How Fat Diet May Be Bad for Your Gut Bacteria
How Fat Diet May Be Bad for Your Gut Bacteria.
The human gut is home to over 100 trillion bacteria, known as the “gut flora.” Having a healthy gut flora is incredibly important for your overall health.
And according to a new study, eating too much fat may be bad for your gut bacteria, a new study from China suggests. Numerous studies in the past two decades have demonstrated links between gut health and the immune system, at one time, our digestive system was considered a relatively “simple” body system, comprised essentially of one long tube for our food to pass through, be absorbed, and then excreted.
What Are Gut Bacteria and Why Are They Considered Important?
Hundreds of species of bacteria reside in your gut. Some of them are friendly, while others are not. Most bacteria in the gut belong to one of four groups: Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteriaor Proteobacteria.
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Each group plays a role in your health and requires different nutrients for growth.
The friendly gut bacteria are important for digestion. They destroy harmful bacteria and other microorganisms and produce vitamin K, folate and short-chain fatty acids.
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When the gut flora contains too many harmful bacteria and not enough friendly bacteria, an imbalance can occur. This is known as dysbiosis.
Based on the study which involved more than 200 young, healthy adults who were assigned to eat either a low, moderate or high-fat diet for six months. Those in the high-fat diet group saw “unfavorable changes” in their levels of certain gut bacteria and the compounds these bacteria produce, the researchers said.
Such changes might have negative consequences” over the long term, such as an increased risk of metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, the authors wrote in the study, published Feb. 19 in the journal Gut.
The findings may be particularly relevant for people in China and other countries where diets are increasingly becoming more “Westernized,” compared with the traditional diets of the region. The findings might also apply to people in developed countries like the U.S. who already have diets with high fat intake, but more research is needed to examine this, the authors said. [5 Ways Gut Bacteria Affect Your Health]
In addition, the study was conducted in young and healthy adults (ages 18 to 35 years old), so it’s unclear if the findings apply to other groups of people.
Gut Bacteria And Fat
Since your gut bacteria line your intestines, they come into contact with the food you eat. This may affect what nutrients you absorb and how energy is stored in your body.
Previous studies have shown that people’s diets can affect their gut bacteria, and that obesity has been linked to reductions in certain types of such bacteria. Studies have shown that if the gut bacteria from obese people are put into mice, the mice gain weight. This suggests that gut bacteria could affect weight.
This may be due to the effect of bacteria on the digestion of different foods.
For example, humans can’t digest fiber but certain gut bacteria can. By digesting fiber, these gut bacteria produce a number of chemicals that benefit gut health and possibly promote weight loss.
In the new study, participants were randomly assigned to one of three diet groups: The low-fat group, which got 20 percent of their daily calories from fat and 66 percent from carbohydrates; the moderate-fat group, which got 30 percent of daily calories from fat and 56 percent from carbs; and the high-fat group, which got 40 percent of daily calories from fat and 46 percent from carbs.
The total number of calories and amount of protein and fiber in participants’ diet was the same for all groups. The participants also gave blood and stool samples at the start and end of the study.
At the end of the six-month study, participants in the low-fat diet group saw increases in levels of so-called good bacteria called Blautia and Faecalibacterium compared with their levels at the study start; those in the high-fat diet group had decreased levels of these bacteria. Blautia and Faecalibacterium bacteria help produce a fatty acid called butyrate, which is a key source of energy for bowel cells and has anti-inflammatory properties, the researchers said.
Indeed, when the researchers measured levels of butyrate in participants’ stool samples, they saw that those in the low-fat group had increased levels of this compound at the end of the study, while those in the high-fat group had reduced levels.
What’s more, over the course of the study, people in the high-fat diet group experienced increases in levels of bacteria called Bacteroides and Alistipes, which have been linked with Type 2 diabetes.
The study noted that participants in all three diet groups lost weight during the study, with the low-fat diet group losing the most weight. It’s unclear if the weight loss could be related to some of the changes seen in participants’ gut bacteria and metabolic markers, so future research is needed to clarify this, the authors said.
Signs Of An Unhealthy Gut
There are a number of ways an unhealthy gut might manifest itself. Here are most common signs of unhealthy gut:
1. Upset stomach
Stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. A balanced gut will have less difficulty processing food and eliminating waste.
2. A high-sugar diet
A diet high in processed foods and added sugars can decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, which can damage your gut still further.
3. Unintentional weight changes
An imbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat. Weight loss may be caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), while weight gain may be caused by insulin resistance or the urge to overeat due to decreased nutrient absorption.
4. Skin irritation
Skin conditions like eczema may be related to a damaged gut. Inflammation in the gut caused by a poor diet or food allergies may cause increased “leaking” of certain proteins out into the body, which can in turn irritate the skin and cause conditions such as eczema.
5. Autoimmune conditions
Medical researchers are continually finding new evidence of the impact of the gut on the immune system. It’s thought that an unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter the proper functioning of the immune system. This can lead to autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks itself rather than harmful invaders.
7. Food intolerances
Food intolerances are the result of difficulty digesting certain foods (this is different than a food allergy, which is caused by an immune system reaction to certain foods). It’s thought that food intolerances may be caused by poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to difficulty digesting the trigger foods and unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. There is some evidence that food allergies may also be related to gut health.
In the study, the research was carried out at the People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.
How to Improve Gut Health Naturally
Here are some tips on how to improve your gut flora:
- Eat more prebiotic foods:Eat plenty of foods rich in prebiotic fibers, such as legumes, onions, asparagus, oats, bananas and others.
- Consume more probiotics:Probiotics may increase the abundance of healthy gut bacteria. Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir and tempeh, are all excellent sources.
- Make time for quality sleep:To improve sleep quality, try cutting out caffeine late in the day, sleeping in complete darkness and making a structured sleep routine so that you go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
- Reduce stress:Regular exercise, meditation and deep breathing exercises may help reduce your stress levels. If you regularly feel overwhelmed with stress, you may want to consider seeing a psychologist.
- Eat foods rich in polyphenols:Good sources include blueberries, red wine, dark chocolate and green tea. Polyphenols are not digested very efficiently and often make their way to the colon, where they are digested by bacteria.