We won’t make a mistake if we blame the modern diet of microwave meals, takeaways and processed foods, for the sharp raise in the numbers of people suffering from autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, including eczema, alopecia and asthma.
A team of scientists from the University of Erlangen – Nuremberg, in Germany, and Yale University in the U.S, stated that junk food diets could be partly to blame.
They said that: ‘This study is the first to indicate that excess processed and refined salt could be one of the factors of the environment increasing the incidence of autoimmune diseases’.
Processed foods at grocery retailers as well as junk foods at fast food restaurants are the biggest sources of sodium intake from refined salts.
An international team of researchers was sent out by the Canadian Medical Association Journal to compare the salt content of 2,124 items from fast food establishments such as Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s. They found that the average salt content varied between companies and between the same products sold in different countries.
U.S. fast foods are often contain more than two times the amount of salt as those of other countries. While government-led public legislation efforts and health campaigns have reduced refined salt levels in many countries, the U.S. government has been reluctant to press the issue. That’s left fast – food companies free to use as much salt as they want, says Norm Campbell, M.D., a blood – pressure specialist at the University of Calgary and one of the study authors.
Many low – fat foods rely on large amounts of salt, for their flavor. One packet of KFC’s Marzetti Light Italian Dressing might only have 15 calories and 0.5 grams fat, but it also has about 1.5 the amount of sodium or 510mg – as much as one Original Recipe chicken drumstick. Feel like you’re having too much of a good thing? You probably are.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bread is the No. 1 source of refined salt consumption in the American diet. Just one Subway’s 6 – inch Roasted Garlic loaf – just the bread, no cheeses, no meat has 1,260 mg of sodium, almost like 14 strips of bacon.
The role of T helper cells in the body was recently studied by the team from Yale University. These activate and ‘help’ other cells to fight dangerous pathogens such as viruses or bacteria and battle infections.
Previous research suggests that a subset of these cells – known as Th17 cells – also play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases.
Scientists discovered in the latest study, that exposing these cells in a lab to a table salt solution causes them to act more ‘aggressively.’
They found that mice fed with a diet high in refined salts caused a dramatic increase in the number of Th17 cells in their nervous systems that promoted inflammation.
They were also more likely to develop a severe form of a disease connected with multiple sclerosis in humans.
A closer examination of these effects was then conducted at a molecular level.