IN THE NEWS
Can food restriction affect immune health?
A new study says yes. Research reported in the journal Science investigated the relationship of eating fewer calories, immune response, and inflammation.
“The body makes both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds, both called prostaglandins, so the body can ramp up an inflammatory response if it needs to, and also dial it back in order to not “burn down the house. If you have too high of an inflammatory response, you have an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and so on.”
Mark Bittman, David L. Katz MD. How to Eat: All Your Food Questions Answered.
Some undifferentiated cells from the bone marrow, proceed to the thymus gland to become T cells (T stands for thymus). The thymus is large at birth and increases until puberty, when it begins to shrink. Mature T cells become immunocompetent (educated) meaning they colonize in the lymph nodes, spleen, and tonsils where potential interactions can occur with pathogens and other immune cells.
With aging, the thymus gland accumulates fat that interferes with thymus function. Fewer T cells are produced; thus immune function decreases.
Study participants restricted their caloric intake about 14% for two years. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) less thymus fat accumulated compared to a control group with no caloric restriction. Although no changes of gene expression were detected in the T cells DNA; however changes in the fat tissue showed that expression that encodes a protein involved with inflammation was inhibited by the calorie restriction.
Editor’s Note: “Moderately decreased food intake that does not cause malnutrition has beneficial effects on health span and lifespan in model organisms.” The authors stated.
Science. 2002 Feb 11;375(6581):671-677.