytates are widely distributed in micro-organisms, plants and animals. Phytases act in a stepwise manner to catalyse the hydrolysis of phytic acid. To reduce or eliminate the chelating ability of phytate, dephosphorylation of hexa- and penta-phosphate forms is essential since a high degree of phosphorylation is necessary to bind minerals. There are several methods of decreasing the inhibitory effect of phytic acid on mineral absorption (cooking, germination, fermentation, soaking, autolysis). Nevertheless, inositol hexaphosphate is receiving increased attention owing to its role in cancer prevention and/or therapy and its hypocholesterolaemic effect.

Iinositol hexaphosphate is the "official" name for phytic acid.  And from we learn:


Inositol Hexaphosphate
Other common name(s): IP6, IP-6, InsP-6, inositol, phytic acid, phytate, myo-inositol hexaphosphate
Scientific/medical name(s): inositol-1,2,3,4,5,6-hexakisphosphate

Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) is a chemical found in beans, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, wheat bran, and other high-fiber foods. It is converted into compounds in the body that are used by cells to relay outside messages to the cell nucleus. IP6 also aids the body in its use, or metabolism, of calcium and other minerals. 
And also:

All of the evidence regarding the anti-cancer effects of IP6 has come from laboratory cell cultures and animal studies. Laboratory studies of cell cultures have shown that IP6 may help put cancer cells on a path toward normal cell death and may help keep them from spreading to other parts of the body. It may also affect the growth of blood vessels that supply the tumor and the immune system in general. These studies have shown IP6 may have activity against cancer of the pancreas, breast, prostate, colon, and other types of cancer. Results of some studies in cells have also suggested that IP6 may help certain chemotherapy or hormone therapy drugs work better.
Studies in animals have found that supplementing the animals’ diets with IP6 may help prevent tumors from forming in the prostate, lung, colon, skin, and other areas. While animal and laboratory studies may show a certain compound holds promise as a helpful treatment, further studies are needed to find out if the results apply to humans. One preliminary human study suggested that IP6 may cause regression of precancerous lung changes in smokers. IP6 has not yet been studied in humans as a treatment for cancer.
One small study done in Croatia found that IP6 helped ease treatment side effects for women getting chemotherapy for breast cancer. The women getting IP6 also scored higher on quality-of-life assessments than women not getting IP6. But only 14 women were included in this study (7 of whom got IP6), so more studies of this possible role for IP6 are needed.
Inositol hexaphosphate and similar chemicals have also been studied for treating polycystic ovary syndrome, panic disorders, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorders, Alzheimer disease, post-traumatic stress disorders, and depression. Researchers have reached no firm conclusions about its impact on these conditions.

So, really, what's not to like about oats?  Resistant Starch, Beta-Glucans, insoluble fiber, healthy fats, and phytic acid in smaller amounts than many other foods considered 'paleo' and healthy. And they look pretty good nutrition-wise, too.  From Wikipedia:

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,628 kJ (389 kcal)
66.3 g
Dietary fibre10.6 g
6.9 g
16.9 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.763 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.139 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.961 mg
1.349 mg
Folate (B9)
56 μg
Trace metals
54 mg
5 mg
177 mg
4.9 mg
523 mg
429 mg
4 mg
Other constituents
β-glucan (soluble fibre) 4 g
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Let's look at the different types of oats available and see what there is to choose from: 

It appears there are two main ways that oats are processed:  Flaking and Milling.

  • Flaking
"This process uses two large smooth or corrugated rolls spinning at the same speed in opposite directions at a controlled distance. Oat flakes, also known as rolled oats, have many different sizes, thicknesses and other characteristics depending on the size of oat groats passed between the rolls. Typically, the three sizes of steel cut oats are used to make instant, baby and quick rolled oats, whereas whole oat groats are used to make regular, medium and thick rolled oats. Oat flakes range in thickness from 0.36 mm to 1.00 mm."

  • Oat bran milling
"This process takes the oat groats through several roll stands to flatten and separate the bran from the flour (endosperm). The two separate products (flour and bran) get sifted through a gyrating sifter screen to further separate them. The final products are oat bran and debranned oat flour."

Bob's Red Mill sells 23 different kinds of oats from 'Quick Rolled' to 'Thick cut.'  I personally think that just about any kind are fine with a personal preference towards the thick cut types, just because the paper that started this blog said the thicker the oat flakes, the more RS. 

Soaking your oats:

I've also seen much talk about people soaking their oats.  Maybe this is needed, maybe not.  But if you enjoy it that way, it does seem to be a traditional way of preparing oats:


As a whole grain, oats contain a hearty dose of fiber, as well as multiple health-enhancing nutrients, including phosphorous, potassium, manganese and selenium. Whether you eat oat groat, steel-cut oats or rolled oats, soaking them ahead of time softens the oat kernels, which makes them more digestible and produces a rich, creamy blend of tender, moist oats. Mix the soaked oats with a handful of fruit and nuts and eat them cold as muesli. Or warm them on the stove over a medium-low heat for five minutes before serving them as a nutritious, filling breakfast or snack.

The article goes on to describe the soaking process which is simply to measure out the amount of oats you want to eat, mix them with water, milk, yogurt, or fruit juice, and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.  This is the traditional way of preparing muesli as well.

Fermenting Oats:

If you are into fermented foods, oats can be fermented, too!  Lots of studies show that fermentation reduces phytates and gives us a good dose of probiotics: Here, here, and here. (hattip, Gemma)

A good description of how to prepare fermented oats can be found here and here. Basically, just soaking your oats overnight at room temperature should induce some fermentation as it does with beans.  Others recommend mixing the oats with yogurt and soaking overnight at room temperature. The second link shows how to do a more long-term fermentation, a "perpetual soured porridge" as they call it:
  1. Crack whole oat groats into something like a steel-cut oat. It will look like a combination of flour and pieces of whole oats. You can grind it as fine as you’d like, just make sure the oat groats have been broken up and the starchy insides exposed.
  2. Combine a few cups of these (I just use two scoops from our grain bucket, the equivalent of about 2-3 cups) with enough water so that you can stir it easily but it is not too soupy. I use a half gallon jar for this.
  3. You can, optionally, add some whey at this point to kick-start the fermenting process. I did just a couple of tablespoons off of our kefir and it seems to have worked well.
  4. Cover with a cloth or a coffee filter and a rubber band or canning ring. Let sit in a warm place for a few days or until it starts to smell sour and have little bubbles.
I don't have a whole lot of experience eating oats other than buying some thick-cut raw oatmeal and making no-bake cookies or oatmeal.  One of my favorite recipes for an RS snack has been these:

2 Cup(s) granulated sugar
8 Tablespoon(s) (1 stick) margarine
1/2 Cup(s) Low-Fat Milk
1/3 Cup(s) baking cocoa
3 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
In large saucepan, combine sugar, margarine, milk and cocoa. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Continue boiling 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in oats.* Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let stand until firm. Store tightly covered.
Serving Tips: *If using old fashioned oats, cool mixture in saucepan 5 minutes.

This recipe was right from the Quaker Oat's how to "RS-ify" and "Paleo-ize" this recipe!


1 cup coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup or 1/2 cup stevia, etc...
8 Tablespoons of real butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup of Full-Fat Milk
1/2 cup of baking cocoa
1 cup of potato starch
3 cups of thick cut oats
Optional: coconut flakes, peanut butter, vanilla, nuts  

Make this version just like above, but let the hot mixture cool a bit before adding the oats and ensure it is very cool before adding the potato starch. Spoon onto a no-stick pan or waxed paper and put in the fridge overnight.

Bottom-line:  I see no reason to exclude oats from a healthy diet.  Eat them raw or cooked, soaked, feremented, or straight out of the bag.  But as with moderation!

OK, any of you oat-lovers want to come out of the closet now and tell us in the comments how to eat oats?


  1. I usually soak oats or legumes overnight with some buckwheat flour.buckwheat is high in phytase.Higher than rye I think.
    Am i just fooling myself that the phytase enzymes actually help break down the oat phytate ?

    1. No, I think what you are doing has sound, rational science behind it.

    2. yes buckwheat is high in phytase and often used to reduce phytic acid in other foods

  2. Does the RS content get better with cooling similar to potatoes?

    1. Of course! But also, as with potatoes, most RS will be in raw oats. But cooking and cooling will increase RS over just cooked.

      But if you like oatmeal, have a bowl. It's good food and full of other good stuff besides RS.

    2. I really like oatmeal. WIll I get a significant benefit from making a bowl, having it in the fridge overnight and heating it in the morning compared to making a bowl in the morning? Basically cooked RS vs. re-heated RS.

  3. I had been sort of paleo for a couple of years but was suffering unrelenting constipation. Among a few other things, I added oats and oat bran back into my diet and saw great improvements in my gut health- so I am a fan. Plus I live in Ireland so I can get decent oats. I also use psyllium, buckwheat, brown rice, parboiled rice and lots of potatoes and squashes now too, but the oats are pretty much a daily occurence. I realised a lot of the foods I was avoiding on a paleoish diet were high in soluble fibre, which seems to work so well for my gut, whereas too much insoluble causes bloating and constipation.

    1. I just tried my first Irish oats this weekend. They call them steel-cut (as opposed to rolled). They are like little bits and pieces of oats instead of a flattened oat.

      I soaked overnight, then cooked with water for about 20 minutes and ate with butter and honey. They were still a bit chewy, really nice. Much better than the old Instant Oats I grew up with.

  4. I'm a big fan if oats; I eat them every morning. I don't do any special prep. I eat it with oat milk (ground oats and water) as this makes it creamier. Given that a lot of stuff disagrees with me including wheat and maize it's notable that oats don't.

    The reason oat meal has more phytic acid is that the oat meal contains the bran from the outside of the groat whereas oats are the groat minus much of the bran. I'm experimenting with having both as I figure both is more likely to support my gut flora. We'll see at some point what effect all these oats has.

    When I was on calcium and vit D supplement earlier this year (as I was on steroids for colitis) the information said I had to take them at least two hours after certain foods which of course included oats because of the phytic acid. I tend to get most of my minerals in my diet from later in the day which helps minimise this problem. But I do think it's worth knowing about it.

    1. Hey! Fan of your blog! Thanks for the write-up on how to decipher uBiome raw data!

    2. Thanx, and snap!
      I'll be trying to make those oat cookies soon.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I occasionally make variation of the meusili recipe you linked to. I usually add some grated apple, which makes it particularly delicious to me.

    I wonder if there are benefits from the fact that this is not cooked. The doctor who created the recipe thought so.

    1. Sure! Lots of benefits to raw foods. Lots of healthy cultures have eaten muesli over the years. I need to try.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. For those of us with leaky guts, proper preparation appears to be key. While I can eat toasted oatmeal without any problems, cooked and stirred oatmeal, such as porridge, triggers a gluten-like response to the Avenin in the oatmeal.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up! I was surprised to see that celiacs had problems with oats.

    2. Yeah, but the wheat is much worse. And it doesn't stop with just ripping up your insides. It also leads to liver and kidney damage, as well.

      Also, beyond wheat, I am also a1 casein intolerant as well. It took me over 4 weeks to get over the casomorphin[e] withdrawal symptoms. For a long time, I didn't think that anything could be worse than wheat. I was wrong.

  8. This is wonderful news! I love oats, and it sounds like they are one of the few bifido-friendly foods that don't cause bleeding problems (TMI, I know). Maybe I should eat more, although too much of a good thing can sometime make matters worse. My co-op sells gluten free oats for only 1.99/lb (a MUST for my gut). My favorite recipe is pretty simple:

    1/2 c. GF oats
    1. c quinoa milk (the only "milk" I can presently tolerate)
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 t. salt
    1/4 t. vanilla
    8-10 drops stevia or a teaspoon raw honey added after cooling to room temp.

    Bring all ingredients except honey to a boil; cook over low heat about 5 minutes. Let cool if adding honey.

    I think tomorrow I'll cook some oats in water as a bed for my poached eggs.

    Thanks so much for your wonderful blog! :)

    1. Glad I could help you come out of hiding, my oat-eating friend!

      A big bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast is heavenly! Although, today I had buckwheat pancakes for the first time ever...they were gooooood.

  9. Before paleo, I and hubby ate 1 kg (2 lbs) oat porridge in a week with first butter flavoured canola oil and last with coconut oil. I soaked the big oat flakes 24 h and then slow cooked them o/n for breakfast. Then we ate the gelatin like cake whole week from fridge. Those were the days. I might start again but perhaps now in the evening to get the carb loading effect through the night as with rice, potatoes and PS.

    1. So did you fry that chilled gelatin/cake? Or just eat it cold?

    2. Microwaved and then mixed with oil.

  10. YES! Just what I wanted to hear. I love raw rolled oats soaked overnight with grated apple and milk. I think this was Dr Bircher's original recipe for muesli. Before I tried Paleo I used to make it with Soya milk, now I think I will give it a go with coconut milk, it will be extra thick and creamy.....and calorific.... maybe I had better not have it EVERY day.

  11. jeez Tim ,now you got me thinking of adding oats back in my diet,,im envisioning oat flour and buckwheat flour mix for bread,oatmeal in my smoothies,oatmeal in my meatloaf,been surviving with 100% buckwheat bread foe 2 years,oatmeal would open up new epicurean delights,,funny yesterday i read the wasp guidelines to the proper preparations eating grains,,keep up the informative work Tim,,,,,Tim my daughter is taking nursing at the Sudbury university and called me saying that nursing is not going to work for her and that she wants to change curriculum ,,i suggested anything to do with gut health ,,can you suggest any professions related to the microbiome with good job opportunities,,thank you in advance,,,,

    1. Thanks, Leo - I still think that lots of refined flour from any source is not a great long-term plan, but in the whole-grain form, much better. I stay away from all 'gluten-free' snacks and breads as much as possible.

      Fermented flours interest me, though. The buckwheat pancakes I made yesterday were from fermented (soaked overnight) buckwheat flour.

      re: daughter. How about becoming a dietitian? Like Laura Schoenfeld at

      There's a way to really effect people's lives.

    2. will suggest dietician to my daughter,,i soak my buckwheat flour with kefir milk and then make pour in the pan bread,it rises quite a bit after 12 or more hours,i am not a fan of gluten free products,,paleomom has a few recipes using plantain for baking,not the flour but whole plantain,,,

    3. Okay, Tim can we know the exact recipe for those buckwheat pancakes? My husband would love to have some pancakes

    4. It was based off of this:

      But that recipe uses buckwheat kernels, not flour.

      What I did was mix 1 cup buckwheat flour and 2 cups of water and placed in a glass bowl near the woodstove overnight. I think it would have benefitted from a much longer ferment, but it was bubbly and smelled nice after 12 hours. Possibly using kefir or yogurt in the soaking flour would add some extra horsepower as well.

      The mixture was very watery, so I mixed in some more buckwheat four to make it more 'batter-y', of course I added too much, so thinned it back out with milk and two eggs.

      Added some cinnamon and vanilla to the batter also.

      I fried the pancakes in the grease leftover from frying some bacon, they cook up nicely, but nothing like wheat pancakes, you'll need to play with the first few to get it just right. Don't try to flip until they have firmed up nicely (you'll see, lol).

      Served with butter and maple syrup, and the bacon. My wife loved them as did the chickens who got all the practice versions and the leftovers.

