How junk food harms your gut health: a deep dive

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In our fast-paced lives, grabbing a quick snack or a microwaveable meal seems like the easiest option. But have you ever thought about how this could affect your gut health?

A recent study from McMaster University shows that regularly eating ultra-processed foods can dramatically increase the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

What Are Ultra-Processed Foods?

These are foods that undergo lots of changes before they reach your plate.

They usually contain ingredients you can’t find in your home kitchen and are high in sugar, fat, and salt.

Think of things like sugary cereals, soda, and ready-to-eat meals. The problem? They’re often low in the good stuff like vitamins and fiber.

What Did the Study Find?

The researchers studied 116,087 adults from 21 different countries. They collected data on what these people ate and followed up with them for an average of 10 years.

During this time, they kept track of who was diagnosed with IBD, including specific types like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The results were striking. Compared to people who ate less than one serving of ultra-processed food per day, those who ate five or more servings had an 82% higher risk of developing IBD.

Even those who ate between one and four servings faced a 67% higher risk.

It wasn’t just one type of junk food that was the problem; many kinds were linked to IBD. This included soda, sugary foods, salty snacks, and processed meats.

Interestingly, other types of food like white meat, red meat, fruits, vegetables, and dairy weren’t linked to IBD. This suggests that it’s not the food itself causing the problem, but how it’s processed.

Why Should We Care?

IBD is more common in countries like ours, where people often eat a lot of processed foods. This study shows that our eating habits could be a big part of the problem.

The findings could help us understand how to better prevent these painful and often debilitating diseases.

If you love your gut, it might be time to ditch junk food and opt for something a bit more natural. Your stomach—and your overall health—will thank you.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about berries that can prevent cancer, diabetes, and obesity, and 12 foods that lower blood pressure.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about diet to fight diabetic eye damage, and results showing these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

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