In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on gut health, and how building the right bacteria in your gut can help to ward off a number of mental and physical conditions. The key to building a healthy gut microbiome is to eat a variety of beneficial gut foods, and believe it or not - pistachios are one of them!
What makes pistachios great for your gut?
Pistachios are a fantastic nutrient-dense nut, filled with a number of essential macro and micronutrients, including antioxidants, healthy fats, and, most notably for your gut - fiber.
A single serving of pistachios (one ounce) contains roughly three grams of insoluble fiber. This fiber moves through the digestive system and is digested and fermented by your gut bacteria into short-chain fatty acids, which, in turn, help to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and development of digestive disorders.
Pistachios feed your butyrate-producing gut bacteria.
Of the short-chain fatty acids produced by the digestion of pistachio fiber, butyrate is perhaps the most important because it is responsible for providing colonic cells with approximately 70% of their energy! Put simply, without sufficient butyrate in your gut, your colonic cells may begin to digest themselves and die.
Above all other nuts, pistachios, in particular, have been found to help increase the number of butyrate-producing bacteria in the gut the most.
Pistachios can help to relieve constipation.
In addition to feeding your essential butyrate-producing bacteria, the fiber in pistachios is also great at preventing constipation, helping waste to pass through your intestines more easily.
Pistachios increase your levels of good gut bacteria.
Pistachios are a natural prebiotic, feeding your good gut bacteria so that they multiply and outnumber harmful bacteria. In one small study conducted in 2012, researchers found that participants who ate pistachios every day were able to increase their number of good gut bacteria, even more so than another test group who were eating almonds!
Can pistachios be bad for your gut?
In certain cases, some people find that they experience bloating, nausea, and pain in their stomach when eating pistachios. This discomfort is most often caused by a bad reaction to fructan, a type of carbohydrate. Fructan can be found in many types of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, as well as in several types of cereals and grains, with some manufacturers even adding fructan to their products to increase their fiber content!
The most common symptoms of a fructan intolerance are gas, bloating, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and cramps. If you find that you experience these symptoms when eating pistachios, then you could have a sensitivity to foods that are high in fructans and may need to try an elimination diet. Click here for a list of high-fructan foods that you may need to avoid.