Health and Wellness: Inflammation Part 2

Blog 6.2: Inflammation Part 2

On the previous blog, we focused on how advanced glycation end products(AGEs), which are particularly high in animal products, promote inflammation. On the current blog, we will explore other factors in our diet which contribute to inflammation.

 It has been shown that a western diet which is typically rich in saturated fats/cholesterol, animal protein, high sugar and refined/processed foods not only promotes obesity, heart disease, and Diabetes but also plays a role in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Type 1 diabetes, and psoriasis.

 The exact mechanism on how western diet leads to increased inflammation and promotes not only cardiometabolic diseases but also autoimmune diseases is being actively researched. One proposed mechanism is Exogenous Endotoxin theory.

Endotoxins are heat resistant toxins that come from bacteria. Endotoxins are prevalent in animal products(meat, eggs, dairy) and fermented foods. Adequately cooking food will in general destroy bacteria, but not endotoxins since they are heat resistant. Furthermore, animal fat boosts absorption of endotoxin from our gut thereby increasing its level in our blood. Higher levels of endotoxins in the blood trigger the immune system to increase inflammation.

 Beneficial gut bacteria, which thrive on whole food plant based diet, help in maintaining an effective gut barrier limiting absorption of endotoxin. Study performed by Italian investigators showed that a high fiber diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains leads to healthy intestinal bacteria which promote health. Whereas a typical western diet replete in animal products and processed foods leads to preponderance of unhealthy bacteria in our gut.

 Alteration of gut microbiota (varying species of bacteria in our gut) can cause immune dysregulation. This dysregulation of the immune system has been implicated in various autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, Type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

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