It is no secret that junk food is bad for us, and it is the leading cause of obesity worldwide. However, scientists now believe they have the reason why. A small study suggests that processed foods that are high in “PAMPs” – pathogen-associated molecular patterns – may trigger inflammation inside the body.
PAMPs are molecules that are associated with infectious bacteria, so in the same way as an infection, they can trigger an immune response in the way of inflammation. And some experts suspect that prolonged inflammation can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
This new study attempted to assess the benefits of a high-PAMP diet compared to a low-PAMP diet on a number of measurable indicators associated with immune response. The study, involving 24 healthy men over 11 days, tentatively suggested that PAMPs did act to trigger some measurable indicators linked to an immune response – although the results weren’t consistent.
Due to the size and shortness of the study its immediate implications are unclear. There are also other limitations to consider. For example, the study didn’t measure new cases of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, or any disease. The assumption that the signs of raised inflammation seen in those given a high-PAMP diet are big enough to cause disease in the future is currently unproven.
Processed foods often have a high salt, sugar and fat content, so it is not a good idea to let them become a staple of your diet. Want to try a low-PAMP diet? According to the study in question, types of foods thought to be low in PAMPs include:
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh vegetables
- Un-minced meats.