Did your mother ever tell you not to eat too much candy? Did she ever say it was because the candy could give you asthma? Well, she should have. According to an article in The Economist, a new study published in PNAS shows that a typical Western diet — high in fat and sugar content — adversely affects the gut bacteria of children and could lead to asthma, allergies, and other inflammatory diseases. Paolo Lionetti and his colleagues at the University of Florence compared the gut bacteria of 14 healthy children in Burkina Faso with those of 15 children from Florence, according to The Economist. They found that the African children had "a diverse mix of bacteria," many of them associated with leanness and known to produce short-chain fatty acids, which are associated with lower levels of inflammation. This was due in part to their fiber-rich diet, the article adds. The Florentine children — who ate more sugars and fats — had fewer microbial species in their guts, and more of them were associated with a greater risk of obesity.
Bacteria Come Home to Roost
Aug 06, 2010