Walnuts may help prevent common inflammatory bowel disease

In a new study, researchers found that eating walnuts could offer protection against ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The research was conducted by a team from UConn Health and Texas A&M University.

Ulcerative colitis is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

In 2015, an estimated 3 million U.S. adults reported being diagnosed with IBD—either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Walnuts are high in natural compounds and phytochemicals, and they have been shown to provide a multitude of health benefits, including protection against inflammation and colon cancer.

In the new study, the team found walnut consumption also offered protection against ulcerative colitis.

They examined how eating walnut dietary supplementation influences health in mice with ulcerative colitis.

Walnuts accounted for 14 percent of the daily diet in the study—equivalent of 20 to 25 walnuts in a human.

The team found after two weeks, there was much less injury to colons during an episode of ulcerative colitis and the repair process of the colonic mucosa seemed to be enhanced following the walnut supplementation.

The process is referenced as a pre-conditioning of the colon by walnut ingestion.

Although it could not be determined whether the pre-conditioned colon was resisting the initial ulcerogenic (ulcer-inducing) damage or facilitating the repair of the damage, the extent of injury in the walnut-treated mice was far less than in the control group.

Moreover, when changes in metabolites in the fecal stream and tissue were assessed, a number of alterations were observed.

Some changes in metabolites which could be key in further understanding how walnuts may be metabolized and working in the colon.

The team hopes future work will be able to determine the active compounds—nutrients, phytochemicals—in walnuts that cause protection

The lead author of the study is Dr. Daniel Rosenberg, professor of medicine.

The study is published in the journal Nutrients.

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