A new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, proposes that the high fat-keto diet also called as Western diet may increase the risk of severe sepsis and death from the infection. This research was conducted at Portland State University.
The Western diet is the most prevalent diet in westernized countries. It is characterized by the eating of foods which are high in fat but low in fiber. It is well known that this diet plan can cause damage to kidneys, cardiovascular health, and also cause obesity.
But, it is becoming apparent that the Western diet can also have damaging effects on the immune system. This includes growing risks of severe sepsis, which is the 11th most common cause of death worldwide.
Sepsis is generally known as blood poisoning. The disease can occur when the body reacts too aggressively to an infection. Thus, attacking its own tissues and organs.
In this disease, the body goes into a state of overactivity and can lead to responses causing clotting, inflammation, and organ failure. It is not wholly understood what controls this immunological response, or what effects the consequence and severity of sepsis.
Experiment on mice models
In a current study, Brooke Napier (Portland State University), found that when mice were fed with a ‘Western diet’, they were more likely to contract sepsis and suffered poorer consequences, than mice who were fed a balanced diet rich in fiber.
The research findings showed that the mice that were fed this high-fat, high-sugar diet presented higher chronic inflammation. They also presented increased sepsis-associated immunoparalysis and altered neutrophil populations in the blood. These mice also showed an increase in sepsis severity and higher death rates than mice fed a normal fiber-rich diet.
The rise in sepsis severity and mortality was not dependent on the diet-associated microbiome. This suggested that diet might be “directly regulating your innate immune system”. But, the exact mechanism through which this happens remains unknown.
According to the researchers of the study, the immune system of the mice on the Western diet functioned differently. It appears like the diet is manipulating your immune cell function, consequently, you are more vulnerable to sepsis. And, when you get sepsis, you die even quicker.
The research team also recognized molecular markers which could be used as biomarkers for patients at high risk of developing severe sepsis.
They reported that treatments could be predicted and tailored depending on whether a patient has these “cell populations” in their blood.
The bottom line
By introducing a dietary intervention to patients while they are in the ICU may decrease their odds of manipulating their immune system in that way. In this way, you can somehow influence the consequence.
Researchers also predict that if it is the fats in the diet which are reprogramming the immune system, then these discoveries might apply to both Western and high-fat diets. They will now examine whether certain fats in the diet are able to affect the higher sepsis severity risk.