According to 2 new studies, adding a daily ounce of peanuts or about 1 teaspoon of herbs and spices to one’s diet can positively affect the composition of the gut microbiome – a collection of trillions of microorganisms living inside the intestinal tract – and lead to better health.
“Research has shown that people who have a lot of different microbes have better health, and a better diet, than those who don’t have much bacterial diversity,” explained Penny M. Kris-Etherton, a professor of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University who contributed to both study reports.
For the peanut study – published in Clinical Nutrition – the scientists compared the effects of snacking on 28 grams (approximately 1 ounce) of peanuts per day with those of eating a higher carbohydrate snack instead (such as crackers and cheese). After 6 weeks, participants who ate the peanut snack had a higher abundance of Ruminococcaceae, a type of bacteria associated with healthy liver metabolism and immune function.
In the herbs and spices study – published in The Journal of Nutrition – the researchers analysed the impact of adding blends of herbs and spices (including ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, oregano, rosemary, basil, and thyme) to the controlled diets of participants at risk of cardiovascular disease.
The experts examined 3 different doses: about 1/8 teaspoon per day, a bit more than 3/4 teaspoon per day, and about 1½ teaspoons per day. After 4 weeks, participants showed a marked increase in gut bacteria diversity (including, again, the Ruminococcaceae), most notably with the 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 by adding herbs and spices. It’s also a way of decreasing sodium in your diet but flavouring foods in a way that makes them palatable and, in fact, delicious!”
– from an article in Earth.com, edited (3 December 2022)