Nutrition news

Snacking on almonds improves gut health

Eating a handful of almonds a day dramatically increases the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that promotes gut health.

A team of King’s researchers studied the impact of whole and ground almonds on the composition of gut microbes. The study, published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is funded by the Almond Board of California.

The gut microbiome is made up of thousands of microorganisms living in the gut. These play a vital role in the digestion of nutrients and can have a positive or negative influence on our health, including our digestive and immune systems. The mechanisms of how gut microbiomes impact human health are still being studied, but evidence suggests that eating specific types of food can positively influence the types of bacteria in our gut or what they do. in our gut.

The researchers recruited 87 healthy adults who were already eating less than the recommended amount of dietary fiber and who were snacking on typical unhealthy snacks (eg chocolate, crisps). The participants were divided into three groups: one group changed their snacks to 56 g of whole almonds per day, another to 56 g of ground almonds per day, and the control group ate energy muffins as a control. The trial lasted four weeks.

Part of the impact of the gut microbiota on human health is through the production of short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate. These molecules act as a fuel source for colon cells, they regulate the absorption of other nutrients in the gut and help balance the immune system. – Lead Author, Professor Kevin Whelan, Head of Department of Nutritional Sciences

The researchers found that butyrate was significantly higher in the almond eaters than in those who ate the muffin. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that is the primary fuel source for the cells that line the colon. When these cells are functioning effectively, they provide an ideal condition for gut microbes to thrive, for the gut wall to be strong and not leaky or inflamed, and for nutrients to be absorbed.

No significant difference was seen in gut transit time – the time it takes for food to move through the gut – but the whole almond eaters had 1.5 more bowel movements per week than the other groups. These results suggest that eating almonds may also be beneficial for people with constipation.

Tests showed that eating whole, ground almonds improved people’s diets, having higher intakes of monosaturated fatty acids, fiber, potassium and other important nutrients compared to the control group.

Professor Whelan added: “We believe these findings suggest that the consumption of almonds may benefit bacterial metabolism in ways that have the potential to influence human health.”

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