Even die-hard fast food fans know by now that it isn’t a healthy diet move. The saturated fat, the excess salt, sugar and likelihood of artificial ingredients all increase your risk of developing a number of health issues, especially if you consume fast food regularly.
And now, there’s even more compelling evidence for avoiding the stuff. According to new research, regularly eating fast food for just one week can kill as much as one-third of the healthy gut bacteria, crucial not just for digestive function, but also for boosting immune function, helping to breakdown and absorb nutrients and play other critical roles in the body’s health, including maintaining a healthy weight.
Shape MagazineThe new study, led by Tim Spector, Ph.D, author of “The Diet Myth,” put his own son under the microscope. According to , Spector’s son ate fast food exclusively for one week. At the onset of the study, his son’s microbial count was at about 3,500 different types of bacterial species. At the end of the week—and to the shock of most everyone involved in the study—Spector’s son’s microbial diversity had dropped to just 1,300 species. Not only that, there was a new dominant strain of bacteria called bacteroidetes in his son’s digestive system, which had been formerly dominated by a type called firmicutes.
"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," Spector wrote. "It is clear that the more diverse your diet, the more diverse your microbes and the better your health at any age."
Spector’s study demonstrates the need for more comprehensive research into the issue of how fast food items can alter gut bacteria. It’s also a healthy reminder about the importance of eating probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurts, cultured products like sauerkraut, kimchi and miso paste, all of which help to build friendly gut bacteria.
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