That gut feeling

In the mid-1980’s, my sister began a science project in our garage, with mice. She prepared two cages of mice. One cage of mice were fed nothing but junk food such as cookies. The other cage of mice were fed whole grains. The cage of whole grain mice stayed well-groomed and created very neat and tidy little nests. The cage of junk food mice was a complete mess. The mice were spastic and unable to groom themselves or make anything that resembled a nest. Then, my sister switched their diets. The results also switched. The original junk food mice became neat and orderly and the original whole grain mice completely lost their ability to function on the cookie diet. Then, a snake found our garage, and ended the experiment.

Judy Foreman, author of Exercise is Medicine, contributed the Boston Globe article sub-titled, Practical Proven Methods for Staying Healthy and Active Later in Life, from which came the inspiration for this entry. Don’t worry if you are unable to open the link without a subscription. There are so many facets to this article, I plan to cover each topic in a separate post.

Over the years since my sister’s science project, scientists have continually published evidence supporting her conclusion, junk food is bad for you. In more recent years, scientific studies have revealed additional relationships between junk food and the gut; more specifically to its role causing inflammation and disruptions to our microbiome. However, since the exact human microbiome is not yet reproducible in a laboratory, we may not understand the exact mechanism by which this happens for quite a while. There are many items being marketed right now, still unproven without testing on the identical bacterial strains found in our gut. Yet, the conclusion is simple and clear. Junk food is bad.

According to Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, the following are good to include in your diet:

  • “blueberries, cocoa, tea, coffee, and other foods rich in fiber, such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, beans, and minimally-processed whole grains…”
  • “fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, as well as cheeses that have been aged but not heated afterward, such as aged feta, Swiss, provolone, Gouda, cheddar, Gruyere and cottage cheese” are also good.
  • Less red meat

I have a personal weakness for cookies and ice cream but definitely planning to decrease my intake. More tips on staying healthy and active longer, coming soon.

Foreman, Judy. “Forget Wordle. Here are 5 secrets to living better, longer. Practical, proven methods for staying healthy and active later in life.” The Boston Globe. 13 Oct. 2022.

Featured Photo of Mouse by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

9 thoughts on “That gut feeling

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  1. Sugar is awful for you. I used to give a presentation in libraries for children called “Make Art Out of Recyclables.” Whenever children were served cookies (by the librarian) prior to the presentation, they were unruly and didn’t want to sit still to create art. The children who didn’t have a snack made beautiful artwork. The difference was like night and day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the mouse experiment! I wish it was on a video so teachers and administrators at schools and churches could watch it. I tried in vain to get them to stop giving sweet snacks to my kids in their classes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When my children were in school, decades ago, the school encouraged healthy snacks of fruits and vegetables, ants on a log, apple slices, oranges, etc. But my granddaughter has to bring snacks that are packaged – not homemade, and no nuts or peanut butter. The schools say it is health reasons, not everyone’s kitchen would pass a health inspection. Sugar does have an impact on people, some more than others.

    Liked by 1 person

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