How Walnuts Transform Your Gut Health and Microbiome

From brain health to anti-inflammatory compounds, anti-cancer compounds and more, a growing body of research shows that walnuts are the under-appreciated superfoods that we should elevate to a higher status in our diet. While all of these health benefits are reason enough to love walnuts, exciting new research shows that walnuts can even transform the health of our microbiome, which may actually be reason for walnuts’ amazing health benefits.

A microbiome is the sum of all the microbes that reside in or on our bodies. Every person or other living beings have a microbiome that is a unique signature of that particular being. In other words, no two people have the same microbiome. It is like our microbial fingerprint.

Our microbiomes change over time, depending on the foods we eat, the drugs we take (antibiotics destroy many beneficial bacteria) and other lifestyle factors. Now, research published in the Journal of Nutrition also found that walnuts can have a profoundly beneficial effect on our microbiome.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign explored how walnuts affect the trillions of, mostly-beneficial, gut microbes in humans. Study participants ate walnuts or no walnuts as part of their diet for three weeks. Researchers analyzed fecal and blood samples before and at the end of the three-week study to determine if there had been any changes.

They found an increase in three types of bacteria: Faecalibacterium, Roseburia and Clostridium—all of which secrete a compound known as butyrate when they are exposed to walnuts. Butyrate has been linked to improvements in bowel health. Higher levels of Faecalibacterium have been linked to reductions in inflammation as well as improvements in insulin sensitivity—a factor that improves blood sugar levels and suggest that walnuts may have benefits for diabetics and those people suffering from blood sugar imbalances.

It is too soon to know whether Faecalibacterium are probiotics, but the researchers say that the evidence suggests that is the case. However, don’t go looking for these bacterial helpers in your probiotic supplement as you won’t find them there. To reap the benefits of this bacteria, you’ll simply need to eat more walnuts.

Your face may already be wincing at the thought of eating more of the nuts. As a former walnut-hater, I can tell you that you may not actually hate high quality, fresh walnuts. In my experience, most of the walnuts found in grocery stores, particularly those in the baking ingredients aisle, are old and rancid. When walnuts go rancid they get a disgustingly bitter taste that leaves an unpleasant film in the mouth.

Fresh, raw walnuts are a thing of beauty. They have a delightfully buttery texture and mild, sweet flavor. They make a great addition to salads (especially over a bed of baby spinach with a fruity or citrus vinaigrette), or atop yogurt or bowl of fruit. My sister, the owner of Sweet Greens market café in Southern Ontario makes a delicious quinoa salad with fresh, chopped walnuts, sundried tomatoes and a garlicky vinaigrette. I throw a handful or two along with fresh or frozen fruit and almond milk for my morning smoothie.

And, perhaps my favorite way to use walnuts: I make a delightful vegan, fermented cheese by soaking a cup of walnuts in half a cup of water, along with the contents of a capsule of probiotics, and leave them overnight to culture. Then, I blend them with any flavor additions and a bit of coconut oil until it forms a smooth cheese.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.

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Melisa B8 days ago

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Richard B27 days ago

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Michael Friedmannabout a month ago

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hELEN h5 months ago

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