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Typical American diet can damage immune system

Inflammation, autoimmune problems and even cancer can result

By
1:00pm, May 18, 2015
doughnuts

FOOD FIGHT  The body's bacterial community helps train the immune system to recognize and fight off invaders. New evidence suggests that those helpful microbes don’t care for fatty, sugary or salty foods.

Blair River was described as “a big guy with a big heart.” The 575-pound former high school wrestler from Mesa, Ariz., became such a fixture at the Heart Attack Grill that he was recruited to be the restaurant’s official spokesperson. His satirical ads made him a minor celebrity in central Arizona.  He died in 2011 at age 29 — not because of his heart but from complications of influenza.

It was not entirely surprising: Many reports have observed that heavier patients appear more likely to come down with infections during a hospital stay, acquire weaker protection from vaccinations and, as with River, suffer more complications from the flu.

Weight alone may not be the entire explanation. A tantalizing line of evidence suggests that unhealthful foods — fatty, salty, sugary, processed foods — may disrupt the body’s defenses in a way that promotes inflammation, infection, autoimmune diseases and even illnesses like cancer.

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