Chic-fil-Aches: Eating fast food can trigger pain – even if you’re slim and healthy, study finds
- Some fats found in fast food are known to raise cholesterol and cause inflammation
- Eating a poor diet or being obese leads to chronic inflammation and pain sensitivity
- But now researchers think even a few meals without a meal can cause similar damage.
Eating junk food can trigger pain or make people more sensitive to pain, even if they are healthy and thin, a study has found.
Certain fats in fast food can cause cholesterol to build up in the arteries, leading to inflammation, leading to joint pain and making people more susceptible to pain.
It’s well documented that being obese or eating junk food for a long time can lead to chronic pain, but now researchers say even a few meals without meals can cause harm.
A study in mice found that saturated fat in the blood binds to nerve cell receptors, which leads to inflammation and mimics symptoms of nerve damage.
The process was observed after only eight weeks on a high-fat diet that did not contain enough calories to make the rodents fat.
Dr. Michael Burton, assistant professor of neuroscience at UT Dallas, said: “This study indicates that you don’t need diabetes; you don’t need any pathology or injury at all.
“A high-fat diet for a short time is enough, a diet similar to what almost all of us eat in the United States at some point.”
Previous studies have looked at the relationship between high-fat diets and mice that are also obese or have diabetes.
It comes after a study found that intermittent fasting – one of the most popular and promoted dieting techniques – may actually increase the risk of premature death.
Eating junk food can trigger chronic pain – even in healthy, thin people, study finds (file image)
“But this recent study took other variables into account and was able to begin to identify the direct link between diet and chronic pain,” said Laura Simmons, a dietician who was not involved in the study. Medical News Today.
The research, published in the journal Scientific reportscompared the effects of different diets on two groups of mice for eight weeks.
One received a normal diet, while the other received a high-fat diet that would not cause obesity.
The researchers looked for saturated fats in their blood. They found that mice on a high-fat diet had higher levels of palmitic acid.
They also observed fat binding to the TLR4 nerve receptor, causing it to release inflammatory markers.
Researchers believe drugs that target this receptor could be key to preventing inflammation and pain caused by poor diet.
Dr Burton added: “Now that we see it’s the sensory neurons that are affected, how does that happen?”
“We found that if you take away the receptor that palmitic acid binds to, you don’t see this sensitizing effect on those neurons.
“This suggests that there is a way to block it pharmacologically.”
Dr Burton wants doctors to consider whether a poor diet could be to blame for the patient’s pain, even if he is not obese and appears otherwise healthy.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET RESULT IN?
• Eat at least 5 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Meals based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starches, ideally whole grains
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following foods: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole-grain crackers, 2 thick slices of whole-grain bread, and a large baked potato with the skin on.
• Have dairy products or dairy alternatives (like soy beverages) choosing low fat and low sugar options
• Eat beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish per week, one of which should be fatty)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small amounts
• Drink 6 to 8 cups/glasses of water per day
• Adults should consume less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide