As squishy and knotted as we think our guts are, certain foods can keep our digestive systems clean.
According to a report in the latest issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology, researchers may have figured out why some fats are worse than others. Researchers found certain fats can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in our digestive systems, while others can kill them off.
"We found through evidence that saturated fats can cause potentially dangerous changes -- but not all fats are bad for us. There are healthy ones that can protect us from diseases," says Joe Alcock, associate professor and lead author and at the University of New Mexico Department of Emergency Medicine and VA Medical Centre.
Through Alcock's research, some fats -- especially most unsaturated fats -- have antimicrobial properties. In other words, foods that contain unsaturated fats react differently with bacteria and over time can actually kill them off. Alcock says foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and tuna are particularly "lethal to pathogenic bacteria." Other unsaturated fats like avocado, plant-based oils and peanut butter are still labelled as good fats.
"We wanted to try to figure out why these certain fats are bad for us and why they're inflammatory," he told The Huffington Post Canada. Some fats, he says, can cause body-wise inflammatory changes to cells that can cause obesity or cardiovascular diseases in the long-run.
Story Continues Below: LOOK: Here are Alcock's suggestions for the best and worst foods for your gut:
And sure, foods from fast food restaurants and deep-fried food fairs aren't what people are eating daily (we hope), but excluding all saturated fats isn't easy either. Health Canada recommends limiting your fat intake and trying to use low-fat meat and dairy products.
To figure out why some fats are inflammatory, Alcock and his team surveyed over 60 published studies of the effects of different types of fats and fatty acidson pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella.
He says, however, this is just the beginning of his research. "We reviewed experiences on petri dishes and not the whole body -- but we suspect these [fats can] cause body wide changes."
The worst and best foods for your gut:
WORST: Animal Fats Like Bacon:
Sure, bacon is crispy, oily and delicious but it is also packed with saturated fats and sodium. Bacon can also contain nitrates, which when cooked in high temperatures, can become carcinogenic, according to FitSugar.com.
WORST: Processed Foods:
Breads, chips, cakes, meats -- the list goes on and on. Processed foods are loaded with sugar, preservatives, salt, and fat.
WORST: Lunch Meats:
Packaged slices of ham and turkey should also be added to your list of bad foods. Some studies have even revealed that processed meats could increase one's pancreatic cancer risk.
WORST: Fastfood Burgers:
When cooked with lean meats, nutritious toppings and whole wheat buns, burgers can actually be a healthy option. However, health experts like Joe Alcock says fats (especially saturated ones) found in fastfood burgers can be harmful for our guts.
BEST: Omega-3 Fishes:
Fatty fishes like tuna and salmon are high in omega-3s and can help fight inflammation in your inner gut.
BEST: Coconut Milk:
Also known as a "medium chain fatty acid," coconut milk can help kill harmful bacteria in your intestines, according to Alcock.
BEST: Olive Oil And Plant-Based Oils:
Olive oils are packed with monounsaturated fatty acids that can be easier for digestion.
Delicious eaten both right out of the skin or blended into guacamole, avocados contain oleic acids, which can help your brain make you feel full, according to Best Health Magazine.
BEST: Polyphenol Foods: Blueberries:
Blueberries can boost your immune system to protect you from colds, fevers and other infections. The are also full of antioxidants and vitamin B, C and E.
BEST: Polyphenol Foods: Strawberries:
Besides being loaded with vitamins A, B and C, one study has found that strawberries can also help protect us against ultraviolet radiation.
BEST: Polyphenol Foods: Citrus Foods :
Fruits like limes and grapefruit are rich in vitamin C and can boost our body's immune system.
BEST: Polyphenol Foods: Turmeric:
A spice typically used in Indian curries, turmeric has been known to be a stomach soother, an anti-inflammatory and a liver cleanser, according to Huffington Post blogger Anjali Malhotra.
BEST: Polyphenol Foods: Chili Peppers:
Yes they're hot -- but they're also good for your gut. Chili peppers have been known to reduce inflammation and promote a smoother digestive process for your body, according to 4FatChicks.com.