According to a study, eating around 46 almonds a day can improve gut health

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A small new study says snacking on almonds is good for gut health. Image credit: Gabriel (Gabi) Bucataru / Stocksy.
  • A new study finds that eating 56 grams of almonds per day, the equivalent of about 46 almonds, can improve gut health by promoting butyrate levels.
  • The research involved three groups who replaced their regular snacks with whole almonds, ground almonds, or an energy-equivalent control muffin.
  • The authors conclude that incorporating almonds into the diet could be a way to increase fiber intake without triggering intestinal symptoms..

We are still learning about the human microbiome, the 10-100 trillion microorganisms live in our bodies, mainly in the human intestine. Piece by piece, researchers are piecing together how this vast, tiny universe works and how it affects our health.

A major player in gut health appears to be butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that supports the health of the microbiome itself.

Dr. Alice Creedon explained Medical news today:

“Butyrate is important for gut health, as it serves as the primary source of fuel for the colon cells, allowing them to function properly and optimally. It is also involved in signaling the gut to initiate the nutrient absorption process. “

“In addition,” said Dr. Creedon, “the butyrate produced in the intestine can enter the bloodstream where it is involved in regulating health in other areas of the body, such as the liver, brain and lungs.”

Dr Creedon is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nutritional Studies at King’s College London. She is also the first author of a new study that explores the value of almonds as a means of supporting the microbiome’s supply of butyrate.

The study shows that eating a healthy handful of almonds every day promotes butyrate production.

It appears inside The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research was funded by the Almond Board of California.

Dr. Creedon’s research documents the benefits of eating about 56 grams, or 2 ounces, of almonds per day, which amounts to about 46 almonds.

“Butyrate supports the intestinal barrier, which prevents bacteria and other microbes from entering the blood. In doing so, butyrate can help reduce inflammation, manage conditions like IBS [irritable bowel syndrome]and reduce gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating, “said Allison Tallman, a registered dietitian nutritionist. MNT.

“Butyrate is produced through the fermentation of fibers in the colon. Therefore, increasing dietary fiber, such as in almonds, increases butyrate levels, which has a positive effect on gut health, ”Tallman said.

Talking about the nutritional value of almonds, Tallman further noted that:

“Almonds are packed with various nutrients in one serving, such as 4 grams of fiber, 13 grams of ‘good’ unsaturated fat, 1 gram of saturated fat and 50% of the daily value of vitamin E, and can easily be incorporated into our diet in various ways “.

Yet these seeds come with some environmental health warnings. According to data provided by the Almond Board of California in 2016, about 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California.

The harvest consumes a sizable portion of the state’s annual water supply, a concern for some in light of recent climatic conditions. A 2019 study found that growing an almond pit requires about 12 liters of water.

However, the same study found that while almonds require significant amounts of water, “[i]In relation to dietary benefits, almonds were among the top three foods analyzed that provide the greatest nutritional benefit per unit of weight ”.

Participants in the present study were 87 healthy adult females and males, aged 18 to 45 years. They self-reported that they ate snacks regularly, at least two per day, and did not eat a moderate or high-fat diet exceeding the recommended 22 grams of fat per day.

For the study, the researchers divided the participants into three groups, differentiated by the food with which they replaced their usual snacks.

One group ate two 28-gram servings of whole almonds each day, while another group ate two 28-gram servings of ground almonds per day. The final control group ate muffins that provided the body with an amount of energy equivalent to that of almonds. The trial period was 4 weeks.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the almond groups had significantly higher levels of butyrate in fecal matter than the control group, 24.1 micromoles per gram instead of 18.2. micromoles per gram.

There was no significant difference between the groups in intestinal symptoms, intestinal transit time – the amount of time it takes for food to enter and exit the digestive system – or stool consistency.

Furthermore, all three groups had a similar abundance of stool bifidobacteriawith no obvious differences in the gut microbiota at the phylum level or in terms of diversity.

The study monitored the difference between consuming whole or ground almonds in terms of butyrate production.

Individuals who ate whole almonds had 1.5 more bowel movements each week than those who ate ground almonds.

Dr. Creedon speculated why this might be the case: “Whole almonds differ from ground almonds in the amount of fat that reaches the colon. When we consume whole almonds, much of the fat escapes digestion and reaches the colon. By comparison, more fat than ground almonds is digested at the top [gastrointestinal] treatment”.

“It is possible,” noted Dr. Creedon, “that the increased fat in the colon of whole almond eaters served to increase the ease of passage of stool and increase stool weight. Both of these effects could increase the frequency of stools. feces in these people. There is little research on the impact of fat on stool frequency. Therefore, these findings require further investigation in future studies. “

Surprisingly, Dr. Creedon said, “[f]After chewing, ground almonds had significantly smaller particles in size than chewed whole almonds.

“When we entered the measured values ​​of these grain size distributions of whole and ground almonds into a mathematical model that predicts the amount of fat released by chewed almonds during digestion, we found that the model predicted that ground almonds released significantly more fat than almonds. whole, “she added.

“These findings will be explained in more detail in another paper which is currently being prepared for publication.”

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