Walnuts and Gut Health – the science
A recent study led by by Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD, Research Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, discovered that eating walnuts can change the makeup of bacteria in the gut suggesting a new way that walnuts can be linked to better health. The research and findings are published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
Lauri Byerley explains “Walnuts have been called a ‘superfood’ because they are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linoleic acid and fiber, and they contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants, now, an additional superfood benefit of walnuts may be their beneficial changes to the gut microbiota.”
Working with a rodent model, the research team added walnuts to the diet of one group, with another as control. They then measured the types and numbers of gut bacteria in each group and compared the results. They differences were clear – in the walnut-eating group, the numbers and types of bacteria changed, as did the way that the bacteria functioned. In particular the researchers discovered a significant increase in friendly bacteria like Lactobacillus.
“We found that walnuts in the diet increased the diversity of bacteria in the gut, and other non-related studies have associated less bacterial diversity with obesity and other diseases like inflammatory bowel disease,” reported Byerley. “Walnuts increased several bacteria, like Lactobacillus, typically associated with probiotics suggesting walnuts may act as a prebiotic.”
Prebiotics are the ‘food’ for the good, friendly bacteria that help our guts be healthy. It generally come from fibre that is strong enough the pass through to the lower intestine, hence the importance of getting at least 30g of fibre per day into your diet. We have lots in Troo Granola – coming from our gluten free jumbo oats and from the chicory root fibre. Additional contributions from Walnuts in some of our recipes (Nutty Troo Granola) will be even more powerful. Tastes delicious as well!
In summary, the researchers concluded that eating walnuts could help rebalance the gut microbe potentially providing a new physiological mechanism for improved health. The research was supported by the American Institute for Cancer Research and California Walnut Commission.