Dangerous bacteria molecules discovered in processed foods
Everyone knows that processed foodsaren't exactly good for the human body, but a new study byresearchers at the University of Leicester has shed more light onexactly why that's the case. The scientists have detected dangerousmolecules called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs),which are linked to numerous conditions, including Type 2diabetes. Perhaps most interestingly, it is believed thatthe dangerous molecules could potentially be removed without impacting cost ortaste.
The researchers performed theiranalysis on various processed foods, including burgers,ready-chopped vegetables, sausages and ready meals. During testing,they found that a large percentage of the products contained abacteria that gives rise to the PAMPs.
Thought to grow during refrigeration orfood processing, PAMPs are very dangerous, causing damage tohealth and leading to potentially deadly conditions such ascardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
The PAMP molecules were found to bemost common in foods containing minced meat (such as burgers andsausages), ready meals (most notably bolognese and lasagna) andcertain chocolates and cheeses. By contrast, fresh meat, fruit orvegetables have undetectable PAMP levels, though they start to appearrapidly once the food is finely chopped and left for a period of time.
Having identified the PAMPs, the teamset to work quantifying exactly how dangerous the molecules might beto human health, testing a group of volunteers on a diet low in PAMPsfor a week, and observing the effect.
At the end of the test period,the researchers identified an 11 percent reduction in patient's whiteblood cell count, as well as a 18 percent lowering of harmfulcholesterol levels. According to the team, if those lowered levelswere maintained, it would amount to a 40 percent reduced risk ofdeveloping coronary artery disease.
There were also other benefits of thechange in diet, with participants experiencing a lowering of theirbody weight (an average of 0.6 kg or 1.3 lb) and a reduction inwaist circumference of 1.5 cm (0.6 in). As with the internal changesbrought on by the diet, those physical improvements also have somebig health implications, lowering the chance of developing Type 2diabetes by around 15 percent.
To confirm that the lackof PAMPs was responsible for the changes, the researcher then gavethe subjects PAMPs-heavy diets, at which point the positivedevelopments were quickly reversed.
Processed foods have been linked to anincrease risk of developing potentially life threatening conditionsfor years, but now that the potential mechanism by which that risk isbrought about have been identified, it's possible to look at waysof targeting the cause of the issue.
The researchers believe that foodmanufacturers have a big role to play in reducing the risk toconsumers, simply by analyzing different elements of the foodproduction process to isolate where and when the PAMP molecules arearising. This would allow for the machinery or rawmaterials responsible for introducing the contamination to be pinpointed, providing anopportunity to eradicate the issue.
"The present work suggests thatremoving these molecules from common foods could provide a healthbenefit to consumers and suggest a potential means of making some ofour favorite foods healthier without any appreciable change totaste, texture, cost or ingredients," said study lead Dr. Clett Erridge.
The findings of the work were publishedin the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.
Source: University of Leicester