Could processed foods raise the risk of autoimmune diseases?


IF you are already struggling with your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, a study published in the journal Autoimmunity Reviews may help you get back on the ladder; researchers suggest that eating processed foods may weaken the intestines in a way that raises the risk for autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, celiac disease and multiple sclerosis.
Researchers identified at least seven food additives that weakened the intestine’s immune response to toxins, which could lead to autoimmune diseases.
After a hard day at work, it is tempting to reach for foods that are quick and easy to prepare. For many of us, this means turning to processed foods, such as microwave meals, which are usually high in fat, salt, sugar and other additives.
Processed foods are defined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration or milling.”
This means that it is not only microwave meals that meet the “processed” definition; cheese, breakfast cereals, canned fruits and vegetables, bread, savory snacks and meats such as bacon and sausages are also examples of foods that have been subject to some form of processing.
A number of studies have reported the negative health effects of consuming some processed foods, including increased risk of weight gain and heart disease. And last October, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that eating processed meats can cause colorectal cancer.
Now, Prof. Aaron Lerner, of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, and Dr. Torsten Matthias, of the Aesku-Kipp Institute in Germany, suggest the consumption of processed foods may be associated with development of autoimmune diseases.
At least seven food additives may weaken intestine’s resistance to toxins
An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body, mistaking them for foreign invaders. This can lead to destruction of body tissue and abnormal organ growth and function.
More than 75% of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods
Generally, any food that has a nutrition label has been processed
Not all food processing is bad; milk, for example, needs to go through a pasteurizing process to remove any harmful bacteria.
There are more than 100 types of autoimmune disorders. Some of the more common forms include celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

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