Widespread meta-inflammation occurs throughout our lives. It appears in part to be our immune system’s reaction to many unhealthy aspects of daily living—from environmental factors, like traffic pollution and toxic chemicals, to our everyday lifestyle choices, such as cigarettes, sleep, chronic stress, and physical activity level. However, we may introduce into our body the primary driver of meta-inflammatory chronic disease multiple times a day—every time we eat.
Researchers developed the Dietary Inflammatory Index scoring system. The more pro-inflammatory foods we eat on a daily basis, the higher our score, and the more anti-inflammatory foods we eat, the lower our score.
Generally, components of animal products and processed foods, like saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, were found to be pro-inflammatory, while constituents of whole plant foods, such as fiber and phytonutrients, came up strongly anti-inflammatory.
Overall, eating a more inflammatory diet has been associated with 75 percent increased odds of having cancer and 67 percent increased risk of dying from it, the development of frailty and increased fall risk in the elderly, impaired memory and cognitive dysfunction, and worse mental health, including higher rates of depression, and anxiety, and lower sleep quality. Not surprisingly, those eating more anti-inflammatory diets appear to live longer lives with less functional disability.
The spice turmeric is the single most anti-inflammatory food, followed by ginger and garlic, and tea, green or black, is the most anti-inflammatory beverage. Fiber and flavones are the most anti-inflammatory food components. Dietary fiber, found in all whole plant foods, is most highly concentrated in whole grains and legumes. Flavones are plant compounds concentrated in fruits, herbs, and vegetables.
Given that saturated fat ranks as the single most pro-inflammatory food component and fiber as the single most anti-inflammatory food component, an anti-inflammatory diet would be one centered around whole plant foods.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
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