    5. You impress me every single day! Buckwheat pancakes with bacon and maple syrup???

      But the traditional Russian version calls for caviar or smoked salmon, sour cream and champagne!

      There are more recipes to be found: keyword "blini"

    6. I told you to bring Andy by for a taste...ended up giving them to the chickens!

      Thanks for the Kresser link. Remember I was complaining that the batter seemed too 'grainy?' When cooked, all that grittiness disappears, but you knew that.

      I see most buckwheat pancake recipes call for adding wheat flour and yeast...not needed. The next batch I may add some green banana flour, though, just to try.

      WHY did they have to put the word WHEAT in buckwheat? That stupid word has kept me scared of this magical seed for years.

    7. Another option for your daughter would be the Nutrition and Nutriceutical Science program at the University of Guelph in the Biology Department.

  12. Hi Tim

    I really enjoyed your article on oats. What did you make of the section in the Quaker paper on fat? It says fat, particularly, saturated fat is bad for the gut microbiome?

    'In particular, diets high in saturated fats have been shown to decrease proportions of beneficial bacteria (45) and decrease microbial diversity'

    Any comment?

    Thanks Rohan

    1. I think I've read enough to make me think that excess PUFA is bad for humans and that saturated fat is not the enemy.

      Here is the study they used to make that statement. Does comparing shifts in mice guts really determine how humans will react? And is it harmful? They are looking at the ratio of fimicutes:bacteroidetes as an indicator of obesity. I think that has been put completely to rest.


      Mammalian gut microbiota have been implicated in a variety of functions including the breakdown of ingested nutrients, the regulation of energy intake and storage, the control of immune system development and activity, and the synthesis of novel chemicals. Previous studies have shown that feeding mammalian hosts a high-fat diet shifts gut bacteria at the phylum level to reduce the ratio of Bacteroidetes-to-Firmicutes, while feeding hosts a fat-restricted diet increases this ratio. However, few studies have investigated the differential effects of fatty acid type on gut bacterial profile.


      Over a 14-week period, Mus musculus were fed a diet rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-6 PUFAs), or saturated fatty acids (SFAs). Fecal pellets were collected before and after the treatment period from 12 randomly selected mice (4 per treatment group). Bacterial DNA was extracted from the pellets and characterized by analysis of the hypervariable V3 region of the 16S rRNA. Nominal logistic regression models were used to assess shifts in microbial profile at the phylum and family levels in response to diet.


      A significant decrease in the proportion of phylum Bacteroidetes species was observed for mice fed any of the three diets over time. However, the SFA-rich diet group showed a significantly greater decrease in Bacteroidetes proportion (-28%) than did either the n-3 PUFA group (-10%) or the n-6 PUFA group (-12%). At the family level, a significant decrease in proportion of Porphyromonadaceae was observed for mice fed the n-6 PUFA-rich diet, and a significant decrease in proportion of Lachnospiraceae was observed for mice fed the SFA-rich diet. There was no significant effect of diet type on body mass change.


      Our results indicate that SFAs have stronger effects than PUFAs in shifting gut microbiota profiles toward those typical of obese individuals, and that dietary fatty acid saturation influences shifts in gut microbiota independently of changes in body mass.

    2. Tim, next on the list of verboten grains might be tefff. I recently had a Ethiopian lunch with a injera, the fermented flatbread made with teff. when dinnertime came I could not imagine eating, even though it was going to be a special meal. Neither could the other three who had eaten that lunch. So we all skipped what was to have been a very special celebration dinner for which we had made a reservation at a very fine sushi house on the other side of the continent! Now I never skip even an ordinary meal, so something was going on with that injera. Turns out teff is very high in RS, but I bet there are other goodies in it that act synergistically with the RS to be so super satiating.

    3. Teff has always intrigued me. Haven't tried it yet. Yes, I suspect some magic in those old grains. Even plain old, modern wheat may not be quite as bad as we've made it out to be. It could be mostly the way we refine and process it.

      I suspect most of the good stuff in grain is in the chaff and seed coats, the parts we love to remove.

