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NY Post
New York Post
16 Dec 2023


NextImg:The Black Death might be the reason we can’t stop eating junk food — new study

The dietary and hygienic changes that people underwent as a result of the Black Plague could be the reason why human being are so fond of junk food 700 years later, scientists say.

Those changes came about because the disease, which wiped out 60% of Europe in the 1300s, dramatically altered the bacteria found in our mouths, according to new research.

The study was published in the journal Nature Microbiology, where scientists from Penn State University researched calcified dental plaque from skeletons that they discovered.

Professor Laura Weyrich and her team uncovered teeth of 235 people who were buried in England and Scotland from around 2200 BC to 1835 AD.

They found 954 microbial species of bacteria in the samples, with many falling under the genus Streptococcus.

This is a common type of bacteria that lives in humans’ mouths today.

Junk food has made people enslaved to its sweet and salty flavors for generations. Drobot Dean – stock.adobe.com

Another genus Methanobrevibacter, was also unearthed — its a pathogen considered to be nonexistent in healthy people.

“Modern microbiomes are linked to a wide range of chronic diseases, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and poor mental health,” Professor Weyrich said in her research.

She continued: “Uncovering the origins of these microbial communities may help in understanding and managing these diseases.”

A study was published in the journal Nature Microbiology, where scientists from Penn State University researched the link between the plague and fast food. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The bacteria found in the skeletons’ dental fragments, was also seen to be connected to low-fiber, high-carbohydrate diets — additives commonly seen in fast food.

The Black Death seemingly triggered the resurgence of these microbes, with the viruses being linked to immune, heart and brain diseases.

The plague infamously caused painful ailments, such as fever, vomiting, fatigue and swelling.

Professor Weyrich also explained how the people who survived the Plague back in the Middle Ages, were richer and had higher incomes.

The dietary and hygienic changes that people underwent in the 1300s due to the changing health landscape could have contributed to people’s passion for junk food nowadays. Juliaap – stock.adobe.com

Thus, these citizens were able to afford higher-calorie and more indulgent foods that weren’t available to peasants and the masses.

“It’s possible that the [Plague] triggered changes in people’s diets that, in turn, influenced the composition of their oral microbiomes,” she said.

“This is the first time anyone has shown that the microbes in our body may have been influenced by things like past pandemics,” she noted.