A new study published in the October 17 issue of The Journal of Experimental Medicine says that fatty foods can fight inflammation in the gut. This feature may help the body prevent an autoimmune reaction where food is taken as a foreign particle.
Fat rich foods stimulate the intestine to trigger the release of an enzyme called a hormone called cholecystokinin, or CCK. This enzyme is responsible for digestion of the food and also satiation, a feeling of fullness that is a silent signal to stop eating. Luyer and colleagues studied the effect of fat-induced CCK on the gut and found that rats that were fed with a high-fatty diet were protected from lethal bacteria, while those on a low-fat diet did not have the same immunity. The mechanism of action was that CCK sent signals to the vagus nerve, which in turn triggered the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. This bonded itself to the proteins and switched the immune cells off. The study authors say that this pathway may explain why the body does not reject food as a foreign invader. They also feel that it might be useful to activate this pathway after major surgeries.