If you follow a healthy diet during the week, but binge on weekends, you might as well be eating a junk-food diet every day.
That’s the upshot of new research out of the University of New South Wales that found yo-yoing between eating well during the week and bingeing on junk food over the weekend is just as bad for your gut health as a consistently unhealthy diet.
The study, led by Margaret Morris, head of pharmacology at UNSW, said the study — involving the impact of yo-yo dieting on the gut microbiota of rats — has broad implications for people and underscores the need for healthy nutritional habits to be incorporated into everyday life.
The findings, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, indicate even occasion disruptions to regular gut bacteria are linked with obesity, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
"The findings indicate that intermittent exposure to junk food three days a week is sufficient to extensively shift the gut microbiota towards the pattern seen in obese rats consuming the diet continuously," Morris said. "A reduction in the diversity of the gut's microbiota and a loss of some of the beneficial biota is clearly not a good thing for health.
"While these findings are yet to be replicated in humans, those who are strict with their diet during the week may be undoing all their good work by hitting the junk food over the weekend."
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