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Oats: Health Benefits, Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

By NS Desk | Herbs | Posted on :   19-Dec-2020

Oats are a type of cereal grain commonly used as feed for livestock. It is suitable for human consumption in the form of oatmeal and baked items such as bread. It is also used to make other food items such as porridge and muesli. It is sourced from a plant, scientifically known as 'Avena sativa.'
Oats have become an increasingly favorite choice for breakfast with the millennials and, consequently, the older and the younger generations. This can be attributed to the fact that it has several health benefits when consumed regularly. It is rich in roughage, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is also the only food source for avenanthramides, a distinctive group of antioxidants that help in cleansing the body. Moreover, it can be used in various recipes that taste good and offer several options for the consumer to choose from based on their taste. Some of the common recipes include porridge, upma, and idlis.
Origin of the Word ‘Oats’
The word ‘oats’ seems to have originated from the Old English word ‘āte,' plural 'ātan.' The regional Dutch word 'aate' or 'oote.' The Dutch word 'oote' stands for cultivated oats and is a reflex of a common Germanic word whose literal translation is 'the grain.'
Historical Uses of Oats 
Oats have been prominent in temperate countries for a long given their lower heat requirement and greater tolerance towards rain than other cereal plants. Conventionally, it was used for weight management and as a source of energy.
It has also been found to help maintain blood cholesterol levels, which makes it extremely good for health, especially for people suffering from heart ailments.
Treating Diseases/Health Issues Using Oats
Oats can be used to treat several medical problems. It can also be used in several forms. Regular consumption of oats provides several long term health benefits. Some of them are listed below.
• Constipation 
Oats are a very rich source of fiber, especially β-glucan, a type of soluble dietary fiber. It does not breakdown in the small intestine, and upon passing into the large intestine, improves stool consistency by adding fibrous bulk to it. The consequent laxative effect produced helps in sorting the problem of constipation naturally without the use of chemical-based laxatives.
• Diabetes Mellitus (Type 1 and 2)

Modern Science View

Ayurvedic View

According to modern science, as the β-glucan fiber does not get digested in the small intestine, it helps to control the rapid increase in glucose levels immediately after meals.

Being a rich source of magnesium, oats also helps in glucose and insulin metabolism. It curbs glucose production in the body by increasing the insulin secretion for a longer than normal time duration.

Oats helps to reduce and maintain blood sugar levels in the body when consumed regularly, preferably on a daily basis in little amounts.

According to Ayurveda, diabetes occurs due to unbalanced and intensified Vata. Impaired digestion is believed to worsen the effects as it accumulates Ama or toxins in the body. This hinders the working of the pancreatic cells and thereby the effectiveness of the insulin produced.

Oats aids in correcting these disorders when eaten on a daily basis due to its Deepan or appetizing and Pachan or digestive properties. The subsequent reduction of Ama and an increase in insulin efficiency helps lessen the blood sugar levels.

• High Cholesterol 

Modern Science View

Ayurvedic View

Oats are a rich source of fiber, reduce the absorption rates in the small intestine by a huge margin. The ensuing promotion in the metabolism of bile acids and fats proves to effectively reduce cholesterol levels.

Oats also help in minimizing the damage caused due to high cholesterol as their antioxidant properties inhibit lipid peroxidation to a great extent.

According to Ayurveda, high cholesterol results from the imbalance of Pachak Agni or the digestive fire in literal translation. Impaired digestion produces Ama or excess waste at the tissue level, which in turn instigates the accumulation of bad cholesterol, inducing blockage in the blood vessels. 

Due to the appetizing and digestive properties of oats, it reduces Ama and improves Agni, thereby restoring balance and countering bad cholesterol problems.

• Heart Disease 

Modern Science View

Ayurvedic View

As discussed, β-glucan in oats helps to lower blood cholesterol levels in the body, averting its deposition in the arteries. This thwarts plaque formation.