      And fermenting those grains, well, that probably has even more magic than we have even thought about!

  13. Hi Tim,you mentioned earlier about eating oats raw.Would they then be type 2 or 3 RS ?

  14. Great post, thank you for the info !

    Just one question please:

    Would it be a viable option to add oat bran to potato starch instead of psyllium husks on order to make it more "bionic"?

    Psyllium is really expensive and hard to find where I live and oat bran can be bought in every shop and is really affordable so I am wondering if it could work well as a daily upgrade and addition to potato starch and inulin?

    Thank you very much !

    1. Sure! That would be perfect. Or even just a handful of raw, rolled oats. Oat bran might even be better than psyllium!

  15. I started to eat oats again about two months ago because I saw they had a high amount of Arabs and in August I began experimenting with eating foods known to have Ras after having given them up 4 years ago when going paleo/primal. Over the years, after an initial phase of being super strict, I allowed more and more foods. I started with oat bran usually made as a hot cereal with added and cooked fruit, cream and honey. I also ate raw think rolled oats while traveling because it was easy--just handfuls here and there in the car. Now in the US again, I find that I am eating a mix of different oat flake and meal varieties, sometimes raw, sometimes cooked. I love them hot but am thinking that I should try fermenting them... I ate a ton of oats last week when I was experiencing a never-before-expire fed indigestion and heartburn episode that seemed to last for days. It was horrible and I do think the oats (and ginger and slippery elm and marshmallow root supplementation) did help. I suspect it was due to diet change by coming back to the U.S. after being in Italy 10 months (I never ate Thai in Italy!) and also due to increasing RS in my daily intake. It has mostly subsided now, thank god, and the flatulence has also decreased.

    I know oats are supposed to help with heartburn/GERD. I wonder if it is related to the properties that make oatmeal so anti-inflammatory or soothing for skin issues? Before going paleoish, I had a terrible bout of contact dermatitis. Oat baths were of the few things that helped relieve the itch, burn and rash. Am wondering if the effect is similar on the tube within a tube...?

  16. Haha! Autocorrect turned RS into "Arabs" and "Ras" above. 😃 please note. I couldn't see how to edit...

    Also expire=experienced...

  17. BEST. NEWS. EVER! Oh Tim.....I just found this post looking for ways to improve my gut health. I grew up on oatmeal and loved it! Even sometimes taking a spoonful raw oats out of the container as a snack. Then I found paleo and eliminated it. Problem is, I RUINED my gut health by trying to get by on salads. Eventually that led me to ketosis because I couldn't tolerate raw greens all the time. So after a GI Effects test my doc tells me my gut is "sick" and I have to figure out how to heal it. Trying to tolerate potatoes (not going well) but added in my friend of old - oatmeal and luckily, I can tolerate that. SO happy to see all your research :-). Now to cure this sulfur your blog Tim!!! Thank you!

  18. An old thread but I just ate some the other day in the morning with no sugars added and got a pretty hard carb crash shortly after despite the fiber and RS in them. Is that fairly normal Tim? I normally eat zero carbs for breakfast. Should one eat them with ample fat (cream?) to lower the GI/GL effect... slow down the blood glucose/insulin spike?

    1. I eat oats almost every weekend. Steel cut, soaked overnight, boiled until just tender. I usually just have some honey with them, or mix in some fruit. I stopped adding butter, but butter sure goes good on oatmeal!

      I imagine the carb crash is a personal thing, so you'll have to play around on your own.

  19. Hi Tim,

    Awesome post! Do you have any idea of the RS content of rolled, steel cut and oat bran? Is there any difference?

    1. No. Not much written on this. "Oats" are said to have about 5% RS when not cooked. I'm not sure if the bran contains more or less RS than the rest. When cooked, you can bet zero. When cooled maybe a tiny bit, 1%?

      I think oats shine more for the beta-glucans.

