Western diet: Immune activation, Metainflammation and Chronic Diseases (part 2)

The high prevalence of chronic conditions such as hyperlipidemia, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and obesity have a close link to our society’s poor lifestyle habits. Recently, most of our guidelines of care have shifted to a preventive perspective. Also, with these new treatment guidelines, dietary approaches to reverse disease include avoiding a Westernized Lifestyle. Besides this, the inclusion of polyphenolic compounds, following a Mediterranean-like diet, keeping track of inflammatory markers, and promoting exercise are the line of action to reduce disease risk.

Food elements that are part of the standard American diet (SAD), also commonly consumed in westernized countries, have a tight association with meat consumption.


The inclusion of meats, dairy, and their derivates are the precursors of multiple metabolites that have repercussions that can potentially lead to a higher risk of chronic diseases. Indeed, this is the case of Trimethylamine-N- oxide (TMA-O), a metabolic product of trimethylamine, a compound found in fish, eggs, and meat products.

The metabolism of nutritional compounds such as L-carnitine and phosphatidylcholine lead to the production of TMA-O. Nevertheless, this is a two-step process that involves the enzymatic mediated conversion of TMA to TMA-O via hepatic flavin monooxygenase (FMO). Furthermore, TMA is known for its characteristic smell of rotten fish when the proliferating postmortem bacteria produce this compound. However, One TMA enters our body; hepatic FMO converts it to TMA-O and eliminates its smell. Nonetheless, TMA-O is a potent inflammatory inductor, reflecting in the formation of macrophages foam cells and platelet hyperresponsiveness.

Hence, TMA-O acts like a trigger, upregulating the subsequent mechanisms.

  • Uncontrolled uptake of modified LDL-C upregulates the foam cell formation.
  • The presence of esterified cholesterol and impaired mechanisms of cholesterol release induce inflammation when combined with TMA-O.

However, what can we do to reduce our metainflammation?

We need to change our dietary pattern and modify it to a more traditional nutritional model.

Mediterranean diet:

Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and high amounts of fish and olive oil are the Mediterranean diet’s primary components.

The Mediterranean diet has shown that it can be a powerful therapeutic option to reduce cardiometabolic disease risk through multiple studies. Furthermore, some studies have added to the intervention with olive oil and nuts supplementation with positive outcomes. A 30% reduction of occurrence for cardiovascular events resulted from this intervention. Adding to the Mediterranean pattern benefits, inflammatory makers tend to diminish once this diet is part of the patient’s therapy.

Unsaturated Fatty Acids:
The classification of unsaturated fatty acids depends on the position of their unsaturated bond. The Mediterranean diet contains omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids that are considered essential fatty acids and have multiple health benefits. These fatty acids are essential because mammals cannot synthesize these components, and they need to take them from dietary sources.

The nutritional components found in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) have different protective actions such as:

  • EVOO contains anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects mediated by EFA.
  • Olive oil is rich in antioxidant polyphenols.
  • Oleic acid has a close association with blood pressure reduction.
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) can modulate the deleterious effects of SCFA by incorporating them into triacylglycerides.
  • Oleate, a component found in EVOO, can dampen the palmitate-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress and apoptosis.
  • When MUFAs replace SFA on mice fed with a high-fat, they reduced the NLRP3 inflammasome activation.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids can regulate gastrointestinal hormone secretion and improving insulin secretion. Omega-3 FA bind to the G-protein coupled receptor 120 (GPR120) and activates the GLP-1, inducing insulin release from the pancreas.
  • The GPR120-Omega-3 FA bond inhibits TLR2, TLR4, and tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNF) activation, regulating inflammatory responses.
  • The omega-3 immunomodulatory effects rely on its potential to modulate IgM production and elevate IL-10 concentrations.


Fiber is an essential component of traditional diets. It is a potent inducer of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that contribute to our microbiome diversity and colonization. Besides, different food like whole cereals, vegetables, fruits, and legumes contain fiber, adding diversity to our dietary patterns.

Nonetheless, SCFAs have an exciting role in our body’s immune response. In murine models, the interaction between our gut’s microbiota and SCFAs resulted in the inhibition of the differentiation of Th1 cells. Consequently, this action induced naive T cells’ differentiation into T regulatory cells and maintained intestinal B cell homeostasis.


Ketone- induced microbiota

The best way to make a change in your diet, and activate ketone-induced microbiota is through an in-depth evaluation of your nutritional status as well as constant metabolic monitoring. Nowadays this is possible with the help of a simple breath test that would allow us to analyze your ketone production. This is only possible with the Levl device, if you are interested, read more.

The ingestion of a SAD diet and Westernized lifestyle habits contribute to the high prevalence of chronic diseases. Dietary components such as sugar, refined flour, and high-fat content are the actual triggers that impact and promote deleterious symptoms that accompany chronic diseases. Nevertheless, the incorporation of a Mediterranean-like diet can reverse and diminish the risk of developing these conditions.





The dietary patterns we follow are a reflection of our choices and information. Therefore, prevention and improving our dietary and activity patterns go hand in hand. The Mediterranean diet’s nutritional components promote immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory responses that allow our body to control its responses to the environment. – Ana Paola Rodríguez Arciniga, MS


Christ, Anette et al. “Western Diet and the Immune System: An Inflammatory Connection.” Immunity vol. 51,5 (2019): 794-811. doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2019.09.020

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The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional, licensed physician, and not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. Also, we provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the musculoskeletal system’s injuries or disorders. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and issues that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us 915-850-0900. Read More
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, CTG*
email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com
phone: 915-850-0900
Licensed in Texas & New Mexico

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