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Pistachios and Almonds Affect Our Gut Microbiota

Posted by Brad Dennis, Ph.D. on

Pistachios and Almonds Affect Our Gut Microbiota

Increasing the intake of tree nuts is good for our gut health. The majority of the benefits come from the nuts’ phytochemicals and fatty acids. A study found that two tree nuts in particular are of great benefit for our gut: almonds and pistachios. These two nuts also have a lot of fiber, so the question was, might these two nuts also have prebiotic effects? Let’s take a look at the results of the research.

How the study was set up

There were two separate studies with two groups of people, one for pistachios and the other for almonds. Both of the groups were divided into three sub-groups. The control sub-groups ate no nuts, the second ate 1.5 ounces of nuts per day, and the third group ate 3 ounces of nuts per day.

The study lasted 18 days, during which people followed the necessary diet. In addition, during the time period of the study, all of the participants followed the same low-fiber diet. Participants were provided with identical food and meals; the only difference was whether or not they also received either pistachios or almonds in addition to the other food. The diets were also controlled so that people had enough calories to maintain the weight they had when the study began.

Process of analysis

In order to analyse the microbiota, scientists collected fecal samples from each participant on the first day of the study, and then again on the last day. The researchers used three different approaches to analyze the samples:

  1. Quantitative PCR
  2. Gel electrophoresis analysis
  3. Pyrosequencing

During the analysis, researchers also measured the amount of Bifidobacteria that were found in the stool and lactic acid bacteria. These two types of microorganisms are very important, as they help us break down food more easily. They also reside in our digestive tracts and have a positive effect on our gut.

Research Results

After analyzing the study data, the team of researchers concluded that the groups of people who had 3 ounces of nuts every day had a significant increase of beneficial gut bacteria in their systems. In addition, the group of people who had the pistachios showed a large increase in butyrate-producing bacteria, a very beneficial group of gut microbiota. Butyrate is a proven energy source for all epithelial cells and it can greatly improve colon health.

The study proved that both of these nuts had a positive effect on gut microbiota, as the number of bacteria grew, with pistachios being slightly more effective. On top of that, the amount of cell diversity also improved and this is a positive sign, as more diversity means better gut health overall.

Regulating weight with nuts?

Although this research is only a start, there are signs that show that these nuts might be also able to help regulate weight. More healthy bacteria in the gut means that more fiber can be processed and fermented into fatty acids. These acids can influence hormones that make us feel like we are not hungry. On top of that, various research has shown that more diverse gut bacteria means lower blood cholesterol and a lower chance of gaining weight.


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