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How Junk Food Kills Our Much Needed Bacteria Fighters


Most of us confess to occasionally driving through our favorite fast food spot to munch our way through a huge burger with a lot of fries. The dangers of saturated fats, artificial chemicals and extra sugars become mentally suspended, as we indulge. But new research says there are additional problems with our temporary lapses.

British researchers report typical burger and fries junk food, kills our system bacteria that fight obesity, heart disease and cancer.

British professor Tom Spector recruited his son to eat only fast food for 10 days, living on burgers, chips, chicken nuggets and soda. Before he started, he had 3,500 bacterial species in his gut. On the diet he rapidly lost 1,300 species from his gut.

Researchers believe this drop can fuel obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and increase risks for colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. They advise eating as varied a diet as possible including ingredients like garlic, coffee, leeks and celery.

Most people now eat fewer than 20 separate food types and many are artificially refined. Most processed foods come down to only four: corn, soy, meat or wheat.

Changing Diet Directions

As I read about this research I thought of other similar studies that I have heard about. As we look around awareness is growing and more people are eating better. School menus and vending machines are being reviewed, and diets like the Mediterranean Diet are full of tempting incentives to eat better.

But it still sounds like we may need to move even faster and do more to turn the boat around.

We may have to re-educate our taste buds, and those of our kids, to make a real dent in the junk food world. We all know that when we eat a lot of sweets, fats or salty foods we want more.

So we may need to gradually dial everything back and rediscover how delicious meals can be with homemade muffins, bowls of steaming breakfast oats, freshly baked chicken, fresh fish, leafy greens, using healthy oils, and low fat cheeses and Greek yogurts.

Think about what works at your house. Bowls of healthy nuts and fresh berries, great guacamole and veggie chips, or black bean tacos may work just fine.

Veggie lasagna, hearty bowls of homemade vegetable soup and whole wheat pancakes topped with real fruit jelly or honey could work too.

Try shredding carrots, zucchini and onion into the mix for turkey meatloaf or meatballs, and adding baked sweet potatoes and yams to dinner menus. Creating homemade whole wheat pizzas loaded with veggies and low fat cheese is another option.

Wherever we introduce fresh whole food options, we are helping to reshape the health picture.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of T. Carrigan

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