Study shows how processed foods might increase incidents of diabetes

Plant-Based Diets May Help Prevent Diabetes

The study of mice involved a standard grain-based diet and a Western-style diet

A new Georgia State University study shows the link between processed foods and diabetes.

Researchers at the school’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences found that initially, low-fiber processed diets may decrease the rate of foodborne infectious diseases, but it might boost the rate of diseases such as diabetes. These conditions are characterized by low-grade chronic infection and inflammation.

The findings were published earlier this month in the journal, PLOS Pathogens.

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To investigate how switching from a grain-based diet to a highly processed, high-fat diet impacts E. coli infection, researchers conducted a study of mice. They focused on the pathogen Citrobacter rodentium, which resembles E. coli.

The highly-processed, high-fat diet is a Western-style diet.

Processed foods can offer convenience and while not all of them are bad, many of them are filled with hidden fat, sugar and salt.

“Additives such as salt and fat are there to make the food safe for consumption. Preservatives are also added to increase the food’s shelf life. When it comes to sticking to a healthy diet, though, the pros of these additives may not outweigh the cons,” Healthline reported.

The Western-style diet lacks fiber, a carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. That carb is required to support gut microbiota. It’s believed that dietary changes — particularly those without fiber — are thought to have added to the higher pervasiveness of chronic inflammatory diseases. They include metabolic syndrome, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

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During their study, researchers discovered that changing mices’ diet from a standard grain-based rodent chow to a Western-style diet led to a swift decrease in the number of gut bacteria. Often, mice that consumed the Western-style diet couldn’t clear the pathogen Citrobacter rodentium from the colon. Additionally, they were inclined to develop a chronic infection from the pathogen.

“We observed that feeding mice a Western-style diet, rather than standard rodent grain-based chow, altered the dynamics of Citrobacter infection, reducing initial colonization and inflammation, which was surprising. However, mice consuming the Western-style diet frequently developed persistent infection that was associated with low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance,” Andrew Gewirtz, Ph.D., lead coauthor of the study and professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences said in a press release. “These studies demonstrate potential of altering microbiota and their metabolites by diet to impact the course and consequence of infection following exposure to a gut pathogen.”

Added fellow lead coauthor and assistant professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences Jun Zou, Ph.D., “we speculate that reshaping gut microbiota by nutrients that promote beneficial bacteria that out-compete pathogens may be a means of broadly promoting health.”

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