That the level of CRP, which indicates inflammation throughout the body, shot up within minutes of eating the high-carb, high-fat meal. The increased inflammation lasted for hours. Then an interesting twist happened in Dr. Dandona's research:
"Over the next decade he tested the effects of various foods on the immune system. A fast-food breakfast inflamed, he found, but a high-fiber breakfast with lots of fruit did not. A breakthrough came in 2007 when he discovered that while sugar water, a stand-in for soda, caused inflammation, orange juice—even though it contains plenty of sugar—didn't."
It appears orange juice, rich in antioxidants and containing some fiber, lowered the body's inflammation. So "O.J." is anti-inflammatory, while that McDonald's meal, like much of modern food today, is pro-inflammatory.
What was also interesting about Dr. Dandona's research is that there was increased amounts of endotoxin -- a molecule from bacteria that alarms the immune system, causing increased systemic inflammation. He reasoned that somehow a high-carb, high-fat meal takes endotoxin from the bacteria in our gut to our bloodstream, while an antioxidant-rich food with fiber like OJ does not.
Read on (click 'read more' below) to learn more about research in this field and to learn how to help your gut's bacteria help you be healthier.
Consider this from the Mother Jones article:
"[New] research suggest another scenario: Inflammation might not be a symptom, it could be a cause. According to this theory, it is the immune activation caused by lousy food that prompts insulin and leptin resistance. Sugar builds up in your blood. Insulin increases. Your liver and pancreas strain to keep up. All because the loudly blaring danger signal—the inflammation—hampers your cells' ability to respond to hormonal signals. Maybe the most dramatic evidence in support of this idea comes from experiments where scientists quash inflammation in animals. If you simply increase the number of white blood cells that alleviate inflammation—called regulatory T-cells—in obese mice with metabolic syndrome, the whole syndrome fades away. Deal with the inflammation, it seems, and you halt the dysfunction."
Or consider this story of a Chinese medical researcher whose preliminary studies on people are so amazing that he was interviewed by the major journal Science.
"The research jibed with ancient precepts in Chinese medicine that viewed the gut as central to health. So Zhao decided on a hybridized approach—some 21st-century microbiology topped with traditional Chinese medicine.
"He changed his diet to whole grains, rich in those prebiotic fibers important for beneficial bacteria. And he began regularly consuming two traditional medicinal foods thought to have such properties: bitter melon and Chinese yam.
"Zhao's blood pressure began normalizing and his "bad" cholesterol declined. Over the course of two years, he lost 44 pounds. He sampled his microbes throughout. As his metabolism normalized, quantities of a bacterium called Faecalibacterium prausnitzii increased in his gut. Was its appearance cause or consequence? Others have observed that this bacterium is absent in people suffering from inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn's disease, as well as Type 2 diabetes. Scientists at the University of Tokyo have shown that colonizing mice with this bacterium and its relatives—called "Clostridium clusters"—protects them against colitis. But still, evidence of causation was lacking.
"Then one day in 2008, a morbidly obese man walked into Zhao's lab in China. The 26-year-old was diabetic, inflamed, had high bad cholesterol, and elevated blood sugar. No one in his immediate family was heavy, but he weighed 385 pounds.
"Zhao noticed something odd about the man's microbes. Thirty-five percent belonged to a single, endotoxin-producing species called Enterobacter cloacae. So he put the man on a version of his own regimen—whole grains supplemented with other prebiotics. As treatment progressed, the Enterobacter cloacae declined, as did circulating endotoxin and markers of inflammation.
"After 23 weeks, the man had lost 113 pounds. That bacterial bloom had receded to the point of being undetectable. Counts of anti-inflammatory bacteria—microbes that specialize in fermenting nondigestible fibers—had increased. But could Zhao prove that these microbial changes caused anything? After all, the regimen may have simply contained far fewer calories than the patient's previous diet."
So what does the author of this article tell us on how we may improve our gut bacteria, and thus in turn how we may decrease systemtic inflammation in our body and prevent obesity and chronic disease?
- Whole grain foods
Consider: "a study by Jens Walter (PDF), a scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He supplemented the diet of 28 volunteers with either brown rice, barley, or both. Otherwise, they continued eating their usual fare. After four weeks, those who consumed both grains saw increased counts of anti-inflammatory bacteria, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation—more so than subjects who just had one grain. Walter doesn't think it's an accident that those who ate both barley and brown rice saw the greatest improvement. The combination likely presented microbes with the largest array of fermentable fibers."
- Fermented foods
This to me is the most interesting food category on the list because it is a category not much talked about (though people attest to the wonderful benefits of eating yogurt regularly).
Consider: "Scientists are also intensely interested in concocting "synbiotics," a mixture of probiotic bacteria and the prebiotic fibers that feed them. This type of combination may already exist in staple dishes and garnishes, from sauerkraut to kefir, in traditional cuisines the world over. In theory, such unpasteurized, fermented foods that retain their microbial communities are a health-producing triple whammy, containing prebiotic fibers, probiotic bacteria, and healthful fermentation byproducts like vitimins B and K. A smattering of recent studies suggest that embracing such grub could protect against metabolic syndrome. In one monthlong trial on 22 overweight South Koreans, unpasteurized fermented kimchi, which is made from cabbage, improved markers of inflammation and caused very minor decreases in body fat."
- Onions and garlic
- Potatoes, bananas, and yams
- Apples and oranges
- Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage and broccoli)
And avoid processed foods, because they are high sugar, high fat and lack variety of fibers and other nutrients found in natural food.