Processed Foods May Cause Autoimmune Diseases – Researchers

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A group of German and Israeli scientists have revealed that processed food increases the risk of autoimmune-related diseases, echoing a warning by the World Health Organization that mass-produced foodstuffs can cause cancer if eaten in large quantities.

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Professor Aaron Lerner of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Carmel Medical Center and Doctor Torsten Matthias of the Aesku-Kipp Institute in Germany published their analysis recently in the online journal Autoimmunity Reviews.

The researchers claim that industrialized foodstuffs weaken the intestine's resistance to immunogenic antigens.

Numerous tests by the pair revealed that the effects of processed food on the intestines and with the resultant autoimmune disease can lead to the development of some 100 illnesses, including type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune hepatitis, Crohn's disease, scleroderma and myesthenia gravis.

"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. 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," Lerner said.

The research was carried out in a laboratory environment without human testing.

"Control and enforcement agencies such as the FDA stringently supervise the pharmaceutical industry, but the food additive market remains unsupervised enough," said Lerner.

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The Israeli Health Ministry's public health chief Itamar Grotto suggested that the scientists' recommendations for those with a family background of autoimmune diseases to stay away from processed foods is "a matter of jumping to conclusions."

According to the findings, at least seven common food additives can weaken the body's ability to protect itself:  glucose (sugars), sodium (salt), fat solvents (emulsifiers), organic acids, gluten, microbial transglutaminase (a special enzyme that serves as a food protein "glue") and nanometric particles.

"We hope this study and similar studies increase awareness about the dangers inherent in industrial food additives and raise awareness about the need for control over them," stated Lerner.

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