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. 2014 Jun 17;13:61.
doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-61.

Fast Food Fever: Reviewing the Impacts of the Western Diet on Immunity

Free PMC article

Fast Food Fever: Reviewing the Impacts of the Western Diet on Immunity

Ian A Myles. Nutr J. .
Free PMC article


While numerous changes in human lifestyle constitute modern life, our diet has been gaining attention as a potential contributor to the increase in immune-mediated diseases. The Western diet is characterized by an over consumption and reduced variety of refined sugars, salt, and saturated fat. Herein our objective is to detail the mechanisms for the Western diet's impact on immune function. The manuscript reviews the impacts and mechanisms of harm for our over-indulgence in sugar, salt, and fat, as well as the data outlining the impacts of artificial sweeteners, gluten, and genetically modified foods; attention is given to revealing where the literature on the immune impacts of macronutrients is limited to either animal or in vitro models versus where human trials exist. Detailed attention is given to the dietary impact on the gut microbiome and the mechanisms by which our poor dietary choices are encoded into our gut, our genes, and are passed to our offspring. While today's modern diet may provide beneficial protection from micro- and macronutrient deficiencies, our over abundance of calories and the macronutrients that compose our diet may all lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Diagrammatic overview of select mechanisms for diet-induced inflammation, dysbiosis, and inheritance. (A) Diagrammatic representation of the reported mechanisms for how diet alters the gut microbiome. (B) Summary of the current reported mechanisms for inheritance of the microbiome from mother to child. TLR4-dep, Toll-like receptor 4 dependent; SFA, saturated fatty acids; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; n-6, omega-6 fatty acids; n-3, omega-3 fatty acids; Th, T-helper cell; Treg, T-regulatory cell.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Diagrammatic overview of the current mechanisms for macro-components of the modern diet altering susceptibility to infection, allergy, and autoimmunity. Solid black lines indicate direct human evidence for enhancement is present; solid red lines indicate direct human evidence of inhibition exists; grey lines indicate only in vitro or animal model evidence exist currently; dotted lines indicate significant disagreement within the scientific literature. TLR4, Toll-like receptor 4; IL-, Interleukin; TNF, tumor necrosis factor; Treg, T-regulatory cell. All clip art and images sourced from free-for-us online repositories.

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