Prunes could help improve gut health in older women

Credit: Markus Spiske / Unsplash.

In a study from Pennsylvania State University, scientists found that daily prune consumption may improve the gut-fecal microbiome of older women.

The fecal microbiome—the ecosystem of microorganisms found in one’s fecal matter—reflects an individual’s overall gut health.

The team showed strong enrichment in bacteria from the family Lachnospiraceae.

This group of bacteria has been linked to an ability to decrease inflammation in the body and help maintain the integrity of the gut barrier.

In the study, the team aimed to characterize the effect of prune supplementation on the gut microbiome of older women.

Menopause is marked by a decline in ovarian hormones, which may negatively impact the gut microbiome.

In turn, these changes in the gut microbiome potentially contribute to health risks, including increased body fat, decreased metabolism, and insulin resistance.

Previous research has shown that postmenopausal women experience health benefits from consuming prunes.

The team says it is likely that the gut microbiome helps facilitate these benefits.

The researchers tested 143 postmenopausal women between the ages of 55 and 75.

Participants were assigned to one of three treatment groups: no prunes (n=52), 50g prunes per day (n=54), or 100g prunes per day (n=37).

The team found substantial microbiome changes for those in the prune treatment groups—most notably, the enrichment of the Lachnospiraceae family of bacteria.

They suggest that these results may have implications for the use of prunes as a whole-food intervention for gut health.

Consumers are becoming more concerned with their gut health and this study supports prunes’ long-standing reputation as a gut-healthy food.

Prunes are a natural, whole food that is easy and convenient for consumers to incorporate into their daily meals or snacks.

This new study adds to the growing body of research that explores the link between prune consumption, gut health, and the potential favorable effects on other major body systems.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies that eating nuts may help reduce risks of the gut lesion and cancer, and how tea and coffee influence your risk of high blood pressure.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about plant nutrients that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The study was conducted by Mary Jane De Souza et al and published in Food & Function.

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