Cooked food wins over raw food in battle for weight loss

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Eating cooked veggies alters microbiomes in the gut and their patterns of gene activity as cooked food allows the host to soak up more calories in the small intestine, leaving less for hungry microbes further down the gut, a study has revealed.

Researchers, who studied the impact of raw versus cooked food, found there was no discernible effect of meat on animals' gut microbes, but many raw veggies that contain potent antimicrobial compounds directly damage certain microbes and alter the biologically crucial metabolic products they produce.

The researchers from the University of California and Harvard University used a diverse array of vegetables, including sweet potato, white potato, corn, peas, carrots, and beets, to feed the mice in what they called a "mad scientist experiment".

"We were surprised to see the differences were not only because of changing carbohydrate metabolism but may be driven by the chemicals found in plants," said lead author and Professor Peter Turnbaugh, a member of the executive leadership of the UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine.

Turnbaugh said the research highlighted the importance of considering other components of our diet and how they impacted the gut bacteria as scientists over the past years have discovered that many facets of human health ranging from chronic inflammation to weight gain are strongly influenced by the ecological health of the vast numbers of microbes that live in and on us.

The new study published in Nature Microbiology examined the impact of cooking on the microbiomes of mice by feeding them raw meat, cooked meat, raw sweet potatoes, as well as, cooked sweet potatoes, and also observed raw diets caused mice to lose weight.

The researchers also explored whether similar microbiome changes could be triggered in humans eating a raw or cooked diet and found these distinct diets significantly altered participants' microbiomes.

"The impact of cooking we see in rodents is relevant in humans too, although, the specifics of how the microbiome was affected differed between the two species," the researcher explained, adding the study provided insights how diet impacts the microbiome and influences weight gain and other aspects of human health.

So now you know which food to choose when watching your weight and gut health.