According to a new study, eating 56 grams of almonds per day — the equivalent of about 46 almonds — can improve gut health by increasing butyrate levels.
The study involved three groups of people who swapped their usual snacks for whole almonds, ground almonds, or an energy-equivalent control muffin. Researchers in the study concludes that introducing almonds into the diet could be a way to increase fiber intake without causing gut symptoms.
We are still learning about the human microbiome, which consists of 10-100 trillion microorganisms that live in our bodies, primarily in the human gut. Researchers are piecing together how this vast and tiny universe works, and how it affects our health, piece by piece.
Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that promotes the health of the microbiome, appears to be an important player in gut health.
Butyrate is important for gut health because it serves as the predominant source of fuel for colon cells, allowing them to function properly and efficiently. It is also involved in triggering to the gut to start the nutrient absorption process.
Butyrate manufactured in the gut can enter the bloodstream, where it is involved with the control of health in other areas of the body, such as the liver, brain, and lungs.
Dr. Creedon is a postdoctoral researcher at King's College London's Department of Nutritional Studies. She is also the first author of the new study that looks at the value of almonds in terms of supplying butyrate to the microbiome.
The study shows that eating a healthy handful of almonds every day increases butyrate production.
The significance of butyrate
Dr. Creedon's research demonstrates the health benefits of eating 56 grams, or 2 ounces, of almonds daily — roughly 46 almonds.
Butyrate helps to maintain the gut barrier, which prevents bacteria and other microbes from entering your bloodstream. It can thus assist in reducing inflammation, handling conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and reducing gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating,
Butyrate is produced in the colon by the fermentation of fiber. Thus, increasing fiber in the diet, such as almonds, raises butyrate levels, which benefits our gut health,
The drawbacks of eating almonds
Although almonds are healthy in moderation, they can cause some side effects. Eating too many almonds can lead to weight gain, which can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Too much consumption of any one food item can create nutrient deficiencies in your diet as well. For example, eating an excessive amount of almonds would mean that you are consuming very little protein or fiber, both essential for maintaining good gut health. If you plan on eating more than just an occasional serving of almonds, make sure to incorporate other foods with protein and fiber into your diet to maintain good gut health.
The current study included 87 healthy adult females and males ranging in age from 18 to 45 years. They self-reported consuming a minimum of two snacks per day and not eating a moderate- or high-fat diet with more than the recommended 22 grams of fat per day.
The researchers divided the participants into three groups based on the food they replaced their habitual snacks with.
One group consumed two portions of 28 grams of whole almonds per day, while the other consumed two portions of 28 grams of ground almonds on a daily basis. The final control group consumed muffins that provided the same amount of energy to the body as the almonds. The trial period lasted four weeks.
Researchers discovered that the almond groups had significantly higher levels of butyrate in their feces than the control group, 24.1 micromoles per gram versus 18.2 micromoles per gram. Therefore, snacking on almonds has a beneficial effect on the maintenance of the gut.
How to incorporate almonds into your diet
Almonds have 4 grams of fiber, 13 grams of 'good' unsaturated fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, and 50% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E in one serving, and can be easily integrated into our diet in a number of ways.
Almond milk is an excellent substitute for dairy milk because it is lactose-free, gluten-free, vegan, and has no added sugar. It is also easy to make almond milk at home with just one ingredient – raw almonds! Place them in a blender or food processor with water and pulse until you have reached the desired consistency.
Raw nuts such as almonds should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator to ensure they stay fresh and crunchy. They can be eaten as a snack by themselves or used in baked goods like cookies, brownies, and muffins. If adding them to any recipes that use flour such as pancakes, waffles, or bread then a quarter cup less flour than the recipe calls for so that the batter does not become too dense.
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