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Rise in MS Linked To Processed Foods

January 11, 2016

A new study found that additives commonly used in processed foods can damage the junctions that protect the intestines, which is a big part of the balance that works to prevent autoimmune diseases like MS. The study was published in the journal Autoimmunity Reviews.

The study suggests that the incidence of autoimmune disease is increasing, because of the development of processed food and food additives industries, especially in the West.

“In recent decades there has been a decrease in incidence of infectious diseases, but at the same time there has been an increase in the incidence of allergic diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases,” Professor Aaron Lerner, from the Technion Faculty of Medicine and Carmel Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, and a study lead author, said in a press release. “Since the weight of genetic changes is insignificant in such a short period, the scientific community is searching for the causes at the environmental level.”

The researchers focused on the correlation between autoimmunity and industrial food additives, used in foods to improve taste, smell, texture, etc. They found that the additives glucose (sugars), sodium (salt), fat solvents (emulsifiers), organic acids, gluten, microbial enzyme transglutaminase, and nanometric particles all weakened tight junctions, leading to a more permeable intestinal mucosa, a key factor in autoimmunity.

Tight junctions play a crucial role in the equilibrium and balance of the immune response and tight junction dysfunction leads to a barrier more permeable to bacteria, toxins, allergens, and carcinogens.

With all of the information gathered in the study, the researchers could not stress enough that patients with autoimmune diseases such as MS should rarely, if ever, eat processed foods.