What you're about to read is either going to be terrible, terrible news, or just the thing you needed to hear. If you're a junk food lover, longing for your Friday night pizza delivery, you're not going to be happy about this recent research into how a high-fat diet affects our immune systems.
On the flip side, if you're looking for that perfect reason to kick the fast food feeds for good and actually stick to that New Years' resolution, then you may be pleased to know that scientists in Germany have discovered eating fast food is akin to giving your body a bacterial infection. Yes, really!
Publishing their findings in the journal Cell, researchers discovered that fast food can cause the immune system to act as if it's being attacked by a serious infection.
"Fast food thus causes the body to quickly recruit a huge and powerful army," the University of Bonn in Germany, where the study took place, explained.
Tests using mice and humans showed that diets high in fat, sugar and sodium makes immune cells more aggressive over time, which increases the risk of developing major health issues like diabetes and heart problems in the future.
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Even more concerning, the damage caused by junk food lasts long after you switch to a healthy diet – one high in fruits and veggies. This is because the body uses a sort of "memory" holding onto past experiences to better protect the body from future infections.
The researchers have stressed the importance of better education around fast food for children, so we can prevent (often addictive) unhealthy eating habits before they set in.
"The foundations of a healthy diet need to become a much more prominent part of education than they are at present," researcher Eicke Latz said in a statement.
"Only in this way can we immunize children at an early stage against the temptations of the food industry. Children have a choice of what they eat every day. We should enable them to make conscious decisions regarding their dietary habits."
If you're inspired to kick the fast food for good, take a look at the best and worst diets for 2018 so you can make sure you waste no time returning your body to full health.