This Nut Can Help To Improve Your Gut Health, Study Says
If you've found yourself suffering from gut-related health issues, then you're far from alone. Almost 40% of adults deal with a functional gastrointestinal disorder, according to HCPLive. That might include heartburn and acid reflux to bloating or even irritable bowel syndrome. GI Alliance also notes that 20 million people in the United States face chronic digestive diseases while it's also the number one cause of hospitalization. That's not to mention the time off from work that becomes necessary, and the pain people end up attempting to manage. Fortunately, a new study has found that eating a few almonds every day can help to improve your gut health.
Conducted by researchers from King's College London, this study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and involved 87 adults, whose regular diet didn't include an adequate amount of fiber but did include unhealthy snacks such as chocolate or chips. After splitting those involved into three groups, the researchers behind the study asked one group to give up their normal snacks and instead eat 56 grams of whole almonds per day for a total of four weeks. The second group switched their snacks to the same amount of almonds. However, in this case, they were ground nuts instead of whole. Finally, the third group didn't swap almonds into their diet, but did switch to muffins.
After the month-long period, the researchers found that participants who had switched to a daily almond snack of either kind had a higher amount of butyrate than those who were eating muffins. They also found that eating almonds increased the amount of monosaturated fatty acids, fiber, and potassium, as well as additional nutrients.
"Part of the way in which the gut microbiota impact human health is through the production of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate. These molecules act as a fuel source for cells in the colon, they regulate absorption of other nutrients in the gut, and help balance the immune system," lead author Professor Kevin Whelan, head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King's College London, said in a press release. "We think these findings suggest almond consumption may benefit bacterial metabolism in a way that has the potential to influence human health."
"The findings from this study weren't surprising when comparing almond intake to muffin intake (depending on the type of muffin), because almonds contain more fiber," Paulina Lee, MSHS, RD, LD, functional gut health dietitian and founder of Savvy Stummy, LLC, tells Eat This, Not That! "Fiber is the main fuel for probiotics or our healthy gut bacteria to utilize, so that they can create metabolites, like serotonin and butyrate."
At the same time, Lee notes that "almonds aren't the only way to get more butyrate."
"Eating 30 different vegetables, including avocados, legumes, or other prebiotic foods per week—and including fermented foods, like kimchi and sauerkraut—can help you build diverse gut bacteria," Lee advises. "So, they can produce more butyrate and other beneficial metabolites for our body."