A handful of peanuts and a few pinches of herbs and spices can strengthen your gut in a healthy way, according to two separate studies from Penn State University in the US.
There are trillions of individual microorganisms, consisting of hundreds to thousands of species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, that live in the human stomach and intestines. They are known collectively as the gut microbiome, and their importance to our health is so great that scientists consider it a supporting organ.
Diet, exercise, and medications are just a few of the factors that can affect a person’s gut structure; this means that each individual’s gut community is unique.
If your gut microbiome isn’t nourished and properly nourished, harmful microbes can multiply, while symbiotic ones have more trouble with tasks like dealing with our immune system and breaking down our food.
Scientists are still trying to figure out which features indicate the healthiest gut communities, but they’re starting to get a better idea as the research progresses.
“Research has shown that people with a large number of different microbes have healthier and better diets than those who do not have as much bacterial diversity,” explains nutrition scientist Penny M. Kris-Etherton.
While we often think of diets in terms of the basics like greens and meats, a significant amount of variation in our cultural and personal preferences comes down to the way we add some vibrancy to our meals.
Kris-Etherton and her colleagues at Penn State are among the first to study the effect of herbs and spices on the composition of the human gut.
In their study, 54 adult participants at risk for cardiovascular disease participated in a four-week randomized controlled feeding trial.
During the trial, everyone adhered to the same general menu designed to reflect the average American diet. Some participants were asked to add 0.5 grams (about 0.2 ounces) of spices to their meals, while others were asked to add 3.3 grams or 6.6 grams of spices.
The spice mix included cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, basil, and thyme. Meanwhile, a control group was asked not to add any of these spices to their food.
Stool samples taken before and after the experiment reveal that diets with more spices tend to show greater bacterial diversity.
“It’s a very simple thing that people can do,” says Kris-Etherton.
“The average American diet is far from ideal, so I think anyone can benefit from adding herbs and spices. It’s also a way to reduce sodium in your diet, but sweeten food in a way that makes it tasty and actually delicious!”
The new findings support recent research suggesting that herbs and spices are a natural prebiotic that feeds healthy bacteria in the human gut.
A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot study in 2019 found that a 5-gram capsule of a spice blend containing cinnamon, thyme, ginger, black pepper and cayenne pepper triggered changes seen in the gut microbiome. on weekdays.
However, in a more recent study, the spice mix was slightly different and was included directly in the participants’ daily meals.
Those who ate moderate to high amounts of spice, equivalent to about 3/4 teaspoon per day and about 1 1/2 teaspoons per day, showed an abundance of gut bacteria called Ruminococcaceae. This family of microbes is generally found in higher numbers in healthier human adults, although its precise role in the gut is unclear.
Participants in the study who ate spices also showed lower numbers of pro-inflammatory molecules in the gut, indicating a possible anti-inflammatory effect.
More research is needed to fully understand which spices affect gut microbes and why, but this isn’t the only dietary supplement that has been shown to increase certain gut bacteria.
A new randomized controlled trial, also from Penn State, is the first to investigate the effect of peanuts on the microbiota.
The study lasted more than six weeks and included 50 adults, all fed the same daily diet. At the end of each day, after dinner but before bed, participants ate either 28 grams of dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts or a small piece of cheese and crackers.
In the group that ate nuts as in spices in the previous study, Ruminococcaceae bacteria were significantly higher in the participants’ guts at the end of the study.
There’s still a lot that scientists don’t understand about the gut microbiome, but for now it probably wouldn’t hurt to add a pinch of spice to your diet. – and may even help. If nothing, it will add some flavor.
Spice research published Nutrition Journaland peanut study published Clinical Nutrition.