A recent study has reported that our habit of consuming three meals everyday keeps us warm and thus protects us from any kind of fungal attack.
The research from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has revealed that just because humans and other mammals eat a lot, they are protected from the majority of fungal pathogens.
AdvertisementThe research, showed that the elevated body temperature of mammals - the familiar 98.6o F or 37o C in people - is too high for the vast majority of potential fungal invaders to survive.
"Fungal strains undergo a major loss of ability to grow as we move to mammalian temperatures," said Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair and professor of microbiology and immunology at Einstein.
"Our study makes the argument that our warm temperatures may have evolved to protect us against fungal diseases. And being warm-blooded and therefore largely resistant to fungal infections may help explain the dominance of mammals after the age of dinosaurs," he added.
Fungal infections in people are often the result of an impaired immune function.
In the study, the researchers investigated how 4,082 different fungal strains from the Utrecht collection grew in temperatures ranging from chilly - 4o C or 39o F - to desert hot - 45o C or 113o F.
They found that nearly all of them grew well in temperatures up to 30o C.
Beyond that, though, the number of successful species declined by 6 percent for every one degree centigrade increase.
Most could not grow at mammalian temperatures. Those that did well in hotter conditions were often from warm-blooded sources.
Casadevall noted that the current study covered thousands of fungal strains and made use of a computerized database of the Utrecht collection.
"This was possible only because we could use bioinformatic tools to analyse the records in the culture collection. There is no way to do a study like this without such technology given the enormous numbers of samples and the labour involved," he said.
The results of the study could help explain why mammals maintain a seemingly energy-wasteful lifestyle requiring a great deal of food.
On the other hand, reptiles need only eat once a day or even less often.
"The payoff, however, may be that mammals are much more resistant to soil and plant-borne fungal pathogens than are reptiles and other cold-blooded vertebrates," said Casadevall.
The study has been published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
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