Weight 'secret' Backed by Science

by Darrell Bellaart

I want to share a little secret with those trying to shed those extra pounds: whole grain bread.

It's something I stumbled upon years ago, and it works.

I knew it was time for drastic action when my wife commented on my weight. That's when I remembered whole grain bread. I got back on the bandwagon and haven't looked back.

Now I hardly consider myself a health nut, but I do like to try and keep my body in reasonably healthy. So I was concerned when my waistline expanded by several sizes. At my height, I can't afford to let my waist exceed its normal range.

Then I remembered something I'd learned in college – that eating better can make a big difference in your body weight.

You see, I was a landscape worker in a previous lifetime, and in those days weight control was hardly a worry. But the pounds started to settle around my middle in my late twenties, after I decided to return to school to pursue a journalism career.

I can't honestly remember how I discovered this, but at some point during college, I figured out that if I bought the more expensive, but healthier, whole grain bread, I could get away eating one sandwich, whereas I usually ate two sandwiches for lunch. Doesn't sound like it would make much of a difference, but when I made the switch to whole grain, voila – the extra pounds started to come off. Soon I was back to my old self.

But as a cub reporter, I spent a several years living in smaller communities, often with limited access to wholesome bread. I got out of the habit, and gradually I started getting chunky.

Within six weeks people were complimenting me, and soon they were asking me my secret.

“Just eating better,” I'd say to incredulous stares.

I should add that I also eliminated refined sugar from my diet. I've shed 25 lbs. since then, and kept them off. I feel much better.

I just learned my “secret” is backed by science.

A recent study by nutritional scientists at Penn State University found that eating whole grains not only lowers body weight and blood pressure, it also lowers the risk of something called metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions associated with heart disease and diabetes.

The scientists took a group of 50 obese adults aged between 20 and 65 and split them into two groups. For 12 weeks, one group ate a diet rich that included refined breads while the other group ate whole grains. Both groups got tips on proper diet and exercise, and both groups ate other healthy foods: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, fish and poultry.

Both groups lost between eight and 12 lbs. during the study period, but the whole grain group lost it where it counts – in the abdomen Abdominal fat is considered a risk factor in many chronic diseases.

The whole grain group showed a 38-per cent drop in something called C-reactive protein, considered a marker for risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Those eating refined flour breads enjoyed no such decrease.

Those results are similar to patients taking statins. the drugs used to treat cholesterol - but with no side effects. The same is true with whole grain pasta, oatmeal and brown rice, by the way.

So, my home-style weight reduction regimen could yield some life-sustaining benefits for me.

My only concern, now that scientists have verified my little discovery, is that the price of these healthy foods will soon go through the roof.

- Darrell Bellaart, reporter

Nanaimo News Bulletin,

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