The rats were given a diet of 3 choices for 16 weeks: 1. healthy diet 2. consistent diet of junk 3. cycled between the healthy diet with 4 days of this pattern, followed by 3 days of junk food diet. You may be wondering what happened?
Well the negative effects observed in the cycled diet to the gut flora were the same changes seen in an all junk food diet, which was very different than in the first group that maintained a health diet daily. Also, the less than stellar diet reduced the abundance of microbial species capable of metabolising flavonoids, which have been suggested to not only assist in weight loss but also exert neuro-protective functions within the brain. Lastly, the caloric intake of the cycled diet rats varied widely from those that maintained their healthy eating, by eating as much as 30% more energy.
What's the take home message on this: choose wisely, even on weekends and vacation trips, your GI health will thank you. The best way to do this is to make selections from nutrient dense food groups, even if craving something sweet or salty. For example, think about crunchy sea salt or curried baked garbanzo beans or sliced fruit topped with raspberry or lemon syrup.
- Nadeem O. Kaakoush, Sarah I. Martire, Mukesh Raipuria, Hazel M. Mitchell, Shaun Nielsen, R. Fred Westbrook, Margaret J. Morris.Alternating or continuous exposure to cafeteria diet leads to similar shifts in gut microbiota compared to chow diet. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201500815