The incidence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) has increased over the last few decades, and one of the major contributors to this is lifestyle, especially diet. High intake of saturated fatty acids and low intake of dietary fiber is linked to an increase in NCDs. Conversely, a low intake of saturated fatty acids and a high intake of dietary fiber seem to have a protective effect on general health. Several mechanisms have been identified that underlie this phenomenon. In this review, we focus on pharmacological receptors, including the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, binding partners of the retinoid X receptor, G-coupled protein receptors, and toll-like receptors, which can be activated by nutritional components and their metabolites. Depending on the nutritional component and the receptors involved, both proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects occur, leading to an altered immune response. These insights may provide opportunities for the prevention and treatment of NCDs and their inherent (sub)chronic inflammation. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: This review summarizes the reported effects of nutritional components and their metabolites on the immune system through manipulation of specific (pharmacological) receptors, including the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, binding partners of the retinoid X receptor, G-coupled protein receptors, and toll-like receptors. Nutritional components, such as vitamins, fibers, and unsaturated fatty acids are able to resolve inflammation, whereas saturated fatty acids tend to exhibit proinflammatory effects. This may aid decision makers and scientists in developing strategies to decrease the incidence of noncommunicable diseases.
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