For Gut-friendly Holidays, Eat Cranberries

Apart from being a staple in foods for the holiday season (desserts, stuffing, sauces and drinks) and a first-line treatment for urinary tract infections, cranberries receive little notice in the wide world of whole foods, an undeserved sign of disrespect.

Many health experts consider cranberries a superfood due to their low-calorie/high-fiber content and being fill to the brim with important antioxidants and nutrients (resveratrol, vitamins C, E and A and copper).

A study featured recently in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found another important use for cranberries as a natural prebiotic, non-digestible fiber or carbs that feed the bacteria living in your gut.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amhurst made this discovery when feeding cranberry-derived carbohydrates called xyloglucans to gut bacteria in the lab.

The real benefit from eating cranberries, says lead researcher Dr. David Sela, is the ability to eat for two, as it supports our own nutrition as well as the beneficial bacteria that lives in our gut.

“When we eat cranberries, the xyloglucans make their way into our intestines where beneficial bacteria can break them down into useful molecules and compounds,” says Dr. Sela, according to a press release.

Under the microscope, Dr. Sela and his research team observed these prebiotic compounds from cranberries feeding bifidobacteria under the microscope, an important process in protecting the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

Cranberries aren’t the only natural sources for prebiotics. They’re also a healthy component in many whole foods, from bananas, jicama and apples to artichokes, onions, leeks and almonds.

Just like almonds that contain a lot of fat, you have to be careful about eating a lot of cranberries too. Many commercial brands of juices and dried fruits add a lot of unnecessary sugar — 25-30 grams for juices and 8 grams for dried fruits — per 8-ounce serving, so eating them in moderation is a healthy choice.

If you want to add some prebiotic protection for your gut and cranberries aren’t your favorite food, look for a probiotic that contains fructooligosaccarides (FOS).

FOS is a natural substance derived from plant sugars and a proven prebiotic used in products like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids).

Almonds may help Boost your Gut Health

In the world of nutrition, there’s little doubt that almonds are among the most popular, delicious and healthy foods to eat.

A single cup of raw almonds (143 grams) provides a surplus of measurable benefits from a variety of vital nutrients, including calcium, niacin, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, protein and fiber, according to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Chock full of unsaturated fats, almonds have also been associated with a growing number of health benefits, from reducing the risk of heart disease to lowering two of the markers linked to metabolic syndrome and promoting satiety (feeling full after eating).

As the positive health news has spread (with much help from the Almond Board of California), the profile of almonds has risen exponentially, along with the number of products sold at your neighborhood grocery store.

In fact, almonds lead the pack in new food products worldwide by a sizeable margin (9.7 percent) and over all nuts combined (7.1 percent), which may explain why you’ve been seeing more brands of almond milk sitting next to traditional milk products.

Almonds: Food for the Gut

A recent study funded by the Almond Board of California has discovered one more healthy reason to eat almonds and almond skins. Almonds serve as prebiotics—non-digestible carbohydrates/plant fiber that feed the good bacteria already living in the gut.

In this study, patients boosted amounts of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus in the human gut significantly after eating almonds or almond skins for just six weeks.

Scientists monitored the health of 48 healthy patients (ages 18-22) who supplemented their daily diets with 56 grams (almost 2 ounces) of almonds, 10 grams of almond skins or 8 grams of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), a natural substance derived from plant sugars that’s used as a prebiotic in products like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

During the six-week observation period, the collective gut bacteria of volunteers were affected positively but at different times.

For example, groups who ate almond skins or FOS enjoyed increased amounts of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria from the beginning. On the other hand, those who consumed roasted almonds didn’t experience growth in good gut bacteria like the other groups until week six. By the end of the study, both almond groups reached the same elevated levels of good gut bacteria.

Additionally, the gut health benefits linked to eating almond skins lasted two additional weeks after the six-week period ended.

One more benefit from eating roasted almonds or almond skins: Levels of Clostridium perfringens, a spore-forming, gram-positive bacterium that contributes to food poisoning, were greatly reduced.

However, before you start loading up on almonds, be aware that up to 80 percent of this nut is fat, so you should eat them in moderation.

When looking for a good probiotic, be sure it contains FOS or another proven prebiotic that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic or EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids) with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria.


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