A Western diet high in fat and sugar can pack on the pounds. But it can also put someone at greater risk of developing severe sepsis, according to a new study.
The study was conducted by Portland State University.
The research takes a closer look at how the Western diet affects the severity and outcome of sepsis.
Sepsis is the body’s reaction to fighting an infection.
It can lead to shock and organ failure. It’s the 11th most common cause of death worldwide.
In the study, the researchers fed mice with the Western diet—a diet characterized as being low in fiber and high in fat and sugar.
They found the mice showed an increase in chronic inflammation, sepsis severity and higher mortality rates than mice that were fed a normal diet.
The findings suggest the mice had more severe sepsis and were dying faster because of something in their diet, not because of the weight gain or microbiome, the body’s community of bacteria.
The team suggests the mice’s immune system on the Western diet looked and functioned differently.
The findings can help hospitals better monitor the diets of patients in the intensive care unit since they’re already the ones most likely to develop sepsis.
The team also identified molecular markers in Western diet-fed mice that could be used as predictors or biomarkers for patients that are at high risk for severe sepsis or patients that may need more aggressive treatment.
Looking ahead, the team is studying whether specific fats in the high-fat diet might be influencing immune cell function.
Co-authors of the study included Marta Andres-Terre, Liliana Massis, Andrew Hryckowian, Steven Higginbottom, Katherine Cumnock, Kerriann Casey, Kyler Lugo, David Schneider, Justin Sonnenburg, and Denise Monack, all from Stanford University School of Medicine.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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