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High fiber rye foods decrease body weight and body fat and affect metabolic risk markers

The 17th of September 2021, Kia Nöhr Iversen defended her doctoral thesis from Chalmers university of Technology on ‘High fiber rye foods decrease body weight and body fat and affect metabolic risk markers´. Image from: Chalmers University of Technology.

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for development of non-communicable diseases, such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and increase the risk of early mortality. Diet and food consumption are among the most important factors in preventing and reversing overweight, obesity and their comorbidities. Whole grain has been associated with decreased risk of overweight and obesity in observational studies, but the results from interventions are inconsistent. This may be because very few interventions have been adequately designed for evaluation of the effects of whole grain on body weight management and these effects may differ between different whole grain sources. Rye is the cereal with the highest fiber content and has been suggested to be superior to wheat in inducing beneficial physiological effects with health implications, but large randomized controlled trials with well-characterized intervention foods are lacking.

The thesis by Kia Nöhr Iversen aimed to investigate the effects of rye-based cereals, compared with refined wheat-based cereals, on body weight loss and metabolic risk factors. Furthermore, the potential influence of subjective appetite and gut microbiota were investigated. High fiber rye-based cereal products were shown to induce greater reduction in body weight and body fat than corresponding refined wheat products after 6 and 12 weeks of intervention among overweight and obese men and women. No consistent effect of rye products on appetite response was found and the changes in body weight and body fat could not be linked to differences in subjective appetite or food intake. However, this may be due to methodological issues and warrants further research. Compared with refined wheat products, high fiber rye-based cereal products were shown to lower C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation and a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, in two different populations. This effect was associated with reduction in abundance of certain bacteria in the gut that have previously been associated with decreased gut barrier integrity, suggesting that the effect of rye consumption on inflammation may, at least partly, be mediated through changes in gut microbiota composition and decreased gut permeability.

In conclusion, the work included in the thesis by Kia Nöhr Iversen suggests that replacing wheat-based cereals with high fiber rye-based cereals can aid the reduction of body weight and body fat, and reduce low-grade inflammation. These results can support the development of dietary guidelines and promote the development of healthier food products.

Main supervisor

Rikard Landberg, Chalmers University of Technology, Dept. Biology and Biological Engineering


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