It's not uncommon for me to hear the exhortation to not eat processed foods

 Of course, when pressed on the why, most people delve into pseudoscience or end up admitting they're just parroting something they read.

Well here's some science!

The emulsifiers in question are carboxymethycellulose and polysorbate-80; especially in Europe and North America, they are commonly used in processed foods (mayo, ketchup, numerous sauces, ice cream, gluten-free products, fat-free products and many others) and other common products (toothpaste, detergents etc). The study conducted on mice showed that even in low concentrations, these substances drastically affect the gut bacteria which seems to lead to obesity as well as a number of gut-related problems.

Why processed foods make you fat: two common food additives linked to obesity and gut inflammation
A new study suggests that two very common emulsifiers – chemicals that stabilize foods and stop products like mayo from separating – could increase the risk of obesity and irritable bowel syndrome.

  1. Serious question. Does it poison the lazy bacteria, so more productive ones digest the food faster? Or does it improve the efficiency of certain gut bacteria?

  2. Kieron, the paper that was produced from the study doesn't speculate on the specific causes for the changes in the microbiome.

  3. We need more of this research.  I'm on a (extremely successful) low-carb, high-fat, non-calorie restricted diet.  And when I talk about it, I don't have all the science…but I have some.  I do eat mayo on a daily basis and am interested in this sort of thing to help me further improve my diet.

  4. Thanks, I love it when science backs up speculation and common sense.

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