In recent years, numerous studies have been done to better understand the role of gut microbiota in human health, revealing its links to nutrient absorption, digestion, immunity, mental health, and more.1 Consequently, positively influencing the microbiota's composition has direct physiological benefits.
One of the ways to do so is with functional foods. Eating almonds on a regular basis, for example, has been shown to offer a wide range of health benefits, including aiding weight loss and regulating blood sugar levels.2
The purpose of this study was to determine whether almond consumption can alter fecal microbiota composition in overweight and obese adults with high fasting blood glucose.
This 2020 randomized clinical trial was conducted by Australian researchers, who published their results in the Nutrition Research journal.
Participants were 69 overweight and obese adults (body mass index above 27 kg/m2), at an average age of 60 and with elevated fasting plasma glucose (between ≥5.6 and <7.0 mmol/L). The study was set to last for eight weeks.
They were assigned to two groups: the intervention group received two servings of almonds (56 g daily), while the control group was given an isocaloric, high-carbohydrate biscuit snack.
Researchers took various assessments before, during, and after the study to measure the study's outcomes.
Participants in the almond group showed significant changes in microbiota composition as well as increases in bacterial richness, evenness, and diversity. These changes were mainly related to an increased abundance of bacteria of the Ruminococcaceae family.
Fecal pH and moisture content also decreased in the almond group participants. There were no changes in the fecal short chain fatty acid levels or gut permeability.
What Does this Mean?
This study provides evidence on the effects of eating almonds on human gut microbiota, particularly on the abundance and diversity of fecal bacterial species as well as stool pH and moisture in adults with excess weight and high glucose levels.
Further studies are called for to explore almonds' prebiotic effects in more depth and determine their medicinal applications, particularly for individuals with compromised gut health.
- Nutrition Research, Almond consumption affects fecal microbiota composition, stool pH and stool moisture in overweight and obese adults with elevates fasting blood glucose: a randomized controlled trial, 2020
- BMJ. (2018). Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. Retrieved November 26, 2020 from https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2179
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2013). Appetitive, dietary and health effects of almonds consumed with meals or as snacks: a randomized, controlled trial. Retrieved November 26, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3898316/