A new study by researchers at Georgia State University has linked the low-fibre, high-fat Western-style diet to an increased risk of diabetes.
Mice were used to investigate the impact of changing from grain-based to high-processed diets, with observed results including a rapid reduction in beneficial gut bacteria.
The results showed incidences of foodborne infectious diseases such as E coli could initially reduce, but the incidence of chronic infection and inflammation diseases such as diabetes may increase.
Researchers concluded a low-fibre diet, typical of the West's high-fat, high-sugar, pre-packaged food causes intrusion of microbiota into the intestine and reduces the numbers of gut bacteria.
That potentially impacts the readiness of the immune system and the body's ability to defend itself against some pathogens.
"Mice consuming the Western-style diet frequently developed persistent infection that was associated with low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance," said Dr Andrew Gewirtz, senior co-author of the study and professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences.
"These studies demonstrate potential of altering microbiota and their metabolites by diet to impact the course and consequence of infection following exposure to a gut pathogen."
Dr Jun Zou, senior co-author of the study and assistant professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State, speculated that using nutrients to promote beneficial bacteria that out-compete pathogens may therefore be a good way of promoting general health.