Poor Eating Habits can Harm You in Irreversible Manner

Updated at: Nov 07, 2014
Poor Eating Habits can Harm You in Irreversible Manner

According to research, the damage caused by unhealthy eating habits, such as eating junk, sugary, salty, and fatty foods can last a lifetime – even after going on a diet.

Ariba Khaliq
LatestWritten by: Ariba KhaliqPublished at: Nov 06, 2014

Are you not eating on time? Are you skipping your meals or loading up on the wrong kind of foods? If you are, you need to listen up. Poor eating habits can not only affect you in short-term, but can also persist long after your diet has returned to normal.

Junk FoodResearch suggests that fatty foods and foods high in sugar and salt content change the way genes work and even if you swap them for fish, fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods, you cannot turn the clock back.

Scientists tested mice and found that the ones fed on junk food diet were more prone to hardening of arteries even after they were treated. It happens because the functions of genes, including the vital ones for the immune system, get altered in a process known as ‘epigenetics.’

Researcher Erik van Kampen, of Leiden University, Holland, said: ‘I hope this study demonstrates the importance of diet induced changes in the epigenome and encourages further research into the interaction between dietary patterns, DNA methylation and disease.’

To confirm this hypothesis, researchers used two groups of mice with altered genes. Their genes is what made them more susceptible to developing high blood cholesterol and atherosclerosis (a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries). These mice were either fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet or a normal diet. After a few weeks, the bone marrow of these mice was isolated and transplanted into mice with a similar genetic background that had their own bone marrow destroyed. The recipient mice were left on chow diet for several months, after which the development of atherosclerosis in the heart was measured.

The number and status of immune cells throughout the body and epigenetic markings on the DNA in the bone marrow also were examined. The researchers found that DNA methylation, an epigenetic signature, in the bone marrow was different in mice that received bone marrow from the western-type diet fed donors compared to the mice receiving bone marrow from chow-fed donors. Furthermore, these mice had large differences in their immune system and increased atherosclerosis.

According to John Wherry, one of the researchers of the study, “We’ve long known that lifestyle and nutrition could affect immune system function. The ability of nutritional history to have durable effects on immune cells demonstrated in this new report could have profound implications for treatment of diseases with immune underpinnings. The length of such effects will be critical to determine and it will be interesting to examine the effects of drugs that can modify epigenetics.”

Source: Daily Times
Image: Getty

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