Modern lifestyle leaves little time to cook healthy foods at home, which can make us rely more on processed foods. These pre-cooked processed foods include chips, fries, meats, soda drinks, milk, pasta, cereals, chocolates, and many other such store-bought items. It's a known fact that these foods contain preservatives, artificial flavour enhancers, artificial sugar and excessive salt content, which may have adverse effects on our health. Excessive consumption could lead to problems like obesity, heart issues, diabetes and even cancer. However, a new study by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis claims to have found a specific microbe in human gut that can break down and metabolise a chemical common in processed foods.
Fructoselysine is present in a section of chemicals called Maillard Reaction Products (MRPs), which are produced during the heating and other processes that occur during food processing. The researchers discovered human gut bacterial strain that can break down the chemical fructoselysine and turn it into harmless byproducts. The findings of the study were published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.
(Also Read: 8 Processed Foods to Avoid and Why)
Healthy gut microbes can reduce harmful effects of processed foods
The study attempted to analyse how processed dietary protein affects the gut microbiota. The team fed gnotobiotic mice, colonized with 54 phylogenetically diverse human gut bacterial strains, defined sugar-rich diets containing whey as the protein source or a matched amino acid (AA) mixture. The mice were fed these diets for a period of 21 days.
“Results obtained from this model illustrate how chemical changes introduced by food processing and with potential deleterious effects on health can influence members of the gut microbiota, including bacteria capable of responding to these modifications by degrading them into innocuous metabolic products,” said Ashley R. Wolf, co-author of the study.
The findings can have impact on the following –
1) Microbiome science by coming up with mechanisms that shed light on the positive and negative effects of manufactured foods on a microbial colony.
2) Medical science by defining how gut microbial biotransformation of food ingredients affects health and disease risk.
3) Food science by laying down the potential safety measures of existing and new methods for food processing.