How bad really is the Western diet of junk food?
A team of researchers made a simple experiment. They asked people to switch diets for two weeks. Twenty volunteers from the United States moved to a low-fat, high-fiber diet such as legumes and beans while 20 volunteers from rural Africa were asked to eat more Western-style, fast-food fare such as burgers and fries.
At the end of the brief experiment, the results were quite visible, BBC News reported.
The Americans benefited from less bowel inflammation, while the African volunteers’ bowel health deteriorated, according to the British broadcaster.
Although it’s hard to draw firm conclusions from such a small study, the findings support the widely held belief that modern Western diets, which are high in fat and sugar and low in fiber, are bad for the health.
The study also supports earlier research that show a high intake of fibrous food such as cereal and whole grains reduces bowel cancer risk, while eating red and processed meat increases the risk.
Based on medical tests conducted before and after the experiment, the diet swap apparently caused big changes to the cells lining the digestive tract as well as the bacteria living in the bowels, with the US volunteers faring better, the BBC said.
“In just two weeks, a change in diet from a Westernized composition to a traditional African high-fiber, low-fat diet reduced these biomarkers of cancer risk, indicating that it is likely never too late to modify the risk of colon cancer,” lead researcher Dr. Stephen O’Keefe, from the University of Pittsburgh, was quoted as saying.
If such big changes could take place in just two weeks, imagine the long-term benefits a permanent switch to healthier diet could bring.
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