Oatmeal is a soluble fiber product that is produced by milling of the oat groats, also known as white oats.
Benefits of oatmeal
Oatmeal has gained its popularity due to the prominent health benefits reported by some studies
- Cholesterol levels – oatmeal contains beta-glucans that have been linked to maintaining normal blood cholesterol concentrations, when combined with low-fat diet. Furthermore, antioxidants called avenanthramides help to prevent free radicals from negatively affecting LDL cholesterol, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Sugar levels – stabilization of blood sugar levels is a result of the fiber that slows down rapid sugar absorption, helping to balance an insulin secretion. Oatmeal also contains considerable amounts of magnesium which assists the body in glucose utilization, thus lowering the risks of type 2 diabetes
- Heartburn, gastritis and ulcers – the thickness of oatmeal is beneficial for coating a damaged stomach lining, which helps to alleviate the associated pain and inflammation from digestive acids coming in contact with a damaged intestinal wall
- Constipation & diarrhea – the fiber content helps to bind the stool while increasing its bulk for easier movement through intestines. It is worth noting that too much oatmeal in terms of fiber content may aggravate constipation
- Breast cancer – some studies have shown that moderate but not an excessive consumption of fiber that comes from whole grains minimizes the risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 40 percent.
- Nutritional value – oatmeal contains beneficial amounts of thiamine, niacin and folate which are the B group vitamins. It is also rich in minerals, antioxidants, protein and iron
- Immune function – beta-glucans have a positive effect on the cellular immune activity that helps to suppress bacterial infections
All of the above would be beneficial for health only if an unflavored and unsweetened oatmeal in its pure form is consumed. Instead of sweetening, mix in some chopped fruits after the oatmeal is cooked.
Dangers and side effects of too much oatmeal consumption
Although oatmeal may seem like a harmless and beneficial product to consume in any amounts, it is not as safe as commonly perceived. Too much oatmeal may lead to adverse health conditions or aggravate the existing problems.
- Increased risk of diabetes from flavored types of oatmeal that contain artificial ingredients and significant amounts of sugar
- Intestinal blockage – eating too much oatmeal that is undercooked or raw may create an intestinal blockage and severe constipation
- Impaired digestion – oatmeal contains Phytic acid. Phytates chelate and make important nutrients unabsorbable by intestines. It mostly applies to calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron, however, other nutrients are affected long term as well
- Deficiency in nutrients created by excessive oatmeal consumption overtime may lead to many serious conditions
- Sleep disorders
- Bone disorders
- Chronic muscle spasms and weakness
- Agitation and anxiety
- Neurological disorders resulting in chronic pain and impaired organ functions
- Depression and memory loss
- Slow nail growth
- Blood clots
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Kidney disease
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- Excessive tooth decay
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Gluten sensitivity (including non-celiac) – although the oatmeal does not contain gluten, it is often grown in fields that had grains such as wheat and barley or in close proximity to current fields of wheat and barley, which contaminates the oats with gluten. This oatmeal contamination may create symptoms from mild to severe, which may include
- IBS like cramping and bloating
- Skin problems such as rashes and seborrheic dermatitis and dermatitis herpetiformis
- Brain fog
- Joint pain and numbness in extremities
- Endocrine disorders
How much is too much oatmeal?
Daily moderate consumption of oatmeal for extended periods of time can do more harm then good. The depletion of the minerals and vitamins by consuming too much oatmeal is a slow process. However, once the vitamin and mineral depletion has done the damage to a body, the recovery may not be as easy as normalizing the levels of the nutrients. Some conditions may become chronic and difficult to treat.