PAMPs in processed food may be making you sick.
Pathogen-associated molecular patterns, or PAMPs
, are molecules associated with bacteria, viruses, and fungi that are recognized by the immune system. Common PAMPs are lipopolysaccharide, flagella proteins, and double-stranded DNA. These PAMPs bind Toll-like receptors (TLRs
) that are produced by macrophages and dendritic cells. TLRs then activate the immune system to fight off the invading pathogen.
A University of Leicester study identified a link between PAMPs, processed food, and conditions like coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes. According to study author Clett Erridge, “in essence, we have discovered that contaminating molecules that arise in processed foods from the overgrowth of a specific type of bacteria during refrigeration or food processing can cause our immune systems to over-react in a manner that might be damaging to health when we eat foods containing these molecules”.
In the study, 11 healthy participants followed a low-PAMP diet. After one week, their “bad” LDL cholesterol decreased by 18% and their white blood cell count (an indicator of inflammation) decreased by 11%. On top of that, the participants lost an average of 0.6 kg and slimmed down their waistlines by 1.5 cm.
Erridge and colleagues hope to find a way to decrease PAMPs in processed foods, without altering the taste or quality. Until then, think twice when reaching for that cheese, chocolate, or pre-made frozen meal. Go for fresh foods instead!
Source: University of Leicester