Diet, Health Studies, Immune System

Modern American Diet Destroys Gut Health Now, and for Future Generations

Natural health experts agree that the biggest public health hazard in the country is the modern American diet, heavy on processed, low-fiber food and chemicals. This toxic diet kills beneficial bacteria, and undermines the diversity of our intestinal flora, creating an assault on our immune systems and an array of health problems.  Impaired gut health manifests in symptoms such as constipation, uncomfortable intestinal gas, diarrhea, bad breath, hormonal problems, menstrual issues, allergies and vitamin deficiencies, among others. Ultimately, poor gut health can cause serious digestive complications, autoimmune conditions, and even cancer.

Research conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine concluded that low fiber foods create a range of internal deficiencies. These deficiencies are passed down and affect future generations. Tragically, these deficiencies proved to be irreversible after four generations. The study was conducted with mice with the gut bacteria of human beings; the low-fiber diets fed the mice produced a depletion in complex microbial ecosystems and an erosion of gut health. This loss of intestinal flora diversity become progressively worse with each successive generation. In other words, eating badly today can affect your children, your grandchildren, and ultimately, your great-grandchildren.

Today Americans eat an average of only 15 grams of fiber daily, and as the modern American diet spreads around the world, people in other industrialized nations are following suit. Compare that to the diets of our hunter-gather and agrarian ancestors, who consumed as much as 10 time the fiber we do. The widespread use of antibiotics, the decline in breastfeeding, and an increase in cesarean section deliveries have also contributed to the decline in healthy gut flora.

Low-fiber diets are dangerous to our health because fiber is the primary food source for helpful microorganisms like commensal bacteria, which colonizes the colon. We need each of the thousands of various types of intestinal flora that are ideally present in our large intestines, for a healthy immune system and for tissue development.

In the history of human evolution, the constant consumption of low fiber foods in the United States and other industrialized nations is a fairly recent development. Nevertheless, the Stanford study serves as a warning of serious health consequences for future generations if these dietary trends continue.

The good news is that you can change the trend now, in your own life. Select foods that are high in fiber and avoid processed, chemical-laden foods. Build your diet around organic vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains. Avoid overusing antibiotics, and if you are pregnant, breastfeed your baby.