Consuming Sugar Alters The Gut Microbiome

With the prevalence of fast food and junk food on our menu, it’s no surprise that a Western-style diet high in fat and sugar can wreak havoc with human health. By consuming this type of diet it can cause obesity or diseases such as metabolic syndrome or diabetes. But how exactly does this type of eating affect our body internally?

To answer these questions, researchers from Columbia University recently studied the microbiome response to an unhealthy diet by taking mice through 4 weeks of controlled nutrition study using a Western-style meal plan. The results showed poorer metabolism over time, weight gain, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.

Fascinatingly, a major component of the gut microbiota in the mice underwent drastic alterations that had consequences on Th17 cells. By reducing this particular type of bacteria- segmented filamentous, researchers were able to reduce the number of immune system tissues related to metabolic diseases such as diabetes and weight gain.

Immune cells in the intestine are responsible for keeping our gut healthy and protecting us from absorbing dangerous lipids. The recent study has revealed that, when it comes to high-fat, high-sugar diets, sugar is likely what drives these harmful changes. Evidently this makes sense as excess consumption of sugary treats can lead to inflammation which increases susceptibility towards disease.

The research revealed that when mice were fed a sugar-free, high fat diet they retained crucial intestinal Th17 cells and as a result had full protection against obesity and pre-diabetes. Even though the same number of calories was consumed it demonstrated an interesting implication – by simply eliminating added sugars from your diet you can protect yourself from major metabolic diseases.

While cutting back on sugar can be beneficial for some, it may not have the same effect in individuals without certain bacteria present. This was demonstrated by mice that became obese and developed diabetes despite a lack of filamentous bacteria. To address this, probiotics could help restore Th17 cells to balance out metabolic syndrome when high-fat diets are consumed.

The research highlights that the interaction between diet, intestinal microbiota and the immune system is crucial in influencing conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. While humans don’t possess filamentous bacteria like mice do, other gut-dwelling microorganisms may provide similar protection from illness. The data shows how mice were able to resist higher levels of fat consumption when given certain filamentous bacteria – a cellular induction which may also be therapeutic for humans. Importantly, it was not solely the actions of these organisms providing protection but rather Th17 cells activated by them.

These findings could be integral for preventing or reversing these conditions through dietary interventions.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Microbiota imbalance induced by dietary sugar disrupts immune-mediated protection from metabolic syndrome