Well Nourished Nutrition
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Eleanor is a registered Nutritional Therapy practitioner with a special interest in skin, gut and hormonal health. She studied at the College of Naturopathic Medication in London and takes a whole-body approach to health through personalised nutrition and lifestyle support, focusing on underlying causes of ill health rather than focusing on the symptoms.
She regularly includes buckwheat in her and her clients’ diets, and recently discovered buckwheat tea - here she shares some insight on the benefits of this highly nutritious pseudo-grain!
What is Buckwheat?
Buckwheat (also referred to as Fagopyrum esculentum) is nutrient-dense whole grain that’s easily included in the diet as a carbohydrate source in many meals.
An alternative to rice, quinoa, and pasta, buckwheat is a plant-based, gluten-free option that is a low GI (glycaemic index) source of fibre, protein and therefore – energy!
Low GI (glycaemic index) foods, which cause your blood sugar levels to rise and fall slowly, may help you feel fuller for longer. This could help control your appetite and may be useful if you're trying to lose weight (Source: NHS UK).
The Many Benefits of Buckwheat
Buckwheat has many nutritional and health benefits, including that it can help with digestion and weight loss, it has calming properties, it's anti-inflammatory and low FODMAP*, and can help keep blood sugar levels low and therefore help with the management of type 2 diabetes.
*FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols, which are certain types of carbohydrates -- the sugars, starches, and fibre in foods. Learn more below (Source: WebMD).
1. It's Good for Digestion
Due to Buckwheat’s high fibre content, it can be useful in supporting healthy and regular digestion.
Buckwheat mainly contains insoluble fibre, meaning that it doesn’t dissolve in water, and it moves smoothly through the digestive tract. This is therefore especially beneficial in reducing symptoms such as constipation and bloating.
Buckwheat is also significantly easier to digest and easier on the gut, compared to other more dense grains such as oats or quinoa. This is because buckwheat originates from the angiosperm plant, rather than a grain, and is minimally processed - giving it its famous nutty and earthy flavour.
2. It Has Calming Properties
The subtle, nutty flavour of buckwheat is what promotes the feeling of calm and tranquility, especially in the relaxing state of a cup of tea. It provides the feeling of a nourishing treat with every sip.
When eaten, buckwheat can provide a similar soothing effect as oats do - being an excellent source of tryptophan.
Buckwheat has also been researched for its contents of magnesium, which helps one relax - another essential mineral that is often neglected and burnt through in the body in times of stress or emotional instability.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which assists in the release of serotonin, a feel-good chemical of the brain which supports us to feel both happy and relaxed.
3. It Can Help with Weight Loss
Buckwheat is a nutrient-dense grain that's rich in essential vitamins and minerals, whilst also in protein.
Even with the numerous beneficial compounds of the grain, buckwheat remains low in calories which can, sometimes, be beneficial for supporting a healthy weight in individuals that are trying to reduce their calorie-intake.
Similarly, the grain is rich in protein and essential amino acids such as tryptophan, which means that consuming buckwheat can result in prolonged satiety and stabilised blood sugar levels - this can help one feel fuller for longer and control hunger, therefore resulting in less snacking throughout the day.
4. Buckwheat is Anti-Inflammatory and High in Antioxidants
Anti-inflammatory diets focus on easy-to-digest foods that don’t require significant energy to break down and digest.
Buckwheat can also be classified and identified as a functional food*, with research showing that its bioactive components such as rutin have anti-inflammatory effects, specifically in the digestive tract and blood pressure levels.
Rutin is a naturally occurring flavonoid, or plant pigment, that can, in passing context, be referred to as Vitamin P. It has been researched and shown to be found in a variety of wholefood fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, figs and apples.
Buckwheat is considered to be one of the highest dietary sources of rutin. Traditionally used in natural therapies, rutin acts as an antiviral ingredient, and also supports the inflammatory response of the body.
Reducing inflammation in the body is significant in reducing the risk and progression of chronic conditions and diseases including, but not limited to asthma, autoimmune conditions, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), eczema and liver conditions.
*Functional foods are foods that may have a positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Supporters of functional foods say that these foods can support optimal health and may help lower the risk of disease. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
5. It's also Low FODMAP
FODMAP refers to “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols.”
This refers to short-chain carbohydrates and sugars that are poorly digested in the small intestine. Some examples of high FODMAP foods include wheat, garlic, onion, red peppers, and lentils.
Individuals with compromised digestion may find high FODMAP foods difficult to digest, experiencing symptoms of cramping, diarrhoea, constipation and gas.
Buckwheat groats are a low FODMAP grain and therefore can be easily digested and enjoyed by those who are following or mindful of FODMAPs in their diet.
Put more simply, FODMAPs are certain types of carbohydrates -- the sugars, starches, and fiber in foods. For most, these foods are not a problem unless you eat too much of them. But some people are sensitive to them. (Source: WebMD)
6. Finally, Buckwheat can Help with the Management of Type 2 Diabetes
Buckwheat is a powerful source of protein and fibre which are both equally important in supporting the stability of blood sugar throughout the day.
Research indicates that increasing fibre intake in one’s diet helps lines and buffer the digestive tract, reducing the impact of sugar.
Similarly, the increased fibre-content of buckwheat also enhances satiety, thus preventing the need to snack as mentioned earlier, whilst protein does not increase blood sugar levels but rather stabilises them throughout the day.
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