Garden Variety Anti-Inflammation

Garden Variety Anti-Inflammation
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The variety of fruit and vegetable consumption may decrease disease risk, independent of quantity.

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One of the reasons some studies haven’t shown more impressive results tying disease reduction to the quantity of fruit and vegetable consumption may be because of the quality of fruit and vegetable consumption. People are more likely to eat bananas than blueberries; more likely to eat cucumbers instead of kale. Variety is also important, though. If in one of these studies, you ate a whole cantaloupe, you would be recorded getting eight servings of fruits or vegetables. One head of iceberg lettuce makes ten cups.

We know that whole foods are better than eating individual nutrients. For example, a carrot is better than a beta carotene pill because of what’s called nutrient synergy—where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as many of the nutrients interact, work together, complement one another. But what about synergy between foods?

Check this out. I’ve talked about the wonders of the spice turmeric, but the key component of turmeric has very poor bioavailability. Just a tiny bit gets into our bloodstream after eating a nice curry—unless we add some black pepper. The phytonutrient in black pepper boosts the level of the turmeric phytonutrient 2,000%! That’s why dietary diversity is so important.

Not only may the variety of fruit and vegetable consumption decrease disease risk, independent from quantity of consumption; sometimes variety may even be more important. Check this out. No difference in inflammation—C-reactive protein levels—between those eating six servings of vegetables a day, and those eating two servings. But those eating the more variety—even if they didn’t necessarily eat greater overall quantities—had significantly less inflammation.

This supports the American Heart Association’s latest dietary guidelines, which, for the first time, added a recommendation for also eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Rick Harris and Vladimir Morozov via Flickr, and Josiedraus via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the reasons some studies haven’t shown more impressive results tying disease reduction to the quantity of fruit and vegetable consumption may be because of the quality of fruit and vegetable consumption. People are more likely to eat bananas than blueberries; more likely to eat cucumbers instead of kale. Variety is also important, though. If in one of these studies, you ate a whole cantaloupe, you would be recorded getting eight servings of fruits or vegetables. One head of iceberg lettuce makes ten cups.

We know that whole foods are better than eating individual nutrients. For example, a carrot is better than a beta carotene pill because of what’s called nutrient synergy—where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as many of the nutrients interact, work together, complement one another. But what about synergy between foods?

Check this out. I’ve talked about the wonders of the spice turmeric, but the key component of turmeric has very poor bioavailability. Just a tiny bit gets into our bloodstream after eating a nice curry—unless we add some black pepper. The phytonutrient in black pepper boosts the level of the turmeric phytonutrient 2,000%! That’s why dietary diversity is so important.

Not only may the variety of fruit and vegetable consumption decrease disease risk, independent from quantity of consumption; sometimes variety may even be more important. Check this out. No difference in inflammation—C-reactive protein levels—between those eating six servings of vegetables a day, and those eating two servings. But those eating the more variety—even if they didn’t necessarily eat greater overall quantities—had significantly less inflammation.

This supports the American Heart Association’s latest dietary guidelines, which, for the first time, added a recommendation for also eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Rick Harris and Vladimir Morozov via Flickr, and Josiedraus via Wikimedia Commons.

Doctor's Note

Make sure to watch the prequel to this video: Apples and Oranges: Dietary Diversity. See EPIC Study for an example of one of the studies that didn’t show results as impressive as expected. For more on the anti-inflammatory nature of plant foods, see Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidants and Aspirin Levels in Plant Foods. For more on black pepper, see Is Black Pepper Bad For You?, and for more on turmeric, see Oxalates in Cinnamon. Also check out my other videos on spices.

And be sure to check out my associated blog posts:  Fighting Inflammation With Food SynergyThe Most Anti-Inflammatory MushroomHow to Enhance Mineral AbsorptionKiwi Fruit for Irritable Bowel SyndromeAntioxidants in a Pinch: Dried Herbs and SpicesLead Poisoning Risk From VenisonCinnamon for DiabetesAnti-Cancer Nutrient Synergy in Cranberries; and Mushrooms and Immunity.

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38 responses to “Garden Variety Anti-Inflammation

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  1. Make sure to watch the “prequel” to this video, yesterday’s video. See EPIC Study for an example of one of the studies that didn’t show results as impressive as expected. For more on the anti-inflammatory nature of plant foods, see Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidants and Aspirin Levels in Plant Foods. For more on black pepper, see Is Black Pepper Bad For You?, and for more on turmeric, see Oxalates in Cinnamon. There are 13 other videos on spices and hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects, so please check them out.




