Inflammation from digesting fatty meals varies among people

September 16, 2019 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

Inflammation from digesting fatty meals varies among people

People have very individualized inflammatory responses to eating a high-fat meal.

These were the somewhat unexpected results of a study conducted by researchers at the Agricultural Research Service and the University of California-Davis.

They looked at the inflammatory reactions of 20 volunteers at 0, 3 and 6 hours after eating a standardized meal containing 38 percent fat and their responses were completely unique.

The test meal was equivalent to someone having a small hamburger, small fries, and a small ice cream shake with fruit.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation, defined as a group of responses by the body telling white blood cells how much to react, is a normal reaction to eating a meal, especially a fatty one. Inflammatory responses are not the same as the blood sugar reactions that also follow eating.

Inflammation is the defense mechanism in the body as the body attempts self-protection. It also is part of the body's immune response.

Each volunteer in the study had both a unique amount of inflammatory response and a unique amount of time for when inflammation peaked, up to 6 hours after eating (8 or more hours is considered fasting by nutritionists). 

The researchers used a very sensitive test to look at whether any genes in the human genome were turned off or on in order to define a volunteer's reactions. Responses by more than 13,000 genes differed between subjects.

Eating a high fat meal like the test meal is okay one or two days a week even considering the effect on inflammation. But eating like this every day could do some damage to a person's body, said the researchers.

Inflammation is associated numerous conditions such as asthma, diabetes, peptic ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and many others.

One reason these results are so fascinating is the growing interest in personalized nutrition. 

We need to understand what the variability is between people before we can consider starting to set different requirements in diets, the lead researcher said

Source: The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, October 2019.

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