What Happens in Your Gut When You Eat a Low Carb Diet

More and more people are eating a low carbohydrate diet as a way to lose weight without any consideration to the long-term effects on their health. There are concerns about the increased risk of diabetes with ketogenic-type diets that are both low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Low carb diets have also been linked in one study to a shortened life span. But new research suggests there are even more potential health issues linked to eating a low carb diet.

According to a new study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, which explored the effects of a low carb diet on the gut microbiome, this approach to eating may have consequences on our microbiome. Scientists at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio used a “human gut simulator” to assess the effects of two different types of diet on the gut.

The study found that a high fat, low carb diet increased strains of bacteria that break down fats. The switch from a balanced diet to a ketogenic-type diet caused a reduction in whole bacterial groups, including: Bacteroides, Clostridium and Roseburia, all of which assist in the breakdown of protein and carb foods. The reduction in these bacteria produced a reduction in fatty acids and antioxidants—compounds that are needed to heal damage to DNA, as well as fight aging, inflammation and diseases like colon cancer.

Bacterial diversity in the intestines is important to our overall health. And, diet goes a long way toward ensuring the health of our microbiome. An earlier study published in the medical journal Nature showed that diet rapidly alters the microorganisms residing in our gut. The Harvard-based research found that what we eat can have drastic effects on both the numbers of microbes as well as the diversity of strains found in the intestines.

Additionally, the study showed that the microbiome can shift quickly in response to diet—in as little as 24 hours after eating a meal of animal protein, the scientists found that the microbes found in the food (bacteria, fungi and viruses) quickly colonized the gut. And, perhaps most notably, they discovered that an animal-based diet (high protein, high fat, low carb) caused the growth of microorganisms that are capable of triggering inflammatory bowel disease within only two days of eating these foods.

The study was a small-scale study that explored dietary extremes by getting participants to eat a breakfast of eggs and bacon, a lunch of ribs and briskets, and salami, prosciutto and assorted cheeses for dinner, along with pork rinds for snacks. Then, the participants switched diets and ate a plant-based diet of granola for breakfast, jasmine rice, cooked onions, tomatoes, squash, garlic, peas and lentils for lunch; and a similar dinner, with bananas and mangoes for snacks.

In another study researchers fed rats a diet of salami, chocolate, chips and biscuits—or, what they called, the “cafeteria diet.” As part of an obesity study published in the journal Age, researchers gave some of the rats probiotics while others did not receive the beneficial bacteria. Scientists found that the probiotics were effective in preventing obesity because they had an anti-inflammatory effect on the gut and the body.

While this type of research is still in its infancy, and indeed our understanding of the human microbiome is also in the early stages, it is clear that diet has a quick and profound effect on our gut and the microbes found in it. And, that’s not surprising when you consider a basic fact: beneficial microbes, or probiotics, are like all living beings: they need food to survive. Known as prebiotics, which is essentially the food for these beneficial bacteria, they are primarily found in the form of naturally-occurring sugars and fiber found in plant-based foods. Knowing that, it isn’t really surprising that when we eat more of these primarily-carbohydrate-type plant foods, we should expect to see the numbers of beneficial microbes increase in our gut. And, great health truly does begin in the gut.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Life Force Diet: 3 Weeks to Supercharge Your Health and Get Slim with Enzyme-Rich FoodsFollow her work.

 

72 comments

Amanda M
Amanda McConnell19 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda McConnell19 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Rauni H
Rauni H19 days ago

Thanks

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Rose P.
Past Member 19 days ago

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Rose P.
Past Member 19 days ago

What a great and inspiring story! I was married for seven years without any child, because of this my husband start acting strange, coming home lately and not spending time with me any more and he divorced me. So i became very sad and lost in life because my doctor told me there is no way for me to get pregnant this really make life miserable for me. until i came across a friend who told me about DR ODION from the Internet, how he has helped a lot of women with this similar problems that i am going through so i contacted him on: (drodion60@yandex.com) and explained to him. he told me all what to provide before he could cast a reunite spell to bring back my husband which i did and he sent a powerful prayer which i had to say at mid night while he cast the love spell. It was a miracle, 24 hours later my one and only husband came back to me and apologize for all he has done and told me he is fully ready to support me in any thing i want,i quickly call DR ODION and told him what was going on at that moment and he also prepared and sent me a herbal medicine which he said it will cure every unwanted diseases or infections that has been stopping me from conceiving then instructed me on how to use it before meeting with my husband. Behold after using this native herbs and root, few weeks later i started feeling pregnancy signs all over me, truly i was pregnant i just gave birth to a baby boy on the 1st of this month. I Vow to let the whole world know about DR ODION

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O19 days ago

I do not eat meat or cheeses, milk and the like just plenty of fruit and veg grains and nuts. I am happy with that as it suits my body well. I am however very upset that in this day and age that these studies are still abusing rats! Humans are not rats we live and eat differently, so please find better subjects like volunteer humans that can at least stand up for themselves, please.

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Paulo R
Paulo R19 days ago

some carbs are very healthy. ty

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Faith Billingham
Faith Billingham20 days ago

Great article, Thanks for sharing!

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Faith Billingham
Faith Billingham20 days ago

Great article, Thanks for sharing!

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Julie Hamilton
Julie Hamilton20 days ago

This is an unfair representation of Keto eating. I suggest seeking more reliable sources than just ones that eat salami, cheese, pork rinds etc... a keto diet has a vast selection of vegetables and other foods that in whole form that are delicious and good for you. Problem is, as any other diet, people don't do the research. They just make assumptions. As this article did.

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