MAY 03, 2021 7:30 AM PDT

Junk Food Helps Bad Bacteria Thrive In the Gut, Promotes Inflammation

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

We know that processed foods like ice cream, potato chips, and candy bars in excess can cause people to pile on the pounds. However, new research shows that by destroying the natural gut microbiome, these foods can also promote chronic, low-grade infections that lead to inflammatory diseases such as diabetes.

A diverse group of “good” microorganisms colonizes the intestinal tract where they protect against infection by pathogenic bacteria. This microbiota also helps in the development and maintenance of the mucosal immune system, to keep “bad” bacteria at bay.

In a research study by scientists at Georgia State University, mice were first fed a standard diet of whole grains before being switched to a high-fat, low-fiber alternative to mimic the Western-style diet. Initially, the researchers observed a huge loss of gut bacteria in these mice.

Subsequently, mice on the fatty diet also experienced chronic infections by a pathogen called Citrobacter rodentium. According to the authors, the imbalance in natural protective microbiota may be disrupting how the immune system recognizes and eliminates pathogenic threats in the gut. Additionally, it may be contributing to the onset of inflammatory diseases such as diabetes.

“We observed that feeding mice a Western-style diet, rather than standard rodent grain-based chow, altered the dynamics of Citrobacter infection, reducing initial colonization and inflammation, which was surprising. However, mice consuming the Western-style diet frequently developed a persistent infection that was associated with low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance,” said Andrew Gewirtz, a senior author of the study.

“These studies demonstrate the potential of altering microbiota and their metabolites by diet to impact the course and consequence of infection following exposure to a gut pathogen.”

 

 

Sources: PLOS Pathogens, Georgia State University.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
DEC 29, 2020
Immunology
Cancer-Killing Viruses Enter in Stealth Mode, Penetrate Immune Barrier
DEC 29, 2020
Cancer-Killing Viruses Enter in Stealth Mode, Penetrate Immune Barrier
Viruses that when administered to patients preferentially attack and kill cancer cells, leaving normal tissues unscathed ...
JAN 12, 2021
Immunology
Killer Control: Engineered Stem Cells Dodge Transplant Rejection
JAN 12, 2021
Killer Control: Engineered Stem Cells Dodge Transplant Rejection
The first organ transplant—performed over 60 years ago—was a success because the donor and recipient were id ...
JAN 28, 2021
Immunology
Killers With a Hit on the Spike
JAN 28, 2021
Killers With a Hit on the Spike
Natural killer cells, or NK cells, are specialized immune cells of the innate immune system. Their job revolves around e ...
APR 08, 2021
Immunology
What's That Frozen Pizza Doing to Your Immune System?
APR 08, 2021
What's That Frozen Pizza Doing to Your Immune System?
In a recent study, scientists found that commonly-used chemical additives added to processed foods can have toxic effect ...
APR 27, 2021
Neuroscience
Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier Linked to Schizophrenia
APR 27, 2021
Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier Linked to Schizophrenia
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that people with schizophrenia may have a more permeable bloo ...
APR 29, 2021
Immunology
A Week for World Immunization
APR 29, 2021
A Week for World Immunization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling our attention to World Immunization Week, which comes in the last week of ...
Loading Comments...