New research indicates that “you are not only what you eat but what you ate as a child,”. Therefore, having a poor diet as a child can alter your gut microbiome permanently, even if you correct your diet later in life. The gut microbiome refers to the collection of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that reside within our intestines. It acts as another organ and is critical for good health. A few examples on how the microbiome influences health include breaking down nutrients and promoting a healthy immune response.
A study by UC Riverside tested the Standard American Diet (SAD) on mice starting at birth to observe its effect on the microbiome. The SAD refers to the typical Western diet that is high in saturated fat and refined sugar. The mice were split into four groups over the duration of 1 month, then were put back on their regular diet.
- Mice that were fed a “healthy” diet, no access to exercise.
- Mice that were fed the SAD diet, no access to exercise.
- Mice that were fed a “healthy” diet, able to exercise.
- Mice that were fed the SAD diet, able to exercise.
14 weeks after the diet test, researchers found that Muribaculum bacteria (a strain of bacteria responsible for breaking down carbohydrates) decreased in both groups that were fed the SAD diet. This is significant because the effects of the SAD diet were still observed long after having gone back to their normal eating patterns. Ultimately, it is crucial to maintain healthy eating patterns throughout life to ensure long-term healthiness.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.