NUTRITION&FOOD Published February25, 2015 By Staff Reporter

Study Shows How Processed Food Damages Gut Health

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Obesity is not a one-dimensional issue. It is so complex researchers are still trying to find out what exactly causes it. These include the belief that it may have been caused by a damage to gut health and low-grade inflammation.

Benoit Chassaing and Andrew Gewirtz, both from Georgia State University's Institute for Biomedical Sciences, released their initial findings that additives found in many processed food can lead to different gut-related diseases and metabolic syndromes. The chemicals in question are carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate 80. These agents are responsible for holding mixtures that should have separated in normal conditions together. Many processed foods such as ice cream contain at least a percent of these emulsifiers.

According to them, these additives have a way of changing the gut flora, or the environment in which bacteria and other microorganisms thrive. A human body has millions of bacteria. Although they are of different types, in an ideal setting, they work harmoniously to fight off infection, kill bad bacteria, and promote good health and immunity for the gut.

However, as a person eats more of these additives there's a huge possibility that this environment is changed, and thus, the way these bacteria interact are also modified. For example, the additives may introduce a growth of new bacteria that start damaging the lining of the intestinal walls. A change in gut flora often leads to diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease.

Moreover, the additives may lead to metabolic syndromes, which include type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome, as the body becomes inflamed.

Note, however, that for the study, the team used lab mice that were then given these additives. After a certain period, they not only gained weight but also developed high sugar and intestinal issues.

History shows that many studies conducted on mice didn't translate very well to humans. Thus, the researchers are taking their study further by testing their hypothesis on humans. 

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