The antioxidant properties of oats prevent lipid peroxidation, which is extremely damaging to blood vessels.

Hence, oats are effective in the management of heart diseases and significantly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Oats help to bring down the risk of heart diseases by effectively regulating cholesterol levels in the blood.

According to Ayurveda, high cholesterol is a result of the imbalance of Pachak Agni or the digestive fire.

Impaired digestion produces Ama or excess waste at the tissue level, which in turn instigates the accumulation of bad cholesterol, inducing blockage in the blood vessels.

Due to the Deepan and Pachan properties of oats, it helps to reduce Ama and improve Agni.This restores balance, counters bad cholesterol problems, and as a result, maintains heart health.

• Ulcerative Colitis 

Modern Science View

Ayurvedic View

Ulcerative colitis is concomitant to the formation of an ulcer in the colon's inner lining due to inflammation.

Oats contain carboxylic acids, which avert colon diseases. Butyric acid present in oats aids in strengthening the colon's mucus membrane, which consequently reduces the risk of formation of ulcers by a significant measure.

According to Ayurveda, the symptoms pertaining to ulcerative colitis are somewhat similar to those of Grahni, more commonly known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

An imbalance of Pachak Agni causes ulcerative colitis, which is countered by oats' valuable properties when regularly consumed.

• Anxiety 
According to Ayurveda, the Vata regulates all types of movements associated with the body, including physical actions and the nervous system. An imbalance of Vata is the main cause of anxiety. Oats proves to be effective in restoring balance to the Vata, thereby producing an overall calming effect on the nervous system. This helps keep a check on anxiety and controlling it.
• Skin Disorders 
Oats are considered to be useful in managing skin diseases. It reduces dryness and strengthens the skin barrier, which increases protection. Its antioxidant properties help in the formation of new skin cells and regulate the skin's oil and pH levels. This helps in keeping the skin smooth and radiant.
Tips for application–Add honey to a teaspoon of oats to make a paste and apply evenly on the skin. Leave it undisturbed for 20-30 mins and let it dry. Wash with water thoroughly and lightly pat dry. Do not rub while drying.
How to Consume Oats?
Oats prove to be most effective when eaten regularly in controlled amounts. As the old proverb goes, excess of anything is bad. Some of the most common and easiest ways to prepare oats for consumption are as follows – 
1. Oats Kheer 
- Boil half a cup of milk on a medium flame and add 2-3 teaspoons of oats. 
- Cook on a low flame.
- Add sugar according to taste. 
2. Oats Poha 
- Heat a frying pan and add half a teaspoon of olive oil. 
- Sauté the preferred vegetables and add 2-3 teaspoons of oats. 
- Add a cup of water. 
- Cook it well and eat. 
3. Oats Capsule 
- Take 1 or 2 capsules per day.
- Swallow with water after food. 
How to Use Oats for External Application?
Oats are beneficial to the skin and can be used for the same in a variety of ways. Some easy methods are listed below, which can be made at home without much difficulty.
1. Oats Curd Face Scrub 
- Take half a teaspoon of oats and add one teaspoon of thick curd. 
- Gently massage it on the area where you want to apply. Do this for 4-5 minutes. 
- Wash properly with tap water and pat dry lightly. 
This method yields the best results when used 3-4 times a week. It exfoliates the skin and gets rid of suntans. It also helps to reduce oiliness on the skin.
2. Oats Honey Face Pack 
- Take half a teaspoon of oats and add besan or gram flour to it. Add a little honey as well. 
- Apply evenly on the skin for 4-5 minutes and leave it to dry. 
- Wash properly with tap water and lightly pat dry. 
This method yields the best results when used 2-3 times a week. This remedy proves effective in managing acne, dull, and oily skin.
How Effective is Oats? 

