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The Science Behind Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plans

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Acute inflammation is a vital part of the body's innate immune response. When you catch a cold or pull a muscle, your immune system kicks into gear and pro-inflammatory hormones in your body tell your white blood cells to migrate to the repair site to combat the infection and repair the damage. The familiar signs of acute inflammation – fever, pain, redness and swelling – are the first signals that your immune system is being called into action and pro-inflammatory hormones and white blood cells are working their magic. Once the threat has been neutralized, anti-inflammatory compounds move in to stop the inflammatory response.

But sometimes the body's inflammatory response won't shut down, and acute inflammation can progress into chronic, low-level inflammation. Also known as as systemic inflammation, this long-term inflammation has been linked to a whole host of ailments, including:

  • Allergies
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Asthma
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • Eczema
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Some cancers

Chronic or systemic inflammation has been associated with a number of lifestyle habits, which has boosted the popularity of websites and books that provide anti-inflammatory lifestyle tips. Many of these tips revolve around nutrition as dietary factors are believed to be play a key role in how well the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mechanisms of your body work. Some experts have even devised comprehensive anti-inflammatory diet plans. Below, we will take a look at the science behind these diet plans.

Here's How an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Works

An anti-inflammatory diet is a way of selecting and preparing foods based on scientific knowledge about the anti-inflammatory properties of various foods, nutrients, phytochemicals and dietary habits. While there are some small differences between different plans, in general, anti-inflammatory diet plans recommend that you:

  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants. A high intake of fruit and vegetables has been inversely associated with plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), a key marker of inflammation (1).
  • Reduce the amount of trans fats in your diet. A high intake of trans fats has been associated with high plasma concentrations of biomarkers of systemic inflammation (2). Also foods that contain high amounts of saturated fat are usually restricted on anti-inflammatory diets.
  • Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from foods (or supplements). These essential fatty acids have been shown to disrupt inflammation cell signaling pathways by binding to the GPR120 receptor (3).
  • Minimize your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, which have high glycemic loads (GL), and focus on low-GI foods instead. Research suggests that low-GI diets are inversely associated with inflammation (4).
  • Avoid refined and processed foods. These foods often have high glycemic loads, plus they often contain food additives, some of which have been shown to promote inflammation in animal studies (5, 6).

In addition, some anti-inflammatory diets, such as the eating plan outlined in the anti-inflammatory guide and cookbook Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health, emphasize the importance of keeping your calories in check and your weight in a healthy range. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, enlarged fat cells in obese individuals promote inflammation whole small fat cells in lean individuals promote metabolic homeostasis (7).

Where to Learn More About Anti-Inflammatory Diets

Whether you are looking to learn more about the science behind anti-inflammatory diets or want to start incorporating more inflammation-fighting foods into your diet, consider getting or borrowing a good anti-inflammatory diet guide and cookbook such as Dr. Jessica Black's More Anti-Inflammation Diet Tips and Recipes. In this much-anticipated follow-up to her best-selling book, The Anti-Inflammation Diet & Recipe Book, Dr. Black provides tons of useful tips to help you kick start an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, plus 150 mouthwatering recipes, each of which is accompanied by a full nutritional analysis. To learn more, head to Amazon.

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