Western diet changes gut bacteria and triggers colitis in those at risk

ClinicalNews.Org

15 Jun 2012

Certain saturated fats that are common in the modern Western diet can initiate a chain of events leading to complex immune disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in people with a genetic predisposition, according to a study to be published early online in the journal Nature.

The finding helps explain why once-rare immune-mediated diseases have become more common in westernized societies in the last half century. It also provides insights into why many individuals who are genetically prone to these diseases are never affected and how certain environmental factors can produce inflammation in individuals already at risk.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that concentrated milk fats, which are abundant in processed and confectionary foods, alter the composition of bacteria in the intestines. These changes can disrupt the delicate truce between the immune system and the complex but largely beneficial mix of bacteria in the…

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