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Popular Foods Wrecking Your Gut Health, Says Science

Too much of these foods can wreak havoc on your gut microbiome.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Your gut health is crucial to many other areas of health. In fact, if your gut health is off, you may even experience mental health effects like an increased chance of having anxiety or depression.

This is why it's so important to take care of your gut so that you can live a healthy, well-balanced life. But where do you start, you may ask? While your gut health can be improved with things like hydration, plenty of sleep, and regulation of stress, your diet also plays a key role.

Continue reading to learn about some of the popular foods that may be wrecking your gut health. And for more healthy eating tips make sure to check out Popular Foods That Improve Your Gut Health.



drinking alcohol

Alcohol can be enjoyed every once in a while without too many consequences, but according to registered dietitian Morgyn Clair, MS, RDN, author at Fit Healthy Momma, heavier amounts of drinking can have lasting effects on your gut health.

"Not only have certain alcoholic drinks been shown to disrupt normal digestion, but studies have shown that moderate to heavy drinkers actually have fewer healthy bacteria colonies in their digestive systems," says Clair.

RELATED: Secret Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol, Says Expert


Foods with added sugar


Foods with added sugar, like donuts, cookies, sodas, sugary juices, and other sugar-sweetened snacks can quickly damage your gut health and lead to other health complications along the way.

"Too much sugar can 'feed' the bad bacteria, which can compete for survival with the good bacteria," says Clair, "and too much sugar can also cause an influx of water and disrupt normal digestion, causing bloating and other unwanted effects."

This article published in Nutrients also says that sugar can mess with the microbiota balance and your gut and therefore cause some inflammatory effects in the body as well.

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Artificial sweeteners

artificial sweetener

While many people may reach for artificial sweeteners to save calories and help with weight loss, these may negatively impact your gut health over time.

A study published in Nature found that consumption of artificial sweeteners may actually be linked to developing a gluten intolerance because of the ways it can alter your gut microbiota. However, this study was done on mice so more research is needed on this development.

RELATED: Surprising Ways Drinking Diet Soda Affects Your Body, Say Experts


Processed meats

breakfast sausage links with fried eggs

Although they are a good source of protein, processed meats like bacon or sausage have been known to potentially cause problems for your gut health due to their saturated fat content.

A review from Clinical Nutrition found a link between total fat intake—specifically saturated fats—and a reduction in total bacterial number, bacterial richness, and diversity in the gut, which are all signs of poor gut health.

RELATED: One Major Side Effect of Eating Processed Meat, New Study Says


Soybean oil

Soybean oil

Research shows that soybean oil, which is commonly found in things like margarine, certain salad dressings, some brands of mayonnaise, nutrition bars, and many frozen foods, may be harmful to your gut health.

A study published in the journal Gut found that a diet high in soybean oil, which is rich in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, decreased levels of two bacterial species, Faecalibacterium and Blautia, that produce health-promoting metabolites. It also increased levels of two bacterial species, Alistipes and Bacteroides, which have been related to imbalanced glucose metabolism.

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Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha