Health & Wellness

What Fast Food May Be Doing to Your Body

A new study suggests that our bodies react to a diet full of fat, sugar, and salt the way they would to an infection.

By Katrina Caruso

Our bodies can’t handle fast food the way they handle more nutritious options, according to the results of a new study. In fact, researchers found that our bodies appear to treat fast food as an infection of some sort.

For the purpose of the study, the results of which were published in the journal Cell, mice were fed a so-called “Western” diet (high in carbs, fat, salt, and sugar, and low in fruits and veggies) rather than a grain diet for one month. The diet caused inflammation in the mice’s bodies almost immediately. Inflammation occurs in our bodies when we’re fighting off an infection. In response to the change in diet, the mice’s bone marrow began to generate more immune cells.

After four weeks of the Western diet, the mice got their old food back—and the inflammation went away.

However, the researchers found that mice who’d been on the fast-food diet exhibited a genetic reprogramming that did not revert once they were back on the grain diet. This means that the mice, after one month of eating low-nutrient food, had long-term damage. The long-term effects were seen in an over-active immune system, which the study reports can put a person at risk for diseases and health problems such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

Food for thought for next time you’re considering going to the drive-through.

Photo: iStock/dolgachov.