Summary: Consuming an ounce of peanuts or adding a teaspoon of herbs and spices to your daily diet positively impacts the health of your gut bacteria and improves immune function.
Source: Penn State
Adding an ounce of peanuts or about a teaspoon of herbs and spices to your diet daily may affect the composition of gut bacteria, an indicator of overall health, according to new research from Penn. State.
In two separate studies, nutrition scientists investigated the effects of small changes on the average American diet and found improvements in the gut microbiome.
The human gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of microorganisms that live inside the intestinal tract. The bacteria found there can affect nearly every system in the body, including metabolism and building and maintaining the immune system.
“Research has shown that people who have a lot of different microbes have better health and better diets than those who don’t have a lot of bacterial diversity,” said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, professor of nutritional sciences at the ‘Evan Pugh University, Penn State.
For the peanut study, published in the journal Clinical NutritionKris-Etherton and her colleagues compared the effects of snacking on 28 grams (about 1 ounce) of peanuts per day, versus a higher-carb snack — crackers and cheese.
After six weeks, participants who ate the peanut snack showed increased abundance of Ruminococcaceae, a group of bacteria linked to proper liver metabolism and immune function.
In the study on herbs and spices, published in The Nutrition Diaryscientists analyzed the impact of adding herb and spice blends – such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric, rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme – to controlled diets participants at risk for cardiovascular disease.
The team looked at three doses – about 1/8 teaspoon per day, just over 3/4 teaspoon per day, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons per day. After four weeks, participants showed an increase in the diversity of gut bacteria, including an increase in Ruminococcaceae, especially with the medium and high doses of herbs and spices.
“It’s such a simple thing people can do,” Kris-Etherton said. “The average American diet is far from ideal, so I think everyone could benefit from adding herbs and spices. It’s also a way to lower the sodium in your diet but to flavor foods in a way that makes them palatable and, in fact, delicious!Taste really is a major criterion in why people choose the foods they make.
In both studies, the increase in Ruminococcaceae and bacterial diversity was viewed positively, as scientists continue to learn more about the link between gut microbiota and an array of health factors, from blood pressure to weight. . However, Kris-Etherton is quick to point out that more research is needed to understand the full implications.
She said: “We need a lot more research on the microbiome to see what its place is in terms of overall health.”
Peanut Study: The work was supported by The Peanut Institute and Penn State’s Clinical & Translational Research Institute. This research was also supported by a grant to Juniata College, Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-College and Undergraduate Science Education Program, and the National Science Foundation.
Spice Study: This study was funded by the McCormick Science Institute. Additionally, the study was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH. The study also received support for computing resources from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-College and Undergraduate Science Education Program, as well as the National Science Foundation.
About this diet and current microbiome research
Author: Sara LaJeunesse
Source: Penn State
Contact: Sara LaJeunesse – Penn State
Image: Image is in public domain
Original research: Free access.
“Peanuts as a nighttime snack enrich butyrate-producing bacteria compared with an isocaloric low-fat, low-carbohydrate snack in adults with elevated fasting blood glucose: a randomized crossover trial” by Philip A. Sapp and para. Clinical Nutrition
“Herbs and spices modulate gut bacterial composition in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease: results of a predefined exploratory analysis from a randomized, crossover, controlled-diet study” by Kristina S. Peterson et al. Nutrition review
Peanuts as a nighttime snack enrich butyrate-producing bacteria compared with an isocaloric low-fat, low-carbohydrate snack in adults with elevated fasting blood glucose: a randomized crossover trial
Nuts have glucoregulatory effects and influence the composition of the intestinal microbiota. The effect of peanut on the microbiota has not been studied.
The objective was to examine the effect of 28 g/d of peanuts for 6 weeks, compared to an isocaloric low-fat, low-carbohydrate (LFHC) snack, on the composition of the gut microbiota. A secondary objective was to identify functional and active compositional differences in a subset of participants using metatranscriptomics.
In a randomized crossover trial, 50 adults (48% female; 42 ± 15 years; BMI 28.3 ± 5.6 kg/m2; plasma glucose 100 ± 8 mg/dL) consumed 28 g/d of dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts (164 kcal; 11% E carbohydrates, 17% E proteins, 73% E fats and 2.4 g of fibre) or an LFHC snack (164 kcal; 53% E-carbohydrate, 17% E-protein, 33% E-fat and 3 g fibre) for 6 weeks (4-week washout period). Intestinal bacterial composition was measured using 16S rRNA sequencing in the entire cohort. Exploratory metatranscriptomic analyzes were conducted on a random subset (n=24) of samples from the Peanut condition.
No difference between conditions in α or β diversity was observed. Following the consumption of peanuts, Ruminococcaceae were much more abundant [Linear discriminant analysis score (LDA) = 2.8; P = 0.027)] compared to the LFHC. Metatranscriptomics showed increased expression of the K03518 gene (aerobic carbon monoxide dehydrogenase small subunit) after peanut consumption (LDA = 2.0; P = 0.004) and Roseburia intestinalis L1-82 has been identified as a contributor to the increased expression.
Herbs and spices modulate gut bacterial composition in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease: results of a predefined exploratory analysis from a randomized, crossover, controlled-diet study
Herbs and spices are rich in polyphenolic compounds which can influence the bacterial composition of the gut. The effect of culinary doses of herbs and spices consumed as part of a well-defined diet on gut bacterial composition has not been studied previously.
The purpose of this pre-specified exploratory analysis was to examine gut bacterial composition following an average American diet (carbohydrates: 50% kcal; protein: 17%; total fat: 33%; saturated fat: 11%) containing herbs and spices at 0.5, 3.3, and 6.6 gd-1.2100 kcal-1 [low-, moderate-, and high-spice diets, respectively (LSD, MSD, and HSD)] in adults at risk for CVD.
Fifty-four adults (57% female; mean ± SD age: 45 ± 11 years; BMI: 29.8 ± 2.9 kg/m2; waist circumference: 102.8 ± 7.1 cm) were included in this 3-period, randomized, crossover controlled feeding study. Each diet was provided for 4 weeks with a minimum washout period of 2 weeks. At the start and end of each diet period, participants provided a fecal sample for 16S rRNA gene sequencing (V4 region). QIIME2 was used for data filtration, sequence clustering, taxonomy assignment, and statistical analysis.
α-diversity assessed by the metric of observed characteristics ( P = 0.046) was significantly higher after MSD compared to LSD; no other differences between regimes in α diversity were detected. No differences in β diversity were observed between diets ( P = 0.45). Compared to baseline, β-diversity differed after all regimes ( P < .02). An enrichment of the Ruminococcaceae family was observed following HSD compared to MSD (relative abundance = 22.14%, linear discriminant analysis = 4.22, P = 0.03) and LSD (relative abundance = 24.90%, linear discriminant analysis = 4.47, P = 0.004).
Adding herbs and spices to an average American diet induced changes in gut bacterial composition after 4 weeks in adults at risk for CVD. The metabolic implications of these changes deserve further investigation. This trial has been registered on clinicaltrials.gov under number NCT03064932.
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