Digestion of processed foods

Processed foods are abundant nowadays. Foods like cornflakes, cookies, cereals, chocolate and candy being some primary examples. Due to the scale of production of these types of products, a lot of standardization in the production process takes place. These optimization steps usually involve the addition of chemicals, and grinding or heating steps. As a result, unwanted chemical side-products are obtained that can be found back in the final product. One of these side-products is the sugar e-fructoselysine, also known as a Maillard or Amadori product. The Maillard reaction similarly causes browning of foods, which happens during the grilling of meats or vegetables, for example.

Maillard products, and especially e-fructoselysine, are known chemical agents that may increase the risk of developing insulin resistance or diabetes type II, or weight gain, when ingested in high quantities via the food that contain these compounds. Specifically in grilled meats, the resulting Maillard products may increase the risk of cardiovascular or immune diseases.

In a study done in St. Louis in the USA, under the supervision of prof. Jeffrey Gordon, it was discovered that a bacteria found in the human microbiome, Colinsella intestinalis, can effectively break down Maillard products such as e-fructoselysine. When test mice had a C. intestinalis population present in their microbiome, the addition of e-fructoselysine to the mice feed increased the abundance of C. intestinalis further. The e-fructoselysine was found to be metabolized into non-harmful secondary compounds.

Source: Science Daily
Original article
Bui et al., 2015