• A new study finds that eating 56 grams of almonds daily — the equivalent of approximately 46 almonds — can improve gut health by promoting levels of butyrate.
  • The research involved three groups replacing their regular snacks with whole almonds, ground almonds, or an energy-equivalent control muffin.
  • The authors conclude that incorporating almonds into the diet could be a way of increasing fiber intake without triggering gut symptoms.

We are still learning about the human microbiome, the 10–100 trillion microorganismsTrusted Source living in our bodies, primarily in the human gut. Piece by piece, researchers are putting together how this vast and tiny universe operates, and how it influences our health.

An important player in gut health appears to be butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that supports the health of the microbiome itself.

Dr. Alice Creedon explained to Medical News Today:

“Butyrate is important to gut health, as it acts as the primary source of fuel for the cells of the colon, allowing them to function correctly and optimally. It is also involved in signaling to the gut to initiate the process of nutrient absorption.”

“In addition,” said Dr. Creedon, “butyrate produced in the gut can enter the bloodstream where it is involved in the regulation of health in other areas of the body, such as the liver, brain, and lungs.”

Dr. Creedon is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Nutritional Studies at King’s College London. She is also the first author of a new study exploring the value of almonds as a means of supporting the microbiome’s supply of butyrate.

The study demonstrates that eating a healthy handful of almonds each day promotes the production of butyrate.

It appears in The American Journal of Clinical NutritionTrusted Source. The research was funded by the Almond Board of California.

The importance of butyrate

Dr. Creedon’s research documents the benefits of eating about 56 grams, or 2 ounces, of almonds daily — that amounts to about 46 almonds.

“Butyrate supports the gut barrier, which keeps bacteria and other microbes from entering your blood. In doing so, butyrate can help to reduce inflammation, manage conditions like IBS [irritable bowel syndrome], and decrease gastrointestinal discomfort like bloating,” Allison Tallman, a registered dietitian nutritionist, told MNT.

“Butyrate is produced through the fermentation of fiber in the colon. Therefore, increasing fiber in the diet, such as in almonds, increases butyrate levels, which has a positive effect on our gut health,” said Tallman.