Concentrated milk fats found in confectionery and processed foods could alter gut bacteria and set up the conditions for bowel diseases.
That’s the conclusion of research carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Chicago.
In experiments using mice genetically modified mice to be prone inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), one in three mice developed colitis when fed either low-fat diets or meals high in polyunsaturated fats. This jumped to nearly two in three in those fed a diet high in saturated milk fats, which are in many processed foods.
These saturated fats are hard for the body to digest and it responds by pumping more bile into the gut. This changes the gut environment and leads to a change in the bacteria growing there, the researchers said.
The Chicago team says their research offers the first credible explanation for why the Western diet contributes to the “unusually high incidence in inflammatory bowel disease”.