It’s no secret that your food choices have a huge impact on your health: everything from your weight to the quality of your sleep can be traced back to the food on your plate. One of the reasons diet is so important to good health is that what you eat impacts your gut or microbiome.
Gut health is inextricably linked to nearly every aspect of your well-being, including brain function, risk of chronic disease, weight management, and sleep quality. While there are plenty of gut-healthy foods out there, a new study highlights the surprising health benefits of a common snack. Read on to find out what it is and how eating it can improve your overall health.
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If you’re looking for better ways to manage your weight or sleep better, consider following a more gut-friendly diet.
The bacteria in your gut (also called your microbiome) is home to over 50 trillion bacteria, some good, some bad. Consuming a plant-based diet high in fiber, prebiotics, and fermented foods containing probiotics feeds the “good” bacteria, helping them to thrive and contributing to excellent overall health. On the other hand, eating processed foods causes harmful bacteria to grow, which negatively impacts your health.
The balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut significantly influences several aspects of your health that contribute to weight management and sleep, including metabolism and immune function.
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Instead of reaching for the bag of chips or the box of cookies the next time you want a snack, do your microbiome a favor and grab a handful of almonds. Kendra WeeklyRD, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition, says Better life“Almonds are a wonderful food that offers many benefits for different parts of the body. They contain healthy fats, proteins, fibers and micronutrients that can benefit the gut and other organs.”
A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied the impact of almonds on the gut microbiome. Researchers have found that eating 56 grams of almonds a day (about 46 almonds) can improve gut health by supporting levels of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) produced by microbial fermentation of dietary fiber in your tract. lower intestine.
Although the study found that eating almonds caused no change in the abundance of bifidobacteria (healthy probiotics in your gut), the researchers observed that eating more almonds increased the production of butyrate, which provides several health benefits. For example, this gut-friendly SCFA is anti-inflammatory, protective against colon cancer, and strengthens the cells that line your gut, which in turn supports your gut-blood barrier by preventing bacteria and other microbes from entering. in your blood.
“Butyrate is produced when bacteria in your gut break down fiber in the colon. Butyrate is the main source of energy for happy cells in the colon, so the more butyrate that gets into the colon, the more efficiently the colon can function. “, explains Weekley. .
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If you don’t like almonds alone, you can still enjoy the health benefits of these nuts by consuming almond butter or using almond flour. However, serving size recommendations will change depending on the form you choose. In the study, participants consumed two 28-gram servings of almonds daily for four weeks, or about a handful twice daily. Using this metric, one to two servings of almond butter or almond flour are safe and effective for gut health.
“Almonds, in addition to a balanced diet with other nutrient-dense foods, may support a healthy gut microbiome, which may aid sleep and metabolism,” says Weekley. “Numerous studies have linked gut health to better sleep. Additionally, almonds are digested more slowly and may help someone feel fuller for longer, aiding weight loss.”
Be careful not to overdo it on the almonds, though. Almonds are calorie dense, due to their high fat content, so eating too many can lead to unintended weight gain.
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