Experts blame global spread of autoimmune disease on western diet
Scientists say a rise in the prevalence of autoimmune diseases around the world can be blamed on Western-style diets.
Autoimmune disease develops when the immune systems can no longer tell the difference between healthy cells and invading micro-organisms.
In a Sunday interview, James Lee and Carola Vinuesa of London’s Francis Crick Institute said they are working to pinpoint the precise causes of autoimmune disease.
"Numbers of autoimmune cases began to increase about 40 years ago in the west," Lee told the Guardian's Observer. "However, we are now seeing some emerge in countries that never had such diseases before."
While more people's immune systems can no longer determine the difference between healthy cells and invading microorganisms, Lee and Vinuesa have set up research groups.
Lee said the biggest recent increase in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been in East Asia and the Middle East, which had previously "hardly seen the disease."
The Cleveland Clinic reports that fast food diets can raise blood pressure, drive up cholesterol, lead to weight gain, drain energy and affect a person's mood.
In the U.S, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from 2013-2016, 36.6% of adults consumed fast food on a given day.
"Fast-food diets lack certain important ingredients, such as fiber, and evidence suggests this alteration affects a person’s microbiome – the collection of microorganisms that we have in our gut and which play a key role in controlling various bodily functions," Vinuesa told the outlet.
"These changes in our microbiomes are then triggering autoimmune diseases, of which more than 100 types have now been discovered," she added.
It can be grim for patients and a massive strain on health services. Hence, the urgent need to find new, effective treatments."
According to Cleveland Clinic, some autoimmune diseases include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Johns Hopkins University shows autoimmune disease affects 23.5 million Americans, nearly 80% of whom are women.