  20. I forgot to ask. You say oats in moderation. What is 'moderation' on a daily basis? I normally eat 1/2 cup of rolled oats. It turns out to be a lot of oatmeal but by dry weight I don't think its that much.

    1. I guess moderation will be different for everyone. In the latest blog post, we are actually mega-dosing oat bran, so who knows?

      Bottom-line: Oats are good food! Eat up.

    2. Hehe, they're very tasty too :)

  21. I just came to think of something. Wouldn't overnight oatmeal made from either rolled or steel cut oats be a great breakfast? You would keep all of the RS and its very tasty and filling. Basically just müesli.

  22. Sorry for all the questions Tim. I tried making fermented oats which turned out fine. I just wonder, wouldn't the fermentation process reduce the carbohydrate content of the oats? Could that process also destroy some of the RS?

    1. No problem! Glad to see people reading this stuff, still.

      If you like the taste/texture of fermented oats, then just do it! I don't think the changes are worth debating, and fermenting process adds much more to the food than it takes away.

    2. Thanks Tim. Of course, its still very interesting!

      I actually haven't tried them yet because they had to ferment and I can't quite decide which way to prepare them :) I'm thinking I have to try making oatmeal and eating them straight out of the jar.

  23. Tim, I was trying to find out if oat bran has significant RS. I couldn't find anything on the net to answer that question, do you know?I know the oat groat does - whether it's steel cut or rolled.
    I'm trying something new - for my oat breakfast, half of it is cooked and cooled steel cut, then I add 1/4 cup raw dry oat bran (uncooked). The table you have previously presented showed that uncooked oatmeal (that's just the endosperm part) has reasonable RS.
    Thanks in advance for taking the time.

    1. The bran contains beta-glucans, in fact one of the best sources there is. The starchy part is about 10-20% RS.

      Good food all around.

    2. My query was not an idle one, I am trying to maximize my natural RS2. I'll continue with equal parts dry uncooked and cooked/cooled - since oatmeal has more RS2 - it would seem to me that it should be the uncooked portion, and use the oat bran as the cooked portion, since its' beta-glucans will not be affected by the cooking process. I've always felt that I'd rather have large serving of RS2 than the small amount of RS3 that I reform after cooking and cooling cycle. Your thoughts?? BTW - I still do the PS 2 Tbsp/day. Have you thought of cooking your oatmeal in lager batches, freezing it in baggies (single portion) - I cook 4 cups per week and freeze?

    3. I watched an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown last night all about oats. I recommend you all should try to watch it. Very enlightening.

      The beta glucans are water soluble, and in some parts of the world, oats are soaked and the water drank. Hmmm, makes sense, eh?

      But oats are just so very versatile, I had no idea.

      Last night I made a smoothie of whole oat groats, pulverized in my Nutribullet, with blueberries, oat bran, and 2 spoonfuls of Hi-Maize.

      Have you tried
      oat groats? Fantastic cooked, or even eaten by the handful raw. I cook them for about 10 minutes, the direction say something like an hour! And just before they are done cooking, I throw in some oat bran to thicken it all up a bit.

    4. Yes, I do use organic steel cut oat groats - but the bran has been taken off and it is sold but this local company (I went to their farm) as a separate item, so that why I am trying to do the mixture. For the groats, I only cook max 5 min, the bran maybe 2-3 min. I will only cook one of them, and put the other one on raw. I am leaning towards cooking the bran, putting the groats on raw, but so far I have done the opposite - cooked groats, raw bran. I don't like to liquify my food. The kefir gets the PS, inulin, glucomannon treatment, kind of making my own synbiot. and that is a liquid cup.
      Do you have a link for the Alton Brown episode? I found "Sowing your oats" but that is not available in Canada, not sure if that's the one you were referring to, but that's a 2 minute video...

    5. I doubt that the bran is ever removed from oat groats. You are referring to the husk, or hull. The bran is simply the outer colored portion of the oat grain. See wiki:

      I never knew this until recently, either.

