Eating junk food can trigger chronic pain — even in healthy and slim people, a study suggests (file image)
Share this

Chic-fil-Aches: Eating fast food can trigger pain — even if you’re thin and healthy, study suggests

  • Certain fats in fast food known to raise cholesterol and lead to inflammation 
  • Eating bad diet or being obese leads to chronic inflammation and pain sensitivity
  • But now researchers believe even a few off meals can cause similar damage

Eating junk food can trigger chronic pain — even in healthy and slim people, a study suggests.

Certain fats in fast food can cause cholesterol to build up in the arteries leading to inflammation, which leads to joint ache and makes people more sensitive to pain.

It is well documented that being obese or eating junk over a long time can lead to chronic pain, but now researchers say even just a few off meals may cause damage.

A study of mice found saturated fat in the blood binds to nerve cell receptors that leads to inflammation and mimics the symptoms of nerve damage.

The process was observed after just eight weeks on a high fat diet which did not have enough calories to make the rodents overweight. 

Dr Michael Burton, assistant professor of neuroscience at UT Dallas, said: ‘This study indicates you don’t need diabetes; you don’t need need a pathology or injury at all.

‘Eating a high-fat diet for a short period of time is enough — a diet similar to what almost all of us in the U.S. eat at some point.’

Previous studies have looked at the relationship of high fat diets with mice who also were obese or had diabetes.

It comes after a study found intermittent fasting – one of the most popular and promoted dieting techniques – may actually raise the risk of an early death.

Eating junk food can trigger chronic pain — even in healthy and slim people, a study suggests (file image)

Eating junk food can trigger chronic pain — even in healthy and slim people, a study suggests (file image) 

‘But this recent study took out further variables and was able to start identifying the direct connection of diet on chronic pain,’ Laura Simmons, a dietitian who was not involved in the study, told Medical News Today.

The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, compared the effects of different diets on two sets of mice over eight weeks. 

One received normal food, while the other was fed a high-fat diet that would not cause obesity. 

The researchers looked for saturated fats in their blood. They found mice on the high-fat diet had higher levels of palmitic acid.

They also observed the fat binding to the nerve receptor TLR4, causing it to release inflammatory markers.

The researchers believe drugs that target that receptor could be key to preventing inflammation and pain caused by bad diets. 

Dr Burton added: ‘Now that we see that it’s the sensory neurons that are affected, how is it happening? 

‘We discovered that if you take away the receptor that the palmitic acid binds to, you don’t see that sensitizing effect on those neurons. 

‘That suggests there’s a way to block it pharmacologically.’

Dr Burton wants doctors to probe whether a bad diet could be behind patient’s pain, even if they are not obese and seem otherwise healthy.


• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide 


Share this
You May Also Like

NHS sets aside £1.3BILLION to pay Covid compensation pay-outs

The NHS has ringfenced £1.3billion to cover Covid compensation pay-outs, it was…

Flu vaccine could slash your risk of stroke by 23%, suggests study

Why the vaccine is important The NHS explains: “Flu vaccination is important…

Dine-In Chains That Serve Surprisingly "Gourmet" Food, According To Chefs

Not every restaurant needs to win a James Beard Award in order…

Following the ‘green Mediterranean diet’ helps you lose FOUR TIMES as much visceral fat

People who follow the ‘green Mediterranean’ diet burn a dangerous type of…

Ten-month-old girl able to go home after five surgeries from swallowing children’s water beads

Ten-month-old girl who needed five surgeries and life support after swallowing children’s…

4 Biggest Complaints Costco Customers Are Voicing Right Now

If you’re looking for a one-stop shopping destination, it’s hard to find…

These Heart Symptoms, Including Swelling, Can Appear Early. Catch Them Fast to Live a Longer Life. 

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States and…

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announces new initiative that will involuntarily hospitalize more mentally ill people

Mayor Eric Adams makes mental health treatment announcement Mayor Eric Adams makes…

IMF chief calls for ‘recalibration’ of China ‘zero-COVID’ policy

The chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called for a “recalibration”…

17 Discontinued Fast-Food Desserts We Desperately Want Back

Fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King are always improving their menus,…

Error at UK Covid testing lab might have led to 23 deaths, say experts | Coronavirus

At least 23 deaths might have been caused by a blunder at…

China’s zero-Covid policy explained in 30 seconds | Coronavirus

Since the Covid pandemic began, China’s government has operated a zero-tolerance policy…