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Apr 26, 2021
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The largest review on the pro-inflammatory diet published

Diet and inflammation

Diet and eating habits can play an important role in both enhancing and suppressing chronic inflammation in the body. A pro-inflammatory diet (or dietary pattern) is a diet that is followed for a long time, which contributes to the intensification of inflammation processes in the body. The presence of chronic inflammation is indicated by an increased level of some inflammatory mediators in the blood (interleukins, C-reactive protein). In turn, an increase in inflammation in the body is associated with the risk of developing a number of diseases.

The Swedish health system lists the following foods as part of the pro-inflammatory diet:

  • Sugars, including fructose syrup, desserts, sugary drinks.
  • Refined grains (white bread, crackers, chips, refined breakfasts).
  • Fatty, red, and processed meats (including bacon, sausages, salami).
  • Fried, primarily fried potatoes.
  • Excess caffeine (equivalent to more than two cups of strong coffee).
  • Excess alcohol (more than 1-2 grams of pure alcohol per day).

The eating pattern rich in these foods is often referred to as the Western diet. At the same time, a diet that promotes inflammation is low in anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits and vegetables.

What diseases is the pro-inflammatory diet associated with?

In the new study, an international team of scientists conducted the largest review of the link between a pro-inflammatory diet and a variety of diseases. Their review included 11 meta-analyzes (they summarize data from individual studies). The studies reviewed covered more than 4.3 million people. Scientists have focused on the risk of 38 diseases.

There was strong evidence that pro-inflammatory eating patterns are associated with an increased risk of premature death and 26 diseases. Among them are myocardial infarction, depression, malignant tumors of the pancreas, respiratory system, oral cavity.

Studies have shown a link between pro-inflammatory diets and other pathologies. At the same time, the authors of the review report that many studies on this topic are of low quality, and therefore in this area, in their opinion, more scientific work is required.

Diet May Fight Inflammation

Review co-authors Meghan Hockey and Wolfgang Marx of Deakin University in Australia discuss how to make your diet anti-inflammatory in their article in The Conversation.

  • There should be a lot of plant-based foods on your plate: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. The vitamins and fiber they contain have an anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, they can contain various antioxidants.
  • Don’t forget about spices, herbs, and tea. They can be a good source of anti-inflammatory polyphenols.
  • Eat fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids act against inflammation.
  • Eat fewer foods that promote inflammation.


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