      The bran is actually quite difficult to separate, and I'm not even really sure how they do it. Trade secrets, I think. Here is a description:

      If you read carefully, you will see that oats are heated with steam prior to all processing, quite possibly destroying any RS in all oat products, even groats. The term 'raw' is somewhat misleading.

      These are the Good Eats oat shows, I watched the second one last night, have not seen Part 1.

      Oat Cuisine Part 1

      Oat Cuisine Part II

      And, check this out, A transcript of Part 1

      I like this:

      "The venerable English essayist Samuel Johnson wrote, "Oats: a food usually reserved for horses in England, in Scotland supports the people."*

      A few years later, his own biographer, the equally venerable Boswell himself a Scot, wrote back, "Aye, which is why in England you'll raise fine horses, while in Scotland we'll raise fine peepul."

    6. I also found this....Good Eats S05E02 Oat Cuisine digitaldistractions Full Episode mp4

    7. Thanks! Good find. I just added it to the main post above.

    8. You are quite right - the groat is endosperm plus germ plus bran - - served up either whole or cut into bits (steel cut oats)
      BUT, on the wikipedia site you linked to - "The high oil content of bran makes it subject to rancidification, one of the reasons that it is often separated from the grain before storage or further processing. Bran can be heat-treated to increase its longevity." So I would think that the steel cut oats are being sold without the bran, and perhaps the bran is being heat treated for longevity and sold separately - I'm going to call the farm and get a definitive answer, and i'll report back!

    9. My guess is that all commercial food-grade oats are heat-treated, then processed into the various incantations we see. I look forward to hearing what you learn.

      Who'da thunk there was so much to the oat story?

    10. Hey Tim, the link I gave you cuts out at just after 13 minutes, when he is discussing soluble vs insoluble fiber. Here's a link for the full 20 minute episode.....

    11. Just had a great chat with the farm owner - the entire grain (husk on) is heated to 105-110F to stabilize it. The husk is mechanically removed and
      There is then a mechanical ("burr mill" - like a coffee grinder) grinding of the groat. Since the bran is heavier than the flour (germ plus endosperm), the flour can be sucked out and the bran remains - the bran is the more nutrient dense portion.
      The groat can also be either sold as is - whole oat groat (bran plus interior), or chopped into coarser bits to make steel cut oats - there is no additional heat or chemicals or steaming. This makes the home cooking faster.
      To make rolled oats - they use rollers on the steel cut oats - no extra heat. If the groat had been cut into very tiny pieces, the rolled product is now called quick cooking rolled oats.
      He did add that larger commercial operations would use different processes, often with steam and higher heat. He runs a mom and pop older farm!

  24. Tim, I was so glad to read this post on oats! i stopped eating most grains, apart from some rice and buckwheat, due to having Hashimoto's as I was advised not to consume gluten. I have no idea if I have a serious issue with gluten so I wonder what your thoughts are on eating oats from an autoimmune standpoint. I would certainly LOVE to have a bowl of porridge again as I am a Scot by birth! Gluten free oats are a little hard to come by here in Australia but I'm sure I could source them.

    1. "I have no idea if I have a serious issue with gluten so I wonder what your thoughts are on eating oats from an autoimmune standpoint."

      As far as I can tell, oats do not contain any gluten, but some people with severe gluten issues (celiac) can also be sensitive to oats.

      I have been "gluten free" for about 3 years now, even though I do not have any gluten issues. My thoughts are that gluten is not really the culprit, but most wheat-based foods are just plain crap.

      Give oats a try! I'm cooking a pot of steel-cut oats right now, lol. I cook them for about 10 minutes and eat them slightly chewy. Honey and cocoa powder, or a handful of blueberries is all I ever put in them.

      I wouldn't worry about finding gluten free oats, all that means is that they were made in a factory that does not also process wheat.

      I even saw a bag of potato crisps at the store yesterday that said "Gluten Free!".

  25. This is a recipe for fermented/soak Oatmeal. She also has a recipe using fermented oats to make crepes. It is a great site.