A few days binging on junk food promotes the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria. The human gut microbiome is a complex system of many thousands of different types of bacteria that live in the large intestine.

Studies have shown that altering the bacteria in the large intestine is linked to depression, increases risk of obesity and increases risk of adverse immune reactions.

Keeping the gut microbiome healthy is best achieved by maintaining an environment that allow the bacteria to thrive.

Fruits and vegetables, including indigestible dietary fibre and polyphenols, help fuel a healthy gut microbiome, as does sleeping, exercise and relaxation.

Researchers investigated the effects of a weekend binge of unhealthy foods on the gut microbiome. The results showed that three days of junk food were enough to alter the gut microbiome, with large increases in the types of unhealthy bacteria found in disease.

These changes were accompanied by an unhealthy shift in whole body health with early and subtle signs of an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. It’s not yet clear if the gut microbiome helped cause the shift in whole body health or just occurred at the same time.

Implications

A healthy gut, particularly the bacteria that live in the large intestine, is an important feature of maintaining optimal health.

Just a few days eating of unhealthy diet can result in a substantial shift in the type of bacteria that thrive in the large intestine.

Last Reviewed: 23/08/2019

© Norman Swan Medical Communications.



References

Kaakoush NO et al. Alternating or continuous exposure to cafeteria diet leads to similar shifts in gut microbiota compared to chow diet. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research 2016;DOI:10.1002/mnfr.201500815.