Recent research has demonstrated that improving your gut health by incorporating a few straightforward (and delectable) foods into your regular diet can have a positive effect. And you’re mistaken if you assume it must be vegetables. Actually, spices and peanuts are the secret components for a healthier gut microbiome. In a series of two experiments, the effects of food additives were investigated, but in each case, the baseline gut microbiome was examined and the results were then contrasted with those obtained after the subjects had been on the special diets. Researchers discovered that these modifications promoted strains of the Ruminococcaceae genus, which is typically indicative of healthy liver and intestinal function.
Participants in the first research received a daily evening snack of 28 grams of peanuts. Ruminococcaceae were found to multiply after this for six weeks. This is one of the many different kinds of “good bacteria” that are essential for the healthy operation of our digestive systems. Researchers from Juniata University and Pennsylvania State University did this investigation.
To compare the differences, some individuals were given peanuts to munch on, while others were given low-fat, higher-carbohydrate snacks. The subjects were asked to abstain from eating peanuts until after the study period since they had higher fasting glucose levels at the beginning of the study.
One researcher from the peanut study as well as other academics from the same universities worked on a second study that focused on spices. The individuals in the herb trial also had heart disease risk factors, such as higher triglycerides and high blood pressure, as well as type 2 diabetes risk markers, such as bigger midsections and high fasting glucose.
A teaspoon of spices added to food each day had an impact on the same beneficial gut bacterium, Ruminococcaceae, according to research. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and bay leaf are among the spices from the Lamiaceae, Apiaceae, and Lauraceae families that were used in the study.
Herbs include complex molecules known as phenols, which is the working theory for why they can have an impact on gut health. Micronutrients called polyphenols can be found in foods made from plants.
Antioxidants and flavonoids, which have long been hailed as beneficial to health, are among these polyphenols. It turns out that these plant components can also serve as the foundation for healthy gut flora.
The ability of herbs, like other plant foods, to add non-digestible mass or fiber to foods, which can also serve as habitats for beneficial microorganisms in the stomach, is another way that herbs might alter the gut biome.
In all experiments, fecal samples were collected and their Ruminococcaceae abundance was determined over the course of many weeks. According to the study on herbs, Herbs and Spices Modulate Gut Bacterial Composition in Adults at Risk for CVD: Results of a Prespecified Exploratory Analysis from a Randomized, Crossover, Controlled-Feeding Study, participants were not screened for their eating habits prior to the study, so there may have been many other factors that affected the results. For the first time, the impact of spice levels in food on gut microbiomes was assessed.
More studies are required, but it seems from these studies that increasing your intake of plant-based foods—even ones that don’t seem to be very beneficial for gut health—can actually enhance the balance of bacteria inside your body.