Likely Effective

Heart Disease, High Cholesterol, Stomach Cancer, Diabetes Mellitus (Type 1 and 2)

Likely Ineffective

Colon Cancer, Rectum Cancer, Hypertension

Insufficient Evidence

Anxiety, Constipation, Ulcerative Colitis

Precautionary Expert Advice 
Even though consumption of oats produces a lot of health benefits in people, irrespective of age, it is essential to keep a few points in mind with regard to its safe consumption, which can become problematic if not adhered to.
1. Avoid eating oats if you have any kind of problems while chewing as unchewed oats may cause intestinal blockage.
2. Avoid eating oats if you have issues with the digestive tract, such as with your esophagus, stomach, or intestines.
Side Effects of Eating Oats 
Consumption of oats can lead to intestinal gas and bloating. Therefore, it is advised to be consumed in regulated amounts and ensure proper digestion by resorting to physical activity of some sort, such as walking after intake.
Frequently Asked Questions 
Some frequently asked questions are answered below to help with better understanding and to clarify common doubts. 
1. Is it good to eat oats every day?
Oats are rich in roughage, which helps in relieving constipation and regulated blood cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels. This makes it beneficial for heart patients, as well. It is a nutritionally healthy and whole diet and hence, good to eat every day. Starting with a small quantity and slowly increasing the amount is the advised practice that one should adopt. 
2. What happens when you eat oats every morning? 
Consumption of oats at a stipulated time, such as in the morning every day for breakfast, helps the body get used to it. This makes it easier to regulate constipation due to the presence of adequate amounts of fiber provided regularly.
It also helps to manage and control blood cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels. 
The inclusion of oats as a part of breakfast every morning has proven to help people stay fit, active, and healthy.
3. What are oats made of? 
Oats is a whole grain food. The plant it is derived from is scientifically known as 'Avena sativa.' It belongs to the grass family Poaceae and is typically grown for its seed. It has a balanced dietary composition, including adequate amounts of fiber, amino acids, and carbohydrates. It is also rich in Vitamin E, minerals such as Iron and Calcium, and several phytochemicals. All the characteristics make oats a common and healthy breakfast choice.
4. Can I use expired oats for the face pack?
There is not enough substantiate scientific data to verify oats' shelf life, either for consumption or external application.
5. Can oats cause vomiting?
No, oats do not cause vomiting. In fact, according to Ayurveda, it helps to improve digestion to a great extent by maintaining the balance of Pachak Agni. Its Deepan or appetizing and Pachan or digestive qualities are of enormous significance. 
6. How effective are oats for weight loss?
Due to the presence of a significant amount of dietary fiber, especially β-glucan, oats have been found to be efficient in managing and achieving weight loss. The fibrous content helps to regulate metabolism, lose extra body fat, and maintains cholesterol levels. These fibers also help suppress hunger by providing a feeling of fullness. This cuts down on overeating and, subsequently, higher calorie intake. This makes oats a full meal nutritionally.
According to Ayurveda, the accumulation of Ama or excessive toxins in the body due to impaired digestion is the primary cause of weight gain. These toxins are stored as extra fat in the body. Oats help in weight loss naturally due to their Deepan (appetizing) and Pachan (digestive) properties, which enhance metabolism and the digestive fire (Pachan Agni). As a result, the toxins are removed, leading to weight loss.
7. Can oats cause pimples?
No, oats do not cause or aggravate pimples. On the contrary, it helps control acne when applied externally regularly. It aids in controlling excessive oiliness and promotes exfoliation. The reduction of clogs and smoothening of skin texture makes the skin much more radiant.
According to Ayurveda, this property of oats can be attributed to its ability to balance the Kapha. 
8. Does the mixture of oats and milk work well for the face?
The anti-inflammatory property of oats combined with milk's moisturizing property proves to be a great combo for the skin. Applying it on the face helps make it smoother and radiant.
According to Ayurveda, the paste of oats and milk have a Sita nature or cold nature. This makes it great for the skin as it helps retain moisture and minimize dryness.

NS Desk

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