Processed Foods Indisputably Linked to Auto-Immune Disease
U.S. fast foods have twice the salt of other countries
How I wish that could be the headline for this article, but microwave meals and processed convenience foods are still killing us softly, as I’ve reported before. This time, the study points to a considerable increase in auto-immune diseases like multiple sclerosis, alopecia, asthma, and eczema.
Whether its junk food from fast-food chains or junk food that is drowning in preservatives from your grocery store, this particular study from Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, as well as another from Harvard, reports that junk food diets are to blame for an increase in these diseases.
Specifically, it is the refined sugar and highly processed salt causing the major decline in health – but of course we can’t overlook the unhealthy ingredients as a whole – from artificial colors to genetically modified ingredients.
Taking dietary salt to task in this case, and as reported in Nature, Yale researchers showed that it can induce and worsen pathogenic immune system responses in mice and that the response is regulated by genes already implicated in a variety of autoimmune diseases.
Dr. David Hafler, the Gilbert H. Glaser Professor of Neurology, professor of immunobiology, chair of the Department of Neurology, and senior author of the Yale paper, stated:
“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.”
Junk Food Diets
When researchers added salt to the diet of mice, it encouraged production of a type of T cells previously associated with autoimmune diseases. Mice on a high-salt diet developed a more severe form of an MS animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.
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.
Fast food restaurants and processed grocery store foods are the culprit. They are the largest source of refined salts in the American diet, but this trend is showing up in other countries as well, since fast food chains have infiltrated the entire global economy.
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. While salt content varied in each establishment, U.S. fast foods had more than twice the salt of other countries’ fast foods.
Legislators have forced the reduction of salt in other countries, but US regulators have allowed the fast food and convenience food industries to go salt crazy, according to Norm Campbell, M.D., one of the study authors and a blood-pressure specialist at the University of Calgary.
Part of this phenomenon is due to the ‘low-fat’ food label. Essentially, in order to make foods taste better, food makers rely on salt to make food palatable. A salad dressing may be labeled low-fat for instance and contain only .5 grams of fat, but it will be bursting at the seams with 510 mg of salt. In the study, one item from Subway, a 6-inch roasted garlic loaf without meat or any other sandwich contents (just the bread) – contained 1260 mg of salt. That’s equivalent to around 14 strips of bacon.