RSSOatmeal porridge improves gut health in 7-days

Posted on Thu, 15 Sep 16

Oatmeal porridge improves gut health in 7-days

A daily bowl of porridge improves measures of digestive health, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. This adds to previous studies suggesting oats could reduce digestive illness. 

Oatmeal porridge is a traditional dish in several North Western European countries and Iceland, where oats have been cultivated since the Bronze age. 

There is particular scientific interest in the health benefits of oats for protection against colorectal cancer, and possible benefits for inflammatory bowel disease and coeliac disease [1]. This is partly because oats have a high content of protein, fibers, unsaturated fatty acid, minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals [2].

Studies have suggested oats are fermented by gut bacteria and can improve your gut microbial ecosystem health, which may in turn improve digestive health. In one study, 40g of oat bran for 8-weeks improved gut microbial metabolites, increasing the concentration of acetic, propionic, butyric, isobutyric and isovaleric acids, and decreasing lactic acid [3]. And in people with ulcerative colitis 60g of oat bran daily for 4-weeks increased butyrate concentration by 36% and reduced symptoms of abdominal pain and reflux [4].

In a new investigation people ate a bowl of oatmeal porridge (60g) daily for 1-week [5]. Subsequent analysis of changes in their digestive health found that the porridge reduces urease, a bacterial enzyme that converts urea to toxic ammonia and is considered a market of poor gut bacterial health. There was also a reduction in PGE2, a market of inflammation. Although reductions in PGE2 were not significant across the group, there were striking reductions in individuals who had higher PGE2 at baseline.  

“The results thus suggest that oatmeal porridge may modulate gut microbial functions,” said the study authors. “These findings should encourage further studies to investigate the potential prebiotic properties of oatmeal porridge.”


  1. Thies F, Masson LF, Boffetta P, Kris-Etherton P. Oats and bowel disease: a systematic literature review. Br J Nutr. 2014 Oct;112 Suppl 2:S31-43.
  2. Rasane P, Jha A, Sabikhi L, Kumar A, Unnikrishnan VS. Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods - a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Feb;52(2):662-75.
  3. Nilsson U, Johansson M, Nilsson A, Björck I, Nyman M. Dietary supplementation with beta-glucan enriched oat bran increases faecal concentration of carboxylic acids in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Aug;62(8):978-84. 
  4. Hallert C, Björck I, Nyman M, Pousette A, Grännö C, Svensson H. Increasing fecal butyrate in ulcerative colitis patients by diet: controlled pilot study. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2003 Mar;9(2):116-21.
  5. Valeur J, Puaschitz NG, Midtvedt T, Berstad A. Oatmeal porridge: impact on microflora-associated characteristics in healthy subjects. Br J Nutr. 2016 Jan 14;115(1):62-7.

Tags: Oats, Food As Medicine, Digestive Health, Gut Bacteria, Prebiotic, Probiotic

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