Peanuts, herbs and spices may positively impact the gut microbiome – ScienceDaily

Adding a daily ounce of peanuts, or about a teaspoon of herbs and spices, to your diet can affect the composition of gut bacteria, an indicator of overall health, according to a new Penn State study. In two separate studies, nutritionists examined the effects of small changes in the average American diet and found improvements in the gut microbiome.

The human gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of microorganisms that live in the gut. The bacteria there can affect almost every system in the body, including metabolism and the development and maintenance of the immune system.

“Research has shown that people with many different microbes have better health and better nutrition than people with low bacterial diversity,” said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition at Evan Pugh University. Pennsylvania.

For the peanut study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, Kris-Etherton and her colleagues compared the effects of snacking with 28 grams (about 1 ounce) per day of peanuts to a higher-carb snack—crackers and cheese. At the end of six weeks, the participants who ate the peanut snack showed an increased frequency of Ruminococcaceae, a group of bacteria linked to healthy liver metabolism and immune function.

In the Herbs and Spice Study published in The Journal of Nutrition, scientists analyzed the effects of adding blends of herbs and spices — such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric, rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme — on the controlled diets of participants at risk for cardiovascular disease. The team looked at three doses — about 1/8 teaspoon per day, a little over 3/4 teaspoon per day, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons per day. At the end of four weeks, participants showed an increase in gut bacterial diversity, including an increase in Ruminococcaceae, most notably with medium and high doses of herbs and spices.

“It’s such a simple thing that people can do,” Kris-Etherton said. “The average American diet is far from ideal, so I think everyone could benefit from adding herbs and spices. It’s also a way to lower sodium in your diet but flavor foods in a way that makes them palatable and actually delicious! Flavor is really a top reason why people choose the foods they do.”

In both studies, the increase in Ruminococcaceae and bacterial diversity was viewed positively as scientists continue to learn about the link between gut microbiota and a spectrum of health determinants, from blood pressure to weight. However, Kris-Etherton is quick to point out that more research is needed to understand all of the effects.

She said, “We need a lot more research into the microbiome to see where its proper place is in terms of overall health.”

Other authors on the papers are as follows:

Peanut study: Philip A. Sapp, Penn State Department of Nutrition Sciences; Elke A. Arnesen, Jeremy R. Chen See, and Regina Lamendella, Department of Biology, Juniata College and Wright Labs; and Kristina S. Petersen, Pennsylvania State University Department of Nutritional Sciences and Texas Tech University Department of Nutritional Sciences.

The work was supported by the Peanut Institute and Penn State’s Clinical & Translational Research Institute. This research was also supported by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to Juniata College through the Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program and by the National Science Foundation.

Herb and Spice Study: Kristina S. Peterson, Penn State Department of Nutrition Sciences and Texas Tech University Department of Nutritional Sciences; Samantha Anderson, Jeremy R. Chen See, Jillian Leister, and Regina Lamendella, Juniata College Biology Department and Wright Labs.

This study was funded by the McCormick Science Institute. In addition, the study was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH. The study also received computer resource support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program and the National Science Foundation.

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