How Walnuts May Improve Colon Health

Nuts have long been one of the most under-appreciated health foods. Despite being packed with protein, fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, and essential vitamins and minerals, nuts seem to suffer from a big PR problem. In fact, it is likely that it’s the fats and the calories (even though they are, in fact, healthy fats and calories) that scare off many people who would otherwise enjoy this healthy snack.

PR problem or not, scientific data continues rolling in--and virtually all of it points to the numerous health benefits of eating nuts. One recent study on the effects of walnuts on the microbiome underscores this point. Researchers at UConn Health and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine found that eating regular walnuts could lead to a reduced risk for developing colon cancer.

This study, published this past May, showed that mice fed a diet rich in walnuts developed colon cancers at a much lower rate. Dr. Daniel W. Rosenberg of UConn Health, the principle investigator in this study, told an interviewer "There is accumulating evidence that eating walnuts may offer a variety of benefits related to health issues like cancer. This study shows that walnuts may also act as a probiotic to make the colon healthy, which in turn offers protection against colon tumors."

One of the most interesting aspects of this research--especially for us here at CosmosID--is exactly why and how walnuts improve colon health. As follow up research at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine showed, the reason may have a lot to do with the bacteria that live in our guts. Walnuts may help promote a certain type of bacteria that digests fibers with anti-inflammatory properties--therefore protecting against the formation of tumors.

Though further studies will be necessary in order to confirm that walnuts do indeed have cancer-preventing properties, this study offers yet another reminder that our diets--as well as the microbes in our digestive system--have an enormous impact on our overall health and wellbeing.