Meals Trigger Inflammation

We are not only taking in nutrients when we eat we are also consuming a significant quantity of bacteria. That’s certainly not fun to think about! In order to fight these bacteria, our body is faced with the challenge of simultaneously distributing the ingested glucose and fighting these bacteria. An inflammatory response is triggered that activates the immune systems of healthy individuals and serves as protection. Doctors from the University and the University Hospital Basel have proven this for the first time. This inflammatory response fails dramatically in overweight individuals and can lead to diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is an adult-onset type that leads to chronic inflammation with many negative impacts.  Diabetes, by impeding the over-production of a substance involved in this process called interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), has been the treatment in a number of clinical studies.  This triggers chronic inflammation and causes insulin-producing beta cells to die off.

There are some positive sides of inflammation that was reported in the journal Nature Immunology.  Researchers from the Department of Biomedicine at the University and the University Hospital Basel have reported these findings. Short-term inflammatory responses play an important role in sugar uptake in healthy individuals and the activation of the immune system.

Professor Marc Donath, head of the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University Hospital Basel and his research team have demonstrated the number of acrophages, a type of immune cell around the intestines, increases during mealtime. These are called scavenger cells that produce the messenger substance IL-1beta in varying amounts. This depends upon the concentration of glucose in the blood and in turn, stimulates insulin production in pancreatic beta cells. The macrophages are then caused to increase IL-1beta production, while along with insulin, they work to regulate blood sugar levels and the messenger substance IL-1beta ensures that the immune system is supplied with glucose and remains active.

The mechanism of the metabolism and immune system is dependent on the bacteria and nutrients that are ingested during meals. The immune system is able to adequately combat foreign bacteria with sufficient nutrients, but when there is a lack of nutrients, the few remaining calories must be conserved for important life functions at the expense of an immune response.  This may help to explain why infectious diseases occur more frequently in times of famine.

Dr. Fredda Branyon