Summary: Consuming a handful of almonds every day increases butyrate production, improves bacterial metabolism and positively influences health.
Source: King’s College London
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 Nutritionis 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 other nutrients in the gut and help balance the immune system,” said lead author Professor Kevin Whelan, Head of the 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.”
About this diet and current microbiome research
Author: Kevin Whelan
Source: King’s College London
Contact: Kevin Whelan – King’s College London
Image: Image is in public domain
Original research: Free access.
“The impact of almonds and almond processing on gastrointestinal physiology, luminal microbiology, and gastrointestinal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial and chewing study” by Kevin Whelan et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
The impact of almonds and almond processing on gastrointestinal physiology, luminal microbiology, and gastrointestinal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial and chewing study
Almonds contain lipids, fibers and polyphenols and possess physicochemical properties that impact nutrient bioaccessibility, which are thought to impact gut physiology and microbiota.
Investigate the impact of whole almonds and ground almonds (almond flour) on faecal bifidobacteria (primary outcome), gut microbiota composition and transit time.
Healthy adults (n=87) participated in a parallel 3-arm randomized controlled trial. Participants received whole almonds (56 g/d), ground almonds (56 g/d) or an isocaloric control muffin in place of usual snacks for 4 weeks. Gut microbiota composition and diversity (16S rRNA gene sequencing), short-chain fatty acids (gas chromatography), volatile organic compounds (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry), intestinal transit time (wireless motility capsule ), stool output, and bowel symptoms (7-day diary) were measured at baseline and endpoint. The impact of almond shape on particle size distribution (PSD) and predicted lipid release was measured in one subgroup (n=31).
A modified intention-to-treat analysis was performed on 79 participants. There were no significant differences in the abundance of faecal bifidobacteria after consumption of whole almonds (8.7%, SD 7.7%), ground almonds (7.8%, SD 6.9 %) or control (13.0%, SD 10.2%; q = 0.613). Consumption of almonds (whole and ground) resulted in an increase in butyrate (24.1 μmol/g, SD 15.0 μmol/g) compared to the control (18.2 μmol/g, SD 9.1 μmol/ g; p = 0.046). There was no effect of almonds on gut microbiota at phylum level or diversity, gut transit time, stool consistency, or gut symptoms. Almond form (whole or ground) had no effect on study results. Ground almonds resulted in a significantly smaller PSD and higher predicted lipid release (10.4%, SD 1.8%) compared to whole almonds (9.3%, SD 2.0%; p = 0.017).
Almond consumption has a limited impact on gut microbiota composition but increases butyrate concentrations in adults, suggesting positive alterations in microbiota functionality. Almonds can be incorporated into the diet to increase fiber intake without triggering intestinal symptoms.
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