NOV 05, 2022 8:00 AM PDT

A Handful of Almonds a Day Keeps the Microbiome at Bay

WRITTEN BY: Joshua Aeh

A handful of almonds a day could keep your gut healthy by promoting the production of a short-chain fatty acid known as butyrate. Butyrate occurs when gut microbes break down dietary fiber contributing to digestive health.

Thousands of microorganisms, known as the gut microbiome, live throughout your digestive system. These microorganisms are essential to digestive health and can cause negative or positive effects on our health, including our immune and digestive systems. How the mechanisms of the gut microbiomes impact our health remains under investigation, but there is evidence that suggests that consuming specific foods could promote a positive influence on the types of bacteria found in our gut and/or how they operate.

Eighty-seven healthy adults were recruited by a team of researchers from King's College London to investigate the effect of whole and ground almonds on the makeup of gut microbes. All 87 participants were considered healthy adults but lacked the recommended dietary fiber intake and consumed what is typically regarded as unhealthy snacks.

For four weeks, the participants were divided into three groups: the first group consumed about 2 ounces of whole almonds a day, the second group consumed the same amount but in ground almonds, and the third group (the control group) consumed energy-matched muffins.

It was found that the short-chain fatty acid butyrate was significantly higher in those who consumed the almonds as opposed to those consuming the control muffin. Butyrate serves as the primary source of fuel for the cells that line the colon. When functioning effectively, these cells create an ideal environment for the gut microbes to develop vigorously, for the wall of the gut to be strong and not inflamed or leaky, and for the absorption of nutrients.

No notable difference was noticed in the time it took for the food to move through the entire distance of the gut (gut transit time). Still, the participants who consumed whole almonds had a 1.5 increase in bowel movements per week in comparison to the other two groups suggesting that eating almonds could benefit those dealing with constipation.

The test showed that, compared to the control group, the participants who consumed whole or ground almonds had an increase in fiber, monosaturated fatty acids, potassium, and other vital nutrients, improving their diets.

Our gut health is partly influenced by the production of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. Molecules such as these help to regulate the absorption of important nutrients, act as a source of fuel for cells of the colon and help to promote a healthy balance of the immune system. A handful of almonds a day may be the benefit to bacterial metabolism that, in turn, contributes to a healthier life.

Sources: ScienceDaily, KCL

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Currently a Tissue Recovery Technician with a background in Exercise Science working on the side as a Writer with an interest in all things science.
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