A handful of almonds a day takes inflammation and constipation away! This is what emerges from a very recent scientific research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by a team of scientists from King's College London (Creedon et al, AJCN, Sep 2022).
The gut microbiota, what it is and how the diet affects it
The gut microbiota is the set of bacteria that live in our intestine and on whose health the health of the whole organism depends. In fact, at first glance one would be led to think that a balanced microbiota can only have benefits as regards digestion. Instead, in addition to this, the perfectly functioning microbiota is able to reinforce our defenses from external threats, keeps inflammation levels under control, reduces the risk of obesity, protects the brain and lungs. What we eat can influence, for better or for worse, the balance of our microbiota. In recent years, various scientific researches have been aimed at understanding the action of different foods on the bacteria of the intestinal microbiota. For example, we now know that probiotics, which are taken with supplements, drinks or yogurt that have it on the label, repopulate the good bacteria of the microbiota, while prebiotics, which we can find in oats, leeks, garlic, onion, artichokes and Jerusalem artichokes feed the microbiota. And now another information is added, namely that even a handful of almonds acts by strengthening our microbiota, reducing inflammation and improving the supply of nutrients, but let's understand better.
The benefits of almonds, the study
Scientists recruited 87 adults, all healthy. Study participants used to eat less fiber than recommended and to prefer unhealthy snacks. The volunteers were thus divided into three groups. The first group was asked to consume 56 grams of whole almonds every day for a month. The second group had to consume the same amount of almonds, but chopped, the third group instead had to eat, every day, a muffin, which did not contain almonds but the same amount of calories as the handful of almonds. What emerged was that, after a month, those who ate almonds, both whole and chopped, had an increase in butyrate. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that is the main nourishment for the cells that line the colon, helping them to do their job better. When the colon cells are able to carry out their function, the intestinal wall is strong and not inflamed, the pathogens are countered and the nutrients absorbed effectively. Not only that, those who ate almonds also had higher levels of unsaturated fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and manganese. In addition, the consumption of almonds had also increased the peristaltic movements, with benefits therefore in case of constipation.
A little more than a handful of almonds a day therefore helps protect the health of the intestinal microbiota and hence that of the entire organism. Almonds turn out to be an excellent snack, for example in the middle of the morning, and are able, as evidenced by the research we talked about today, to bring balance in the microbiota, to strengthen the colon, reduce inflammation and increase the absorption of nutrients.