According to a study conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Cleveland Clinic (United States), adopting a Western diet alters the intestinal immune system in such a way that it increases the risk of infection and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The study in question, published on May 18 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, indicates thata diet rich in sugars and fats damages Paneth cells, immune cells in the intestinal lining, which help control inflammation.When these cells are not functioning properly, the intestinal immune system is prone to too much inflammation, which exposes in fine at a greater risk of infection and inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. People with this disease often have Paneth cells that have stopped working.
The study was conducted among 400 people whose researchers analyzed demographic and clinical data, and in mice genetically predisposed to obesity, and subjected to a diet too high in fats and sugars.
“Obesity was not the problem in itself”said Dr Ta-Chiang Liu. “Eating too much of a healthy diet did not affect the Paneth cells. It was the high fat and sugar diet that was the problem”, he clarified
In this study, Paneth cells from the mice used returned to normal when the animals were returned to a healthy diet for four weeks.
Whether people who usually eat a Western diet can improve their gut immunity by changing their diet remains to be seen, Dr Liu said. “It is possible that if you follow a western diet for a very long time, you cross a point of no return and your paneth cells do not recover even if you change your diet. We would need to do more research before we can say whether this process is reversible in humans ”, commented the researcher in a communicated.
The adoption ofa healthy and balanced diet, close to the Mediterranean diet, is anyway better for many other aspects of health, especially cardiovascular, so it would be better to get as close as possible.