Whole Grains and Inflammation

by Genevieve Milesi, Accredited Practising Dietitian

Anti-inflammatory foods and diets are buzz words all over blogs, social media, and wellbeing circles, however when we break it down, how do foods, or groups of foods help to reduce inflammation and how does this help us? Let’s take a look as to how we can eat our way into healthier habits and reduce our risk of disease.

Further to our recent hot topic on Inflammation and Diets, it is well established that prolonged inflammation leads to a higher chance of chronic disease risk. If our bodies are in a state of inflammation over an extended period of time, this stress can have a negative effect, and may increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and more commonly type 2 diabetes.[1]

What is inflammation?

Inflammation can show up in our bodies in several ways. Acute Inflammation is typically a response to injury and trauma and is linked with localised swelling and pain, such as a sprained ankle. Chronic inflammation is an immune response to dietary, lifestyle or environmental factors which contribute to elevated pro-inflammatory markers in the bloodstream. Inflammation can be measured via a blood test from a GP looking at our levels of inflammatory markers.

How can we reduce our risk through diet?

Foods that are high in sugar and fats can increase the levels of inflammation in our bodies.[2] Generally these are highly processed foods that have additives which may further exacerbate inflammation in our bodies. In the opposite way, anti-inflammatory foods work to reduce the levels of inflammation  as these foods are nutrient dense and contain a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Examples of such foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oily fish, and the most easily accessible and common foods of all – grains and legumes!

What specific grains and legumes help reduce inflammation?

All whole grains and legumes are great inclusions in your diet in order to reduce inflammation. But like any food, not all grains foods are created equal. If you are looking to reduce levels of inflammation, try and opt for less processed foods, which contain higher amounts of dietary fibre and nutrients. A recently published review on the benefits of whole grains over refined grains, further demonstrates the importance of whole grain foods to reduce inflammation.[3]

Simple swaps such as white bread for wholemeal, white rice for brown rice or even plain pasta for wholemeal pasta are key. These changes may seem small, however after a short while you may soon see the health benefits of not only lower inflammation but also increased satiety as whole grain foods help to keep you fuller for longer – really whats not to love!

For personalised nutrition advice, we recommend seeking support from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who will tailor their advice to you based on the most up-to-date evidence. Find an APD near you by heading to https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/and ‘Find an APD.’

Genevieve Milesi is a Byron Bay-based Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who works with individuals, families and corporates to improve their health through diet in a practical way that fits with their lifestyle.

You can follow Genevieve  on Instagram @theslate.health


  1. Aune, D., et al., Whole grain and refined grain consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies. Eur J Epidemiol, 2013. 28(11): p. 845-58.
  2. Kissock, K.R., E.P. Neale, and E.J. Beck, Whole Grain Food Definition Effects on Determining Associations of Whole Grain Intake and Body Weight Changes: A Systematic Review. Advances in Nutrition, 2020. 12(3): p. 693-707.
  3. Milesi, G., A. Rangan, and S. Grafenauer, Whole Grain Consumption and Inflammatory Markers: A Systematic Literature Review of Randomized Control Trials. Nutrients, 2022. 14(2): p. 374.

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