Want A Healthier Gut? Adding Spices And Herbs To Your Meals Could Do The Trick, Says Study

Adding a few pinches of herbs and spices to your meals could possibly give your gut a healthy boost.

Want A Healthier Gut? Adding Spices And Herbs To Your Meals Could Do The Trick, Says Study

Participants who added spices to their meals showed an increase in gut bacteria diversity

Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. It's essential to maintain the right balance of these microorganisms for physical and mental health and overall well-being. Any imbalance in gut bacteria may trigger unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms, like diarrhea, as well as mental health issues. 

While eating the right kind of food is the key, adding a few pinches of herbs and spices to your meals could possibly give your gut a healthy boost, Science Alert reported. In two separate studies, nutritional scientists studied the effects of small changes to the average American diet and found improvements to the gut microbiome.

The study was conducted by Kris-Etherton and her colleagues at Penn State to understand the effect of herbs and spices on the composition of the human gut. As a part of the test, 54 adults at risk of cardiovascular disease, took part in a four-week randomized controlled-feeding experiment.

While most of the participants stuck to the same general menu, some of them were asked to add 0.5 grams (about 0.2 ounces) of spices to their meals, while others were asked to add 3.3 grams or 6.6 grams. The blend of spices included cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric, rosemary, oregano, basil, and thyme. A control group, meanwhile, was asked to put none of these spices in their food.

At the end of four weeks, participants showed an increase in gut bacteria diversity. Fecal samples taken before and after the experiment reveal that diets with more spices tend to show greater bacterial diversity. Those participants who ate spices in the study also showed lower numbers of proinflammatory molecules in the gut, indicating a possible anti-inflammatory effect.

"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 flavoring foods in a way that makes them palatable and, in fact, delicious," noted Kris-Etherton. The new findings also support recent research that suggests herbs and spices are natural prebiotics that feeds healthy bacteria in the human gut.
 

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