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Junk Food Overdrives Immune System

We’ve heard for years about the connection between our diet and our immune system. Now, a group of German researchers has discovered that High-Fat, High-Cal foods can trigger the same immune system responses as a bacterial infection. And that can cause complications in the long term…

Elderly Do Better On The Med Diet - © cdn-a.william-reed.comEven the most venerable of the elderly, and the most frail, can benefit from espousing
a ‘clean’ diet’ low in Fats and Calories and high in Fresh Fruits and Veggies.

Unhealthy food seems to make the body’s defenses more aggressive in the long term. Even long after switching to a healthy diet, inflammation due to innate immune stimulation is more pronounced. These long-term changes may be involved in the development of arteriosclerosis and diabetes, diseases linked to ‘Western diet’ consumption.

In the simplest sense, High-Fat, High-Cal foods trigger immune responses in the body, and those responses can linger for weeks after the subject goes back on a healthier diet.This appears to be because the body, when it detects an ‘infection’, triggers genes that produce immune system cells to combat the intruder. The problem is, those genes remain turned on weeks after the infection has been suppressed, putting the immune system on high alert even though no immediate threat exists.

This kind of immune system hyperactivity can lead to what the German researchers call ‘innate immune system memory’. And that means that the immune system remains much more likely to release chemical signals indicating a new attack is imminent. Those chemical signals typically take the form of highly inflammatory compounds which can stress the body’s critical systems, accelerating the development of cardio vascular diseases and type 2 diabetes

The bottom line…

…Is that a diet high in Fast Food, and similarly High-Cal, High-Fat choices, is a bad idea no matter what your age or background.

“These findings therefore have important societal relevance,” explains Prof. Dr. Eicke Latz from the Institute for Innate Immunity of the University of Bonn, a lead researcher in the study. “The foundations of a healthy diet need to become a much more prominent part of education than they are at present. Only in this way can we immunize children at an early stage against the temptations of the food industry. Children have a choice of what they eat every day. We should enable them to make conscious decisions regarding their dietary habits.”

Latz also notes that, in recent centuries, average life expectancy has steadily increased in Western countries. This positive trend is considered as much a result of better diet and sanitation as it is of advances in medical science. But this trend is currently being turned around for the first time: Individuals born today are deemed likely to live shorter lives on average than their parents. Unhealthy diets and too little exercise likely play a decisive role in this.


You can still do something to rein in your immune system and it’s potentially descriptive memory. Switching to a healthier diet is probably the easiest change a person can make toward living longer and feeling better. Try the Mediterranean diet. Independent researchers recently published study results indicating that the Med Diet can make the frail elderly happier and healthier, as well as combating heart disease…

~ Maggie J.