Friday, July 04, 2008

I’m Nuts for Almonds

Recently published work by the Institute of Food Research has identified potential prebiotic properties of almonds that could help improve our digestive health by increasing levels of beneficial gut bacteria. The study found that finely ground almonds significantly increased the levels of certain beneficial gut bacteria. This effect was not seen when the fat content was removed from the almond preparation, suggesting that the beneficial bacteria use the almond lipid for growth, and this is the basis for the prebiotic effect of almonds.

80% of the immune system is located within the gut. The average healthy person has about 3 pounds of beneficial bacteria in the gut. One type of bacteria most people are familiar with is acidophilus but there are many more. There are more bacteria in the gut than cells in the body. These bacteria are critical for digestion and absorption of nutrients, immune function, and much more.

Unfortunately most people have a deficiency of beneficial bacteria due to poor diets, stress, lack of sleep, chlorinated water, environmental toxins, etc. When the levels of good bacteria decrease "bad" bacteria flourishes and this provides a platform for viral and bacterial infections, parasitic infections, yeast infections, systemic acidity etc.

This imbalance is called dysbiosis. Signs and symptoms of dysbiosis include abdominal bloating and gas, constipation or diarrhea, foul smelling bowel movements, headaches, dizziness, confusion, skin conditions, etc.

If this becomes a chronic lifelong problem then the person can be at risk for all the major diseases; cancer, diabetes, heart disease, neurological problems such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, etc.

Probiotic (meaning "promotes life") bacteria need food to live. One food they like is certain types of healthy fats found in nuts. Almonds and other nuts and probably fatty fish, flax, coconut, and avocados provide these healthy fats for the probiotics to munch and thrive on.

Source: Investigation of the potential prebiotic properties of almond (Amygdalus communis L.) seeds.

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