In a study conducted on a small sample of healthy adults between the ages of 22 and 49, scientists in Norway and Sweden found that eating one bowl of oatmeal a day affected subjects’ gut microbes, though the benefits were mixed.
On one hand, the oatmeal decreased levels of urease, a microbial enzyme that can lead to urinary infection stones and peptic ulcers.
On the other, researchers also observed that the oatmeal decreased levels of β-Galactosidase, another microbial enzyme that is used to create lactose-free milk and other dairy products for the lactose intolerant. Other measures of gut health, like the subjects’ inflammatory state and intestinal gas production, were not significantly affected, but the small-scale study indicates that oatmeal porridge should be considered a prebiotic — good bacteria that can regulate the growth of harmful bacteria.
“The results suggest that oatmeal porridge has an effect on gut microbial functions,” researchers said, “and may possess potential prebiotic properties that deserve to be investigated further.”