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Typical American Diet Can Damage Immune System, Microbiome

Science News reports in Typical American diet can damage immune system yet another research finding suggesting that health is far more complex than conventionally realized, involving not just foods per se, but the gut microbiome and its interaction with those food choices. Other research goes so far as to suggest even mental health is an interactive result of bacteria in the gut, and that bad food choices can cross generations!

A tantalizing line of evidence suggests that unhealthful foods — fatty, salty, sugary, processed foods — may disrupt the body’s defenses in a way that promotes inflammation, infection, autoimmune diseases and even illnesses like cancer.

...

There is also evidence that certain kinds of fats and refined sugar, consumed in excess, may compromise the inner lining of the intestine, allowing microscopic leaks that trigger unrelenting immune activation. Also, adipose tissue, or body fat, is so capable of hormone production that it is often referred to as an endocrine organ by itself, able to kindle a low-grade inflammation that stresses tissues and promotes disease.

... the combination of unhealthy diet and obesity explain in part the rise in autoimmune conditions such as celiac disease, type 1 diabetes and other illnesses that occur when the body turns on itself.

And perhaps most fascinating (“you are what your parents and grandparents ate”):

Other work by some of the same researchers also raises the possibility that disease risk from microbiota can cross generations... The impact of a Western diet on risk for obesity and cancer can persist for generations, and gut microbes may be responsible, a study published in April suggests. If supported by more research, the findings mean that inherited risk for some diseases is about more than genetics and may be reversible.

The gut microbiome area is a hot area of research, and it appears to hold immense promise for human health—perhaps greater than any medical advances yet seen. But it also appears that it may take a decade or two to sort out the complexity.

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