Posted on Jan 30, 2017, 6 a.m.
Upon eating, the body needs to distribute the glucose and fight the bacteria injested, triggering an inflammatory response that activates the immune system and has a protective effect.
Food is more than just the need to acquire energy, it also involves the consumption of significant quantities of bacteria. The body is then faced with the job of distributing glucose to cells in the bloodstream and then confronting hostile bacteria. Researchers from the University Hospital Basel have discovered that in healthy individuals, the body triggers the immune system into action, and this results in a natural inflammatory response. However, for overweight people, this inflammation effect fails for some reason and increases an individual's risk of diabetes.
It is well documented that adult-onset diabetes (type 2 diabetes) leads to widespread inflammation. Doctors treat this form of diabetes with drugs that stem the over production of a chemical called Interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta). For diabetic patients, this compound is known to kill cells that produce the insulin as well as causing chronic inflammation. The report was published in the journal Nature Immunology.
Immune Cells Activated During Meal Time
The study has pointed out that inflammation plays an important role in the healing process as it does activate the immune system to respond to any threat. Short-term inflammation in healthy people also plays a key role in regulating sugar uptake which is a process of transporting glucose to the body's cells.
In the study, Professor Marc Donath and his team of researchers demonstrated that a number of immune cell types in the intestinal walls measurably increase during meal time. These scavenger cells are known to produce the chemical IL-1beta which varies in the concentration dependent on levels of glucose in the bloodstream. The immune cells also stimulate the production of insulin from the pancreas. The result of higher insulin increases production of IL-1beta compounds in the blood. In regulating the blood sugar levels, it appears both insulin and Interleukin-1beta are working together. Interleukin-1beta seems to ensure there is a steady supply of glucose which is vital to keep the immune system active.
Our Immune Systems Vulnerable When Lacking Nutrients
When we eat sufficient nutrients, foreign bacteria can be effectively combated by our immune systems. But if we are lacking in nutrients, our bodies must conserve the remaining calories for vital functions leaving the immune system vulnerable. This can explain why during times of famine, infectious diseases are commonplace. Researchers now believe that the mechanisms of the immune system and metabolism are so dependent on the levels of nutrients and bacterial we consume during our meals.
Erez Dror, Elise Dalmas, Daniel T Meier, Stephan Wueest, Julien Thévenet, Constanze Thienel, Katharina Timper, Thierry M Nordmann, Shuyang Traub, Friederike Schulze, Flurin Item, David Vallois, Francois Pattou, Julie Kerr-Conte, Vanessa Lavallard, Thierry Berney, Bernard Thorens, Daniel Konrad, Marianne Böni-Schnetzler & Marc Y Donath. Postprandial macrophage-derived IL-1β stimulates insulin and both synergistically promote glucose disposal and inflammation. Nature Immunology, January 2017 DOI: 10.1038/ni.3659