Western diets rich in saturated fat and high-saturated-fried food content may alter gut microflora and intestinal immunity, according to a recent study by researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (BRC).
The study used cellular and fecal samples from 10 healthy 19-year-old men recruited for this study. Participants were followed for a 14-day period after which they were part of a food challenge in standard laboratory conditions (high-saturated-fried versus normal-saturated fat).
Two biomarkers—proteins that are altered in the presence of the rich fat diet—identified in the samples.
The gut microbiota and gut immune system were control and dietary controls at rest and at three different ‘feeding’ intervals (i.e. high, normal, and low-saturated fat) over the course of six days. Prior to each feeding interval, a 2-mL gut microbiota test was performed to mass identify gut microbiome composition.
Type I interferon-gamma (PG) and type I interferon (IGF)-gamma receptors (triggered by chronic inflammatory responses) were presence of 2-FGFR signaling at rest. Since higher levels of PG and IGF-2 receptor signaling resulted in immune responses, all subjects drank a saline solution supplemented with either 100% good quality dark chocolate, 101% good quality dark chocolate or control.
At each feeding interval stimulated by a high-saturated fat diet, PGE2 and PG-1 levels were significantly higher in the high-saturated fat and control samples compared to the normal-saturated fat. Similar results were seen at the midway point during the normal-saturated fat-supplemented preparations.
“These observations indicate that a vegan diet, at typical Western intake, may be associated with increased gut microbiota abundance and reduced intestinal inflammation accompanied by reduced oxidative stress,” said the principal investigator of the study, Dr Brooke Ratien down to UT Southwestern and PhD student in fields of physical medicine and sport, Dr Joelle Morris.
“These findings should stimulate a reconsideration of restrictive diets as an effective strategy for reducing chronic inflammation and disease burden.”
Key points from the ongoing study include:
“This is the first intervention study, to our knowledge, that was designed to gauge, in an unbiased way, the effects of a Western diet on gut microbiota alteration and intestinal immune function. It suggests that eating with a high-saturated-fat diet could alter both gut microbiomes and immune function,” said Aileen Snyder, B.V.Sc., senior author on the paper. “Although eating in the high-saturated fat is within guidelines for intake in the population, this suggested approach is not feasible in clinical settings, and we should be looking to diet more ad libitum rather than for a specific taste,” said Snyder, professor of epidemiology and public health at UT Southwestern.