CIMMYT Series on Carbohydrates, Wheat, Grains, and Health: Carbohydrates, Grains, and Wheat in Nutrition and Health: Their Relation to Digestion, Digestive Disorders, Blood Glucose, and Inflammation1,2
To address many current claims that disparage and discourage the ingestion of carbohydrates (CHOs), wheat, and cereal grains, as well as to celebrate the versatility, nutritional and health benefits, and contribution of these foods to the world food supply, we felt compelled to defend their role in the diet and write a series of reviews. This third review of CHOs, grains, and whole grains looks at their digestion and absorption, their impact on the microbiome, and how they influence gut function and health and gut-related diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome. Their impact on glycemic response, insulin resistance and inflammation, and the immune system is discussed, and wheat, gluten and grain allergies, and gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease, are addressed. Much of the information on inflammation, glycemic response, and immunity provides a basis for assessing the relationship between CHOs, including starch, dietary fiber, and resistant starch, provided by grains and whole grains and longevity, health, body weight, and chronic diseases, including obesity, blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. CHOs, enriched refined grains, and whole grains are essential components in a health-promoting diet, and individuals need to obtain the right proportion of healthy CHO- and grain-based staple foods in their diets to achieve an optimal balance of calories, macro- and micronutrients, dietary fiber, and phytochemicals.