Don’t argue; but exercise and eat nuts
‘Walnuts interact with the microbiome’ to produce beneficial effects on gut flora, reports The Journal of Nutrition.
- By Peta Bee
- The Times
Run or cycle three times a week
Most top athletes have superior gut health to sofa-surfers, but exercise more often and you too could boost your microbiome — the trillions of bacteria and other microbes that live in your intestinal tract — to elite status.
In a study last year conducted at the University of Illinois, Jeffrey Woods and his team in the exercise immunology research laboratory recruited 18 lean and 14 obese people and assessed their gut microbiomes before prescribing an exercise plan.
For the subsequent six weeks, the participants completed indoor endurance training sessions of 30 to 60 minutes three times a week while eating normally.
It was found that exercise boosted the short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which keep intestinal cells healthy and reduce inflammation, particularly among the leanest people in the study. However levels declined if they slumped back to a sedentary lifestyle.
Try not to pick an argument
Have a tiff with your partner or a work colleague and your gut may pay the price. There is believed to be a strong mind-gut connection, and chronic stress can adversely affect your microbiome.
In an animal study published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research in March, researchers at Georgia State University discovered that a one-off fight or argument caused significant unwanted changes in bacterial status. “We found that even a single exposure to social stress causes a change in the gut microbiota, similar to what is seen following other, much more severe physical stressors,” says Kim Huhman, a professor of neuroscience who led the study.
Eat a dozen walnuts a week
A diet rich in gut-friendly foods such as leeks, onions, asparagus and fermented produce is known to boost the health of the microbiome. Adding walnuts could bring further benefits, suggests a study published in The Journal of Nutrition this year.
Hannah Holscher, the assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois and author of the study, says she found that a diet containing 42g of walnuts a week (about 12 to 15 nuts) “increases microbes that produce butyrate, a beneficial metabolite for colonic health” and that the “walnuts interact with the microbiome” to produce beneficial effects.