A new study suggests that eating junk food kills stomach bacteria that defend our body from obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, inflammatory bowel conditions and autism.
The human stomach contains around 3,500 different microbial species, which all together, which all together weighs three pounds.
Scientists now consider that a diet based on inadequate variety of highly processed food, instead of those found in a healthy balanced diet, can destroy more than one third of the number of stomach flora.
This finding would clarify why some people gain weight while others don’t, regardless of eating similar amounts of fat, sugar, protein and carbohydrates.
The discovery arose from studies led by Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London.
He recruited the help of his 23-year genetics student son Tom, who approved of eating 10 days only a fast-food-only diet on McDonald’s hamburgers, chips, chicken nuggets and Coca Cola.
Tom said: “Before I started my father’s fast food diet there were about 3,500 bacterial species in my gut, dominated by a type called firmicutes.
“Once on the diet I rapidly lost 1,300 species and my gut was dominated by a group called bacteriodetes. The implication is that the McDonalds diet killed 1,300 of my gut species”.
Nonetheless, Professor Spector’s discoveries seem to support existing research which signifies that the problem is more complicated than just eating too much.
Stomach flora plays an important role in killing potentially harmful microbes, normalizing the metabolism.
They produce digestive enzymes together with vitamins A and K, which are necessary to assist absorption into the body of vital minerals such as calcium and iron.
Bacterial imbalances have been connected to increasing the chances of developing conditions such as colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. There is evidence that autism may also lower stomach bacterial activity.
The detailed structure of our microbial populations varies from different countries. There are also suggestions that obesity might be transferable..
Examinations conducted by the University of Colorado in the US discovered that transferring bacteria from an overweight human to a rat lead the animal to gain weight. Lean mice put in a cage together with overweight ones also became obese.
Professor Spector stated: “Microbes get a bad press, but only a few of the millions of species are harmful, and many are crucial to our health.
“What is emerging is that changes in our gut microbe community, or microbiome, are likely to be responsible for much of our obesity epidemic, and consequences like diabetes, cancer and heart disease”
He added that disregarding fat and sugar are less important to a healthy diet than making sure the food one eats is as diverse and as natural as possible.
His advice agrees with studies suggesting that Belgian Beer, garlic, coffee, leeks and celery are ideal foods for promoting healthy stomach flora.
Professor Spector said: “Fifteen thousand years ago our ancestors regularly ingested around 150 ingredients in a week.
“Most people nowadays consume fewer than 20 separate food types and many, if not most, are artificially refined.
“Most processed food products come, depressingly, from just four ingredients: corn, soy, wheat or meat”.
A spokesman for McDonald’s said: “We have a wide range of foods available in our restaurants and McDonald’s can be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet.
“We have also reformulated our ingredients to reduce the amount of salt, fat and sugar and removed trans fats entirely from our menu”.