Adding a daily ounce of peanuts or about a teaspoon of herbs and spices to your diet may affect the composition of gut bacteria, an indicator of overall health, according to new research from Penn State. In two separate studies, scientists studied the effects of small changes to the average American diet and found improvements to the gut microbiome.
The human gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of microorganisms that live inside the intestinal tract. The bacteria there can affect nearly all systems of the body, including metabolism and the building and maintaining of the immune system.
Research has shown that people who have a lot of different microbes in their gut have better health, and a better diet, than those who don’t have much bacterial diversity.
About the peanut study
For the study, researchers compared the effects of snacking on 28 grams (approx. 1 ounce or 28 whole peanuts) of peanuts per day versus crackers and cheese, a higher carbohydrate snack.
At the end of six weeks, participants who ate the peanut snack showed an increased abundance of Ruminococcaceae, a group of bacteria linked to healthy liver metabolism and immune function.
The herbs and spices study
For this study, scientists analyzed the impact of adding blends of herbs and spices — such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric, rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme — to the controlled diets of participants at risk for cardiovascular disease.
The team examined three doses — about 1/8 teaspoon per day, a little more than 3/4 teaspoon per day and about 1 1/2 teaspoon per day.
At the end of four weeks, participants showed an increase in gut bacteria diversity, including an increase in Ruminococcaceae, most notably with the medium and high doses of herbs and spices.
In both studies, the increase in Ruminococcaceae and bacterial diversity was viewed positively, as scientists continue to learn more about the connection between the gut microbiota and a spectrum of health factors, from blood pressure to weight.
However, the researchers were quick to point out that more research is needed to understand all of the implications.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.