Posted by Bill Sandweg on 08 April 2019.
Sepsis is one of the leading killers in the United States. 1.7 million Americans get sepsis each year. Fully one-third of all patients who die in hospital have sepsis.
Sepsis is the body’s response to overwhelming infection. For most of us, our immune systems will enable us to fight off an infection. However, older people or people with damaged immune systems may not be able to fight off even minor infections. Major infections may overwhelm even a healthy immune system. When sepsis occurs, it can get out of hand and progress to what is called septic shock. Septic shock causes the blood pressure to drops and organs to fail. Death is often the consequence of septic shock.
New research suggests a close interrelationship between sepsis, the immune system and diet. When you think about it, it is really not very surprising. So much of what happens to us is related to our immune systems and so much of what happens to us is also related to our diets. The new study found a relationship between what is called the “Western diet,” which is diet high in saturated fats and sugars and low in fiber. Mice that ate the Western diet got more cases of sepsis and, when they did become septic, had poorer outcomes.
The Western diet mice also had higher overall rates of inflammation. Inflammation is now believed to be related to much of what ails us from arthritis, to cognitive impairment, to heart disease to intestinal diseases. It also leads to poor immune system responses. If we can reduce inflammation, we will surely be healthier. Eating a Mediterranean diet high in unsaturated fats and fiber is one way to reduce inflammation.
As we age, our immune systems naturally weaken. There is nothing we can do about it in the absence of a time machine. We don’t need to accelerate the process, however. We can slow the process by eating a sensible diet and by engaging in physical activity. It is never too late to start. So get off the couch, have an apple and go for a long walk.