Hippocrates said that “All diseases begin in your gut.”
And, now current research is proving this almost 2,500 year old axiom to be absolutely true.
Problems with the bacteria in your gut have now been linked to everything from obesity and irritable bowel syndrome to depression, immune system malfunction, hormonal issues, heart disease and cancer.
So in essence, not having the right balance of gut bugs could leave you fat, sad, sick and in danger of a deadly disease.
The best way to counter this problem is to get plenty of probiotics — either through supplementation or consuming fermented foods like kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut — and supporting them with prebiotics, which amounts to undigested plant fiber.
Sounds delicious doesn’t it?
Well, if you’re a picky eater and not looking forward to any of those foods to boost your gut health (even though you shouldn’t pass them up), you’re in luck…
There’s a tasty snack that almost everyone likes, and research shows it can improve your gut health by not only increasing the amount of good bacteria populating your intestines, but also enhancing their ability to keep you healthy.
Of mice and guts
The researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center worked with mice, feeding one group a diet that included walnuts while the other group was fed a diet without the tasty superfood. They then measured the types and numbers of gut bacteria in the descending colon and compared the results.
In the walnut-eating group, the numbers and types of bacteria changed for the better — producing a significant increase in beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus.
“We found that walnuts in the diet increased the diversity of bacteria in the gut, and other non-related studies have associated less bacterial diversity with obesity and other diseases like inflammatory bowel disease,” says Dr. Lauri Byerley, Ph.D., head researcher for the study. “Walnuts increased several bacteria, like Lactobacillus, typically associated with probiotics suggesting walnuts may act as a prebiotic.”
Prebiotics are dietary substances that act as food for bacteria and help promote the numbers and activity of beneficial bacteria.
Good nuts for a good gut
Considering how vital your gut is to your overall health and well-being the decision to add walnuts to your diet to get these important prebiotics should be an easy one. Eating seven to nine walnuts per day should be enough to give you the prebiotics you need.
Here are a few tips to help you pick out the best walnuts and store them properly so that you get the most benefits.
Walnuts are available in markets year round but there are a few things you should look for:
- The walnut should be bright brown in color, compact and uniform in size.
- They should be free from spots, molds and any kinds of cracks.
- When you pick them up, they should feel heavy for their size.
Keep the following in mind for storage:
- If your walnuts are shelled, keep them in airtight containers and place them in refrigerators for proper storage.
- In case of the unshelled walnuts, storing them in a cool, dry place will allow them to remain fresh for several months.
No matter how you choose to incorporate prebiotics into your diet, whether through walnuts or one of the other foods above, you’ll rest assured knowing you’re doing something good for your digestive tract, heart, brain and weight.
- Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease — Gastroenterology & Hepatology
- LSUHealthNO Research Finds Walnuts May Promote Health by Changing Gut Bacteria — LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans
- Changes in the Gut Microbial Communities Following Addition of Walnuts to the Diet — The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry