Walnuts in diet can protect a person against ulcerative colitis and may reduce its impact. The research team at UConn Health and Texas A&M University has studied these results in mice. And the journal “Nutrients” has published this study.
Consumption of walnuts may protect against DSS-induced ulcerative colitis
Including nuts in a person’s diet may offer many health benefits. Among all the tree nuts, walnuts have the highest levels of ꙍ-3 fatty acids. And they also contain a group of phytochemicals and many other nutrients.
These provide a variety of benefits and may guard against diabetes, CVDs, inflammation, and cancer. Besides this, walnuts contain up to 6.4% fiber. That can limit the effects of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
According to a report by the CDC, in 2015, IBD has affected about 3 million U.S. adults. The study has found that walnuts can reduce the impact of ulcerative colitis (UC). That includes the chronic inflammation of the GI tract. And it is also a form of IBD along with Crohn’s disease (CD).
The research team has analyzed the effects of walnuts in a colitis model. In this model, the research team has induced mucosal injury in the colon by DSS – dextran sodium sulfates. DSS is a known ulcerogenic agent which may lead to UC.
The team has given walnuts to these mice models for about two weeks. These walnuts weigh nearly 14% of the daily diet. That is about 20 – 25 walnuts in a human. The results of the study have shown that the walnut diets in mice have protected them against DSS induced – UC.
Pre-conditioning by walnut consumption may reduce the level of injury caused by ulcerative colitis
The team noticed that after having walnut diets, the mice have far less injury in the colons during an episode of UC. Also, there was an increase in the repair process of the colon’s mucosa. The team has attributed this process as pre-conditioning of the colon by walnut intake.
Still, the research team hasn’t found that whether the pre-conditioned colon resists the initial ulcerogenic damage or speeds up its repair. But in both cases, the level of injury in mice having walnut diets was much less than those without walnut-treatment.
The study has also assessed the changes in metabolite levels of the tissues and the fecal stream. After giving walnuts for two weeks, the team observed many changes in these levels. They found that many metabolites in lumen and tissue have increased and led to protection against UC.
This analysis has shown that some shifts in metabolites can also tell how walnuts may metabolize and work in the colon. The scientists are also working to understand the effects of walnut diets on humans.
And currently, Rosenberg’s lab is carrying out a trial in this matter. In this trial, the participants are taking 2 oz. of walnuts daily for 3 weeks before a colonoscopy. And later, the team will analyze their metabolites and gut microbiota.
Overall, this study shows that walnuts intake may reduce the impact of ulcerative colitis. This result doesn’t suggest having such a walnut diet. But it indicates a need for further research to find the active components (phytochemicals or other nutrients) in the walnuts that leads to this protection. In the future, these findings may help to find a way to prevent UC.