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Gorging On Weekends Is Just As Harmful To Health As Eating Regular Junk Food

Update Date: Feb 22, 2016 10:00 AM EST

Researchers at the University of New South Wales conclude that yo-yo dieting between eating a balanced diet on weekdays, and eating heavily on weekends tend to be equally harmful for the gut health as a regular and consistent diet of junk.

A study to examine the impact of yo-yo dieting on gut microbiota was conducted by a team of researchers, led by Professor Margaret Morris, the Head of Pharmacology at UNSW.

"The findings indicate that intermittent exposure to junk food three days a week is sufficient to extensively shift the gut microbiota towards the patten seen in obese rats consuming the diet continuously," said Morris, according to a press release.

The microbiota in two groups of rats were compared. Those that could constantly access both nutritious and non-nutritious food got compared to another group that yo-yoed between eating healthy food for four days and eating junk food for three days over 16 weeks.

After four months, the study showed that rats put through the cycled diet tended to be 18 percent heavier than rats those on the healthy one. The cycled rats showed diversity in their intake, and consumed 30 percent more energy than rats on a totally healthy one.

With the cycled rats shifting back to a healthy diet, it was found that they consumed half the amount of food and calories than the rats eating healthy food regularly.

"The study suggests certain gut microbiota, including Ruminococcus and Blautia, may be promising targets for future therapeutic strategies to treat metabolic disorder," said Morris.

The findings were published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

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