We know that eating nutritious, real foods is good for our health and that a diet full of ultra-processed foods can lead to many chronic health conditions. A new study from researchers at the University of California, Riverside, indicates that what kids eat during childhood could have lasting effects on their gut microbiome health well into adulthood – even after switching to healthful whole foods.
A healthy gut is full of diverse beneficial bacteria that stimulate the immune system, properly break down food, and help prevent chronic illnesses. When the balance of helpful and harmful microbes is disturbed, it leaves us more susceptible to chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. The imbalance is also responsible for inflammation, disrupting your immune response, as well as energy levels. Some research has even suggested that a healthy gut can slow aging and prevent depression.
The new study found that juvenile mice fed a high-fat and high-sugar diet had significantly reduced gut bacteria diversity compared to those fed a healthy diet. The researchers noted that the observed effect was equivalent to kids eating a processed food diet. The change in the gut microbiome lasted long after puberty and switching to nutritious food.
The research underscores the vital need to feed kids healthful, real foods at school to protect their health during childhood and beyond. Read more about the study here.