Rye: what makes this grain so healthy?

Rye: what makes this grain so healthy?

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How does eating rye affect health?

Eating rye has various positive health effects. For a long time, however, it was unclear why this is so. Researchers from Finland have now found that both lactic acid and intestinal bacteria contribute to the health benefits of rye.

The current study by the University of Eastern Finland tried to find out why rye is so healthy for the human body. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Microbiome".

Bacteria modify bioactive compounds

Rye sourdough for baking rye bread is rich in lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria not only ferment the dough, they also modify the bioactive compounds contained in the rye and produce branched-chain amino acids and peptides that influence insulin metabolism, for example, the researchers report.

Does eating rye protect our hearts?

Many of the compounds in rye are processed by intestinal bacteria before they are absorbed by the body. Gut microbes and microbes found in sourdough produce compounds that are partially the same. However, intestinal microbes also produce so-called derivatives of trimethylglycine, also known as betaine, which are contained in rye. A previous study by the research group had previously shown that at least one of these derivatives lowers oxygen demand in cardiac muscle cells, which can protect the heart from ischemia or possibly even improve its performance. These results may explain some of the health benefits of rye, including improvements in blood sugar levels and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers report.

How was the research carried out?

The current study examined the metabolomics and the importance of the damr flora in the intake of rye and wheat. The effects of intestinal microbes have been studied in mice and in an in vitro gastrointestinal model that mimics the function of the human intestine. Using these two models, the researchers were able to eliminate naturally occurring differences in the intestinal microbiome between different individuals, which made it easier to detect metabolites that actually come from rye.

Gut bacteria play a major role in human health

Although the health benefits of rye have long been known, the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood, the researchers report. For example, if you eat rye, your blood sugar will drop more slowly, which has a positive effect on your health. The reason for this is still unknown. An essential factor that contributes to the health benefits of rye are its bioactive compounds or phytochemicals, which serve as antioxidants. In addition, gut microbes appear to play an important role in converting the compounds into a format that is easier for the body to absorb. This enables them to have a stronger impact, explains the research team.

The importance of intestinal microbes for human health has become increasingly clear in recent decades, which is why the intestinal flora should be properly cared for. Unnecessary antibiotics must be avoided and healthy foods such as rye bread should be consumed in order to optimally supply the intestinal bacteria. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Ville M. Koistinen, Olli Kärkkäinen, Klaudyna Borewicz, Iman Zarei, Jenna Jokkala et al .: Contribution of gut microbiota to metabolism of dietary glycine betaine in mice and in vitro colonic fermentation, in Microbiome (query: 05.08.2019), Microbiome

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