We all know that fast food isn’t good for our health. The foods are highly processed, contain high amounts of salt and fats, and have extremely little nutritional value. That doesn’t stop us from indulging in it once in a while because who can say no to a meaty and juicy burger and crispy golden French fries as an occasional treat to ourselves? Although moderation is key, a recent study suggests that consuming fast food can have a harmful effect on our immune system.

Professors from the University of Bonn put this to the test by investigating exactly how our bodies respond to the consumption of fast food. Dr Eicke Latz and Dr Anette Christ placed a group of mice on a fast food diet for a month, by feeding them items high in fat and sugar while eliminating healthy foods that provide fibre.

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As a result of this diet, they found out that the fast food diet had affected the immune cells in their bodies, producing an inflammatory effect. However, when the mice were given cereal as part of their diet for the next four weeks, the acute inflammation in their bodies disappeared.

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The professors also examined blood samples from 120 subjects and discovered that some of them had the presence of a compound called inflammasome. Inflammasomes recognise harmful substances within our bodies and subsequently release highly inflammatory chemicals.

These inflammatory responses can, in turn, accelerate the development of vascular diseases or type 2 diabetes. This reveals that our bodies respond to the consumption of fast food as they would to a bacterial infection!

Dr Eicke Latz emphasises the importance of receiving good nutrition and advises that parents pay attention to their children’s dietary habits as well. Taking care of your health and increasing your lifespan is as simple as adopting a healthy diet with lots of fresh, fibrous foods and regular exercise.

Want to improve your immune system? Read this:

Text: Divyata Raut/ Shape / January 2018
Images: Unsplash