March 16, 2020

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, says one of the most powerful tools for fighting inflammation does not come from the pharmacy, but from your groceries. "Many experimental studies have shown that the components of food or drink can have anti-inflammatory effects," he said in his article, November 7, 2018.

First, what is inflammation

Whether you injure yourself or catch a germ, the inflammatory response is our best defense. Dispatched to the site of the attack, the cells of the immune system trigger a cascade of reactions that allow it to be combated. Once the danger has been neutralized, this so-called "acute" inflammatory reaction goes away by itself. It is generally a beneficial and essential process for the body.

"This inflammation must be short-lived, on the other hand, because when it becomes chronic, the continuous presence of inflammatory molecules becomes extremely irritating for the affected tissues and can cause intense pain at the site of the inflammation, such as is the cases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, and other inflammatory diseases", explains Dr. Martin Juneau, Cardiologist and Director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute in his article, July 4, 2017.

“Chronic inflammation can also be much more insidious and develop without visible signs, but nevertheless create a climate that disrupts the functioning of cells present in the inflamed environment. Although less spectacular and with no apparent symptoms, this type of inflammation represents a medical problem of great importance, since it is now well documented that the development of most chronic diseases affecting our society (cardiovascular disease, type diabetes 2, several cancers) is favored by the presence of these chronic inflammatory conditions”, he continues.

Causes of chronic inflammation

Chronic inflammation or low noise inflammation is characterized by the constant circulation of pro-inflammatory and inflammatory molecules in the body, at levels not necessarily high; the organism remains in a sort of permanent biological emergency.

The causes? A large part of the causes are found in lifestyle (diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, lack of sleep, etc.), living conditions (presence of pollutants in the environment, increased stress, stress management, etc.) and other unknown factors.

Health risks of inflammatory foods

"Some of the foods that have been linked to an increased risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excessive inflammation," says Dr. Hu. “This is not surprising since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases."

"Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain, which is in itself a risk factor for inflammation," he adds. Yet in several studies, even after researchers took obesity into account, the link between food and inflammation remained, suggesting that weight gain is not the only factor."

Unsurprisingly, foods that can cause inflammation are normally tasty, but… unhealthy.

Examples of foods that can cause inflammation

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • Soft drinks and other sugary drinks
  • Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausages)
  • Dairy products and foods high in animal fat
  • Margarine, shortening, etc. 

If you're looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.

Examples of anti-inflammatory foods

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale, etc.
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, oranges, apples…

In fact, all that is good for a healthy prostate! Although no convincing studies have established a clear link between diet and prostate cancer directly, it is possible that an “anti-inflammatory” diet reduces the risk of developing one. It was the clinical studies on migrants that suggested that there may be an association between prostate cancer and diet.

In addition to reducing inflammation, a more natural and less processed diet can have significant effects on physical and emotional health. "Eating a healthy diet is beneficial not only in reducing the risk of chronic disease but also in improving mood and quality of life in general," says Dr. Hu.

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Pages of our site that might interest you
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Nutrition and Healthy Weight
Can we prevent cancer?

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Sources and References
Harvard Health Publishing - Foods that fight inflammation
ICM - Réduire l’inflammation chronique pour prévenir les maladies cardiovasculaires

Written by PROCURE. © All rights reserved - 2020

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