Endotoxins such as liposaccharides (LPS) are potent inflammatory antigens and are found in the human gut. (1,2) There is however another potent source of endotoxins coming directly from the food we eat.(1,3,4) Evidenced by significant increases in endotoxin concentrations in as little as 30 minutes after consuming a meal and is emerging as a prime suspect in postprandial inflammation. (1,4)
Capable of passing through the gut wall and entering systemic circulation, endotoxins cause substantial increases in chronic inflammatory markers such as NF-kB, IL-6 and TNF-a.(1While mild postprandial inflammation is common, it was shown that minimising dietary intake of endotoxins reduced inflammation and improved cardiometabolic markers.(3,5)
Which foods contain high levels of endotoxin?
According to Herieka et al (2016), there may be endotoxins in foods generally considered healthy and is highly dependent on food preparation. Pre-packaged and processed foods including minced meat and pre-cut vegetables which are seemingly ‘unspoiled’ and kept refrigerated frequently contain large amounts of endotoxin resulting in chronic inflammation and even endotoxemia.(3)
Some research also suggests certain fats unfavorably alter intestinal permeability, allowing endotoxins from a meal to pass into systemic circulation, however the exact mechanism is still unclear.(1,4,6)
Given that inflamm-ageing is associated with changes in digestion, metabolism, our microbiome and inflammatory status, we may need to amend the current anti-inflammatory diets to include ‘fresh is best’.
- Erridge, C., Attina, T., Spickett, C. M., & Webb, D. J. (2007). A high-fat meal induces low-grade endotoxemia: evidence of a novel mechanism of postprandial inflammation. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(5), 1286–1292. doi:10.1093/ajcn/86.5.1286
- Kim, K. A., Jeong, J. J., Yoo, S. Y., & Kim, D. H. (2016). Gut microbiota lipopolysaccharide accelerates inflamm-aging in mice. BMC microbiology, 16, 9. doi:10.1186/s12866-016-0625-7
- Herieka, M., Faraj, T. A., & Erridge, C. (2016). Reduced dietary intake of pro-inflammatory Toll-like receptor stimulants favourably modifies markers of cardiometabolic risk in healthy men. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 26(3), 194-200.
- Erridge, C. (2011). The capacity of foodstuffs to induce innate immune activation of human monocytes in vitro is dependent on food content of stimulants of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4. British journal of nutrition, 105(1), 15-23.
- Wassenaar, T. M., & Zimmermann, K. (2018). Lipopolysaccharides in Food, Food Supplements, and Probiotics: Should We be Worried?. European journal of microbiology & immunology, 8(3), 63–69. doi:10.1556/1886.2018.00017
- Boutagy, N. E., McMillan, R. P., Frisard, M. I., & Hulver, M. W. (2016). Metabolic endotoxemia with obesity: Is it real and is it relevant? Biochimie, 124, 11–20. doi:10.1016/j.biochi.2015.06.020