Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease
The modern diet of processed foods, takeaways and microwave meals
could be to blame for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as
multiple sclerosis, including alopecia, asthma and eczema.
A team of scientists from Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany, say junk food diets could be partly to blame.
‘This study is the first to indicate that excess refined and
processed salt may be one of the environmental factors driving the
increased incidence of autoimmune diseases,’ they said.
Junk foods at fast food restaurants as well as processed foods at
grocery retailers represent the largest sources of sodium intake from
The Canadian Medical Association Journal sent out an international team of researchers to compare the salt content of 2,124 items from fast food establishments such as Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s,
Pizza Hut and Subway. They found that the average salt content varied
between companies and between the same products sold in different
U.S. fast foods are often more than twice as salt-laden as those of
other countries. While government-led public health campaigns and
legislation efforts have reduced refined salt levels in many countries,
the U.S. government has been reluctant to press the issue. That’s left
fast-food companies free to go salt crazy, says Norm Campbell, M.D., one of the study authors and a blood-pressure specialist at the University of Calgary.
Many low-fat foods rely on salt–and lots of it–for their flavor. One
packet of KFC’s Marzetti Light Italian Dressing might only have 15
calories and 0.5 grams fat, but it also has 510 mg sodium–about 1.5
times as much as one Original Recipe chicken drumstick. (Feel like
you’re having too much of a good thing? You probably are.
Bread is the No. 1 source of refined salt consumption in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway–just the bread, no
meat, no cheeses, no nothing–has 1,260 mg sodium, about as much as 14
strips of bacon.
How Refined Salt Causes Autoimmune Disease
The team from Yale University studied the role of T helper cells in
the body. These activate and ‘help’ other cells to fight dangerous
pathogens such as bacteria or viruses and battle infections. Previous
research suggests that a subset of these cells – known as Th17 cells –
also play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases.
In the latest study, scientists discovered that exposing these cells
in a lab to a table salt solution made them act more ‘aggressively.’
They found that mice fed a diet high in refined salts saw a dramatic
increase in the number of Th17 cells in their nervous systems that
They were also more likely to develop a severe form of a disease associated with multiple sclerosis in humans.
The scientists then conducted a closer examination of these effects at a molecular level.
Laboratory tests revealed that salt exposure increased the levels of
cytokines released by Th17 cells 10 times more than usual. Cytokines are
proteins used to pass messages between cells.
Study co-author Ralf Linker, from the University of
Erlangen-Nuremberg, said: ‘These findings are an important contribution
to the understanding of multiple sclerosis and may offer new targets for
a better treatment of the disease, for which at present there is no
It develops when the immune system mistakes the myelin that surrounds
the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord for a foreign body.
It strips the myelin off the nerves fibres, which disrupts messages
passed between the brain and body causing problems with speech, vision
Another of the study’s authors, Professor David Hafler, from Yale
University, said that nature had clearly not intended for the immune
system to attack its host body, so he expected that an external factor
was playing a part.
He said: ‘These are not diseases of bad genes alone or diseases
caused by the environment, but diseases of a bad interaction between
genes and the environment.
‘Humans were genetically selected for conditions in sub-Saharan
Africa, where there was no salt. It’s one of the reasons that having a
particular gene may make African Americans much more sensitive to salt.
‘Today, Western diets all have high salt content and that has led to increase in hypertension and perhaps autoimmune disease as well.’
The team next plan to study the role that Th17 cells play in autoimmune conditions that affect the skin.
‘It would be interesting to find out if patients with psoriasis can
alleviate their symptoms by reducing their salt intake,’ they said.
‘However, the development of autoimmune diseases is a very complex
process which depends on many genetic and environmental factors.’
Stick to Good Salts
Refined, processed and bleached
salts are the problem. Salt is critical to our health and is the most
readily available nonmetallic mineral in the world. Our bodies are not
designed to processed refined sodium chloride since it has no
nutritional value. However, when a salt is filled with dozens of
minerals such as in rose-coloured crystals of Himalayan rock salt or the
grey texture of Celtic salt, our bodies benefit tremendously for their
incorporation into our diet.
“These mineral salts are
identical to the elements of which our bodies have been built and were
originally found in the primal ocean from where life originated,” argues
Dr Barbara Hendel, researcher and co-author of Water & Salt, The
Essence of Life. “We have salty tears and salty perspiration. The
chemical and mineral composition of our blood and body fluids are
similar to sea water. From the beginning of life, as unborn babies, we
are encased in a sack of salty fluid.”
“In water, salt dissolves into
mineral ions,” explains Dr Hendel. “These conduct electrical nerve
impulses that drive muscle movement and thought processes. Just the
simple act of drinking a glass of water requires millions of
instructions that come from mineral ions. They’re also needed to balance
PH levels in the body.”
Mineral salts, she says, are
healthy because they give your body the variety of mineral ions needed
to balance its functions, remain healthy and heal. These healing
properties have long been recognised in central Europe. At Wieliczka in
Poland, a hospital has been carved in a salt mountain. Asthmatics and
patients with lung disease and allergies find that breathing air in the
saline underground chambers helps improve symptoms in 90 per cent of
Dr Hendel believes too few
minerals, rather than too much salt, may be to blame for health
problems. It’s a view that is echoed by other academics such as David
McCarron, of Oregon Health Sciences University in the US.
He says salt has always been part
of the human diet, but what has changed is the mineral content of our
food. Instead of eating food high in minerals, such as nuts, fruit and
vegetables, people are filling themselves up with “mineral empty”
processed food and fizzy drinks.
Thanks to: http://aworldchaos.wordpress.com
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