A new study from the University of Bonn found that your typical Western diet, characterized by an abundance of red meat, sugar, and saturated fat – or, what you’d find in fast food – can shift your immune system into hyper drive, leading to inflammation.
The study, published in the journal Cell, says that inflammation can be a response to serious conditions like cardiovascular diseases (read: stroke or heart attack) and type 2 diabetes.
Eicke Latz, MD, PhD, director of the Institute for Innate Immunity of the University of Bonn in Germany, put mice through a Western diet in the study. After just one month, the mice had an inflammatory response similar to what would be triggered by a serious bacterial infection.
‘Fast food thus causes the body to quickly recruit a huge and powerful army,’ noted the University of Bonn’s press release.
Making it all more severe is that this immune response is irreversible. The researchers fed the mice a healthier diet for another month, and while acute inflammation reduced, further testing showed permanent changes to the immune system.
‘The innate immune system has a form of memory,’ Dr. Latz explains. ‘After an infection [or in the case of the mice, exposure to fast food], the body’s defenses remain in a kind of alarm state, so that they can respond more quickly to a new attack.’
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Dr. Latz says the study should be a warning for parents of young kids especially, as nutrition plays a more prominent role in early childhood education.
‘Children have a choice of what they eat every day,’ he says. ‘We should enable them to make conscious decisions regarding their dietary habits.’
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