By Emma Gerrard,
When a foreign substance enters your body, your immune system is activated and triggers a process called inflammation, which attempts to protect the area from further harm.1 Short term inflammation is considered to be a healthy and necessary component of the healing process. However, chronic inflammation, can be harmful for your health.1
According to Harvard Medical School, it is not only medications, but also certain types of foods, that can help to quell inflammation.1 Multiple studies have shown that certain foods and beverages contain anti-inflammatory properties. Foods containing anti-inflammatory properties include green leafy vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, olive oil, and fruits.1 Not surprisingly, the foods that are known to combat inflammation are also foods that are generally considered to be healthy. The Mediterranean dietlosely follows the tenets of an anti-inflammatory nutritional regimen (for more information, please see our previous blog post on this topic). On the other hand, foods that have been found to worsen inflammation include, refined carbs, fried foods, sugar sweetened beverages, red meat, and unhealthy fats.1 It is thought that inflammation can be decreased not only be eating a healthy diet, but also by adopting a healthier lifestyle in general. This may include eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, eliminating sugary beverages, increasing water consumption, exercising regularly, and sleeping an adequate amount.
It has been found that following an anti-inflammatory diet can also help reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, as well as help manage rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease.1 In a recent study, researchers investigated the association between dietary inflammatory index (DII) and cancer incidence among 1,082,092 participants.2 The results showed that an elevated DII independently indicated a higher risk of developing nearly all forms of cancer, with lung cancer being the only exception.2 Another study, focusing on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, found that those who followed an anti-inflammatory diet experienced a significant reduction in the number of tender and swollen joints.3
In conclusion, research has shown that following an anti-inflammatory dietary regimen, in addition to adopting a generally healthy lifestyle, can help to combat chronic inflammation. In turn, this reduced inflammation can decrease an individual’s risk of being diagnosed with a number of medical concerns.
- Harvard Health Publications. 2010. Foods that fight inflammation. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
- Li, D. 2018. Dose response relation between dietary inflammatory index and human cancer risk: evidence from 44 epidemiologic studies involving 1,082,092 participants. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 107(3), 371-388. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29566194
- Adam, O. 2003. Anti-inflammatory effects of a low arachidonic acid diet and fish oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology International. 23(1), 27-36. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00296-002-0234-7