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Health: intensive chewing while eating stimulates our immune system


Chewing on food strengthens the mouth's immune system
Adequate chewing of our food is not only good for digestion. Researchers have now found that our mouth's immune system also benefits from chewing food. Chewing stimulates a certain type of immune cell. This way you can be better protected from certain diseases by simply chewing your meals.

The University of Manchester researchers found that chewing our food carefully resulted in health benefits. Chewing is good for digestion and additionally strengthens the immune system in our mouth. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Immunity".

Chewing on food stimulates so-called Th17 cells
Nutrients in foods can contribute to a healthy immune system in the mouth, this effect has long been known to medical professionals. However, the current study found that this food should be chewed well at best. This plays an important role because chewing on food stimulates certain types of immune cells, the authors say. The cells are known under the name Th17 cells

Increased chewing leads to more Th17 cells
In their experiment, the researchers changed the hardness of the food, which was then fed to test mice. This harder food causes an increased mastication (chewing act). When the chewing of the food increased, a stimulation was observed which increased the Th17 cells in the mice, the experts add.

Our immune system has to fight pathogens and tolerate healthy bacteria
The immune system performs a remarkable balancing act on some special parts of the body. These include, for example, the skin, mouth and intestines. This is where harmful pathogens are combated, but the presence of normal, friendly bacteria must still be tolerated, explains the study author Dr. Joanne Konkel from the University of Manchester.

Th17 cells require a special form of stimulation
Our research has now shown that the mouth has a special form of stimulation of so-called Th17 cells, says the doctor. In these, the stimulation of Th17 cells does not work by bacteria, but by our chewing. Therefore, mastication in our gums can induce a protective immune response, adds Dr. Konkel added.

Disadvantages due to too many Th17 cells
However, there are also disadvantages that can be triggered by the Th17 cells. Too many Th17 cells in the mouth can lead to periodontitis, experts warn. Periodontitis is an inflammation of the tooth structure. This disease threatens a largely irreversible destruction of connective tissue and bone. The important thing is: people with periodontitis are not only affected by the gums, but the entire body of those affected is sick, the experts explain.

New treatment methods for inflammatory diseases?
Inflammation in the mouth is associated with the development of a number of diseases throughout the body. Therefore, an increased understanding of the tissue-specific factors that can regulate immunity in the oral cavity is particularly important. Finally, new methods can be developed to treat several inflammatory diseases of the body, explains the author Dr. Konkel. (as)

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