High Sugar Diet leads to Microbiome and Immune Disruption, Exposes to Metabolic Disorders


According to a recent study, 70% of our immune system resides in the gut system. These immune cells then work with the microbiome of the gut. The gut microbiome consists of all the fungi and bacteria that are living in the system. This establishes a direct link that exists between gut health and the immune strength of an individual. 

According to a recent study in mice, dietary sugars have a deleterious impact on the health and well-being of a person by targeting the immune systems. 

Sugar consumption is often linked to an increased risk of diabetes and other diseases. According to the health experts at Mukhtar Munir Hospital of Lahore, people need to look out for their overconsumption of sugar as it promises increased chances of CVD, and leads to a number of other health complications. 

Paul Gill who is a research fellow at the Department of Microbial Disease Eastman Dental Institute, University College London, was not a part of the study yet he commented on the findings in the following manner. 

“[t]he study authors have outlined a new mechanism by which high doses of sugar impact the gut microbiota and immune system. “A high-sugar diet promoted the growth of a bacterial species that outcompetes commensal ‘good’ bacteria. A consequence of this gut dysbiosis,” explained Gill, “is a reduction in a specific type of immune cell called a T-helper 17 cell [TH17], which was found to protect mice from high fat diet-induced obesity.”

“This protective effect of Th17 cells is another novel finding. The authors find found that Th17 cells reduce the absorption of fats by the gut lining, which reduces the severity of metabolic disease and weight gain.”

Behind the Scenes Science of Sugar VS Filamentous Bacteria

Too much consumption of sugars often leads to the production of segmented filamentous bacteria. This is a common bacteria that is present in

  • Rodents
  • Chickens
  • Fish

A reduction in the filamentous bacteria often promotes the lack of production of TH17. According to Gill, this is how sugar acts with the microbiome.

“High doses of sugar cause damage to the gut lining, triggering inflammation that inhibits the growth of filamentous bacteria, particularly as these bacteria tend to grow in close proximity to the gut lining. In contrast, F. rodentium seems to be unaffected and grows in its place.”

David Heber is a quality internist, endocrinologist and nutritionist. He is also associated with Nutritional Medicine and Obesity as a director. He said that when our body is metabolizing sugar, some bacteria have more advantages over it as compared to others.

“Prebiotics such as fibres, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals can all affect the bacteria in the gut in this way, so sugar is not unique,” he said.

The Experimental Design

In this study group, the experiment was conducted on mice who were 5 weeks old and male. But before the trial ran the tests were conducted and some mice were injected with SFP colonies. The researchers then fed mice a high fat and high sugar diet. This diet is a mimic of the diet that is normally consumed by western people.

Till the 4th week of the study, the mice were able to gain significant proportions of weight. Then after that, they were also able to develop glucose intolerance and insulin resistance.

When they studied the population group they were able to deduce that the SFB in mice was replaced by F. rodentium and there was also a significant reduction in the TH17 cells.

Simultaneously mice who were not fed with SFB were presented with the same diet. They gained weight and also developed diabetes. This solidified the importance of SFB and the necessity of TH17 cells.

The study is a huge breakthrough in our understanding of dietary sugars and their deleterious impacts on cells their functions and the microbiome.

He said that “The big picture is to connect immune function to the microbiome as 70% of the body’s immune cells are located near the gut and interact with the microbiota. This study demonstrates in detail one mechanism by which an alteration in diet can affect the microbiome which then affects immune cells mediating the gut issues involved in metabolic syndrome.”

Application of this Research on Humans

Dr Heber said that there ate some observed effects of Th17 that might also affect humans. Furthermore weight gain and metabolic disorders are quickly becoming global problems that need to be catered to.

“However, there may be other mechanisms at work as well and the role of physical activity and exercise has not been considered.

“The authors presented a small amount of human data in this paper to hint that the effect may be relevant to humans. However, lots of further studies are needed to prove this. There are limitations to mouse models, particularly because there are big differences in the gut microbiota and immune system of mice and humans.”

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