Fast food- which can be defined as prepared meals and snacks made at restaurants that can be taken out- is a group of food that for years now, medical professionals have defined as unhealthy to consume. This is due to the high amount of refined carbs, saturated fats, and animal products present in these foods and the way those elements affect the body. The most obvious effect of prolonged fast food consumption is weight gain. “Hidden” effects- those that will develop over time- include increased risk of obesity, heart attack, diabetes, stroke, dementia, and cancer.1
In the near term future, fast food can have negative effects on your gut and the microbiome within it. An experiment undertaken by researchers in the UK yielded similar results. In the UK experiment, a college aged man ate all his meals at a fast food restaurant for seven days. In his own words, “I felt good for three days, then slowly went downhill, I became more lethargic, and by a week my friends thought I had gone a strange grey colour”.2 In his gut, about 40% of his microbiome had been devastated.2
Why is this important? The gut microbiome helps regulate our digestion, our immune system, maintain a healthy weight, and keeps our hearts healthy.3 To keep your gut healthy, your body needs whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The vitamins and nutrients found in these foods provide your body with what it needs to stay healthy. Your gut in particular, needs probiotics and prebiotics to stay healthy. Probiotics can be found in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso. Prebiotics can be found in foods such as bananas, apples, beans, and sweet potatoes. If including prebiotics into your diet is difficult, a supplement might help. Fiber Choice® has a line of prebiotic supplements including gummies and flavored drops. You can find more information here.
1 Fuhrman J. The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6146358/. Published April 3, 2018. Accessed August 12, 2020.
2 Tim Spector Professor of Genetic Epidemiology. Your gut bacteria don’t like junk food – even if you do. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/your-gut-bacteria-dont-like-junk-food-even-if-you-do-41564. Published June 12, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2020.
3 Robertson R. Why the Gut Microbiome Is Crucial for Your Health. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health. Published June 27, 2017. Accessed August 12, 2020.