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    1. I have written a few books, but with such a dynamic field I felt that this sort of online platform would be the best to highlight the latest of the latest science.




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  2. Okay just saw the turmeric video. Too much turmeric is high in oxalate. I had kidney stones the past….. tossing out the turmeric supplement.




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    1. Don’t toss the turmeric!!! Dr. Greger just said turmeric’s bioavailability is increased when black pepper is added to it, which means I will be adding black pepper to the turmeric I fill my capsules with. Great info comes to those who wait!!!




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  3. Dr. Greger,

    Do you think the effects here could be explaind by the increased variety leading to higher likelihood of high anti-oxidant fruits and veg in ones diet?  (Instead of synergistic properties)
     
    My hunch would be that people eating a lower variety of fruits and vegetables are probably more likely to eat low-antioxidant fruits and veg. 

    Is it possible this study is just showing (again) that some veg are better than others?
     If I get in a vegetable rut of kale, red bell peppers, beets, carrots and arugula, would I really benefit from including lower antioxidant veg for variety?




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  4. been doing blackpepper- curcuma for years, which really helps prevent or at least greatly reduce the inflammation i can suffer from due to my back injury




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  5. I love the example of pepper raising the effectiveness of turmeric by 2000%. Where could I find more examples like this of food synergy? I googled it and didn’t find much. Thanks so much and I love love your site Dr Greger!




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  6. We just started taking Turmeric capsules, 500 mg. Instead of pepper, it has a patented ingredient called Meriva. It says it “…uses a specialized extract combined with phosphatidylcholine to help generate greater curcumin bioavailability than common turmeric extracts”. Have you heard of this? Is it true that it is better than pepper?




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  7. Recently, I had some produce lying around that needed to be used up. I concocted (developed, in the foodie world) an impromptu recipe incorporating turmeric, which I thought (and my BF agreed) was quite yummy. See what you think:

    Small bunch of sliced carrots
    1/2 diced red onion
    1 small red potato
    1 small fennel bulb, diced and sliced
    1/2 Pink Lady apple (might sound odd, but it really works in this recipe)
    ~1 tbls EVOO
    1 teaspoonish dried tarragon
    ~1 tbls turmeric
    pepper to taste
    4 cups veggie broth
    1/4 cup or so of frozen corn
    Lemon (optional)

    Saute first 5 ingredients in EVOO (or water saute if you prefer) until soft and take on color. Add spices and mix together to incorporate flavors. Add broth, and allow all flavors to simmer for a while (I think I let mine simmer about 30 minutes). Blend half the soup. Add corn and stir until thawed out. Serve and enjoy. I squeezed some lemon into my soup, b/c I thought it enhanced the soup’s flavor, but this is optional.




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  8. I listened to a number of your little videos here and came away with the information that collards and kale are preventative of glaucoma. Most of the others seemed to just make generalizations about diet being related to other eye diseases. There was nothing in the macular degeneration segment that I could take and use to improve this condition in myself. This is a serious disease, yet I have heard that it has been cured by dietary inputs. Surely you can find something more substantive than that “Macular degeneration is related to diet,” or something bland to that effect that you said!




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  9. Although you can survive on an all potato diet http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1252113/pdf/biochemj01140-0284.pdf it is important to eat a varied diet. If spinach is your go-to leafy green, substitute the recipe’s spinach with kale, collards, or swiss chard to increase the diversity of your diet. In fact, eating just one serving of collards or kale a month has been shown to lessen your risk of glaucoma by 69% http://nutritionfacts.org/video/prevent-glaucoma-and-see-27-miles-farther/. Rather than using your standard apple variety, select a type of apple new to you.

    Mind Your Peas and Curry

    – 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
    – 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
    – 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
    – ½ tsp ground ginger
    – 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
    – 1 tbsp cilantro
    – 2 tbsp curry powder
    – ¼ tsp black pepper
    – 3 cups water/homemade vegetable broth
    – 1 cup red lentils
    – 2 cups snap peas, de-string and chopped
    – 1 lb fresh organic* spinach, chopped
    – 1-2 organic* apples, diced

    Crush and mince garlic http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-are-the-anti-cancer-effects-of-garlic/ and set aside. Cook onions in a dry, uncovered pot over medium heat until soft and fragrant, 10-15 minutes. Stir in ginger, mustard seeds, cilantro, curry powder, and black pepper. Add water and lentils. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat until lentils tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in snap peas, spinach, and apple. Serve spooned over wild rice blend or brown basmati rice.

    *Apples rank 1