How is junk food dangerous

Bonn -

It is well known that fans of fast food live unhealthily. Those who often eat fast food dishes such as french fries, burgers, pizza or kebab become fat and are more susceptible to disease. This is not news at first. In a 2016 study, researchers showed that the consumption of fast food, i.e. a diet high in fat and sugar, affects our brain. After just three days, the brain fights back and reacts like a bacterial inflammation. This can have permanent consequences for the body.

In a recent study, researchers from Bonn fed the typical western fast food diet to mice. For around four weeks, the animals were only given food that was rich in fat, sugar and low in fiber. The result: The animals developed massive inflammatory reactions throughout the body, comparable to those after a dangerous bacterial infection.

Immune cells promote diabetes and vascular calcification

"The unhealthy diet led to an unexpected increase in some immune cells in the blood," explains Anette Christ, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Innate Immunity at the University of Bonn in a press release. The immune cells that promote vascular calcification and diabetes have increased. The researchers published their results in the specialist magazine "Cell".

"We have only recently known that the innate immune system has a memory," explains Prof. Dr. Eicke Latz, head of the Bonn institute. “After an infection, the body's defenses remain in a kind of alarm state so that they can react more quickly to a new attack.” In the mice, this process was not triggered by a bacterium, but by an unhealthy diet.

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Immune cells are reprogrammed in the long term

With this experiment, the researchers showed that poor nutrition permanently changes the immune system. When the researchers offered the rodents typical cereal food for another four weeks, the acute symptoms of inflammation disappeared. What remained, however, was the genetic reprogramming of the immune cells, which the researchers describe as "particularly worrying": This means that unhealthy food could make the body's defenses more aggressive in the long term. Inflammation occurs more quickly even long after switching to a healthy diet. These directly promote the development of arteriosclerosis and diabetes.

After eight weeks, the animals finally died. It can be proven that they died from the long-term effects of poor nutrition, for example calcification of the heart. According to the scientists, these consequences, which the researchers were able to observe in the mice in the short period of time, should affect human fast-food eaters after 50 to 60 years. (sar)