Fast food is killing your gut bacteria
A British researcher may have found one more reason for people to reconsider their next stop at a drive-thru restaurant.
Processed food can wreak havoc on the bacteria in a person’s gut, according to a new study. When study participants ate only fast food for 10 days, more than 33 percent of their good gut bacteria was killed off and replaced by other types of bacteria.
“Changes in our gut microbe community, or microbiome, are likely to be responsible for much of the obesity epidemic, and consequences like diabetes, cancer and heart disease,” Tim Spector, PhD, lead study author, wrote. “It is clear that the more diverse your diet, the more diverse your microbes and the better your health at any age.”
While many recent studies have found that having plenty of good bacteria can be beneficial to one’s health, Dr. Anshu Chawla, gastroenterologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., believes people should be cautious before buying into the hype.
“There has been a lot of focus recently on gut bacteria and its effects on general health,” Dr. Chawla says.
“Unfortunately, most of the studies are not well controlled and do not have very good cause and effect end points. This study has received a lot of publicity, but has not been replicated on a large scale. The take home message from this study is fairly simple – too much fast food and processed food is not good for your gut or your general health.”
Individuals can support their gut bacteria by consuming a variety of fresh foods, fruits and vegetables, as these help maintain a variety of bacteria that contribute to a person’s general well-being, Dr. Chawla says.
“At this time, there is no practical way to measure the bacteria levels in your gut,” says Dr. Chawla. “But, if you suffer from gas, bloating, constipation or irregular bowels, increasing your intake of probiotics may be helpful.”
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