According to researchers at Georgia State University’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences, processed diets that are low in fiber may initially reduce the incidence of foodborne infectious diseases such as E. coli infections, but they may also increase the incidence of diseases characterized by low-grade chronic infection and inflammation such as diabetes.
The researchers used mice to investigate how switching from a grain-based diet to a highly processed, high-fat Western-style diet affects infection with the pathogen Citrobacter rodentium, which is similar to E. coli infections in humans. The study’s findings have been published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
Processed diets, which are low in fiber, may initially reduce the incidence of foodborne infectious diseases such as E. coli infections, but might also increase the incidence of diseases characterized by low-grade chronic infection and inflammation such as diabetes, according to researchers.
Gut microbiota, or microorganisms that live in the intestine, provide a variety of benefits, including protecting the host from bacterial pathogen infection. These microorganisms are influenced by a number of environmental factors, particularly diet, and rely heavily on complex carbohydrates like fiber.
The Western-style diet, which includes a lot of processed foods, red meat, high-fat dairy products, high-sugar foods, and pre-packaged foods, is low in fiber, which is necessary for gut microbiota support. Dietary changes, particularly a lack of fiber, are thought to have contributed to the rise in the prevalence of chronic inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, and cancer.
The researchers discovered that switching mice from a standard grain-based rodent chow to a high-fat, low-fiber Western-style diet resulted in a rapid reduction in the number of gut bacteria in this study. Mice fed a Western-style diet were frequently unable to eliminate the pathogen Citrobacter rodentium from their intestines. When re-challenged by this pathogen, they were also more likely to develop chronic infection.
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, is abnormally high. Blood glucose is your primary source of energy, and it is obtained from the foods you consume. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, aids in the transport of glucose from food into your cells for use as energy. Sometimes your body does not produce enough – or any – insulin, or it does not use insulin effectively. Glucose remains in your blood and does not reach your cells as a result.
According to the researchers, a Western-style diet reduces the number of gut bacteria and promotes microbiota encroachment into the intestine, potentially influencing immune system readiness and the body’s defense against pathogenic bacteria.
“Surprisingly, feeding mice a Western-style diet rather than standard rodent grain-based chow changed the dynamics of Citrobacter infection, reducing initial colonization and inflammation. Mice fed a Western-style diet, on the other hand, frequently developed the persistent infection, which was associated with low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance “Dr. Andrew Gewirtz, senior co-author of the study and professor at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences, explained his findings. “These findings show that altering microbiota and their metabolites through diet has the potential to influence the course and outcome of infection following exposure to a gut pathogen.”
“We hypothesize that reshaping gut microbiota through nutrients that promote beneficial bacteria that outcompete pathogens may be a means of broadly promoting health,” said Dr. Jun Zou, senior co-author of the study and assistant professor in Georgia State’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences.