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How Western Culture Diets Are Destroying the Gut


Everyone knows that junk food is bad for us – it is called “junk” after all. Diets high in foods that are processed, sugary or fattening, can have several negative effects including excessive weight gain, high blood pressure and even heart disease.

Certain junk food may also hurt your intestines and decrease bowel function. Researchers have been trying to find out the exact ways in which junk food hurts intestinal health, and a recent diet swap experiment offered interesting results.

Researchers had 20 United States based volunteers switch to low-fat, high-fiber diets for two weeks. At the same time, 20 volunteers from a rural part of Africa were given typical junk and fast foods. While the diet swap was only for two weeks, the results were impactful. The American participants were found to have lower rates of bowel inflammation, while the African’s bowel health suffered. The main changes were to the cells lining the gut as well as bacteria that live in the bowel.

Since this study was so short and involved only 40 participants, the results cannot determine a firm conclusion. However, it does fall in line with other studies that show Western diets – which are high in sugar and fat but low in fiber – can harm our bodies. A past study of Japanese immigrants who moved to Hawaii found that it only takes one generation switching to Western diets to increase their risks for colon cancer. Experts state that up to one-third of bowel cancer cases could be avoided by avoiding junk food. It is hoped that this diet swap study will lead to larger studies with the overall goal of educating the public about healthy eating and how to prevent colon and bowel cancers.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Joel Kramer

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