The soda and chips you snack on every day might not seem like a big deal. Neither does the fast-food meal that helps save you time and keeps you fed. But repeatedly eating these foods could be doing severe damage to the population of gut bacteria that helps keep you healthy.
People who eat many fruit, vegetables, fish, and fiber have more inflammation-fighting bacteria in their guts than fast food lovers. This is likely because food choices help shape gut bacterial populations.
Not only do those with healthier diets have a higher quality microbiome, but fast-food lovers may also be feeding inflammatory microbes that can contribute to a range of chronic health conditions.
The microbiome is the population of bacteria and microbes that naturally live in your gut. It plays a role in metabolism, nutrient absorption, immune defense, and brain function.
There are several studies that associate diet and microbiome. The latest, which was recently published in Gut, found that diets rich in plants and fish had more anti-inflammatory microbes than those who regularly ate fast and processed food.
Researchers found that people who ate more vegetables, fruit, fatty fish, nuts, and fiber-rich grains had higher concentrations of bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids.
Short-chain fatty acids are made when gut bacteria ferment non-digestible fiber. These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects.
On the other hand, people who had a high intake of meat, French fries, and processed snack foods had fewer bacteria that produced short-chain fatty acids and more pro-inflammatory microbes.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the divergence in gut microbial populations appears about as starkly as illness risk for people following the diets.
There are several factors that influence gut health, yet diet may be one of the only controllable factors. It’s also possible that diet’s impact on gut health may promote the worsening of illness.
If you needed another reason to eat more fruits and veggies, or a Mediterranean-style diet, let this be it!
Maybe trade in the chips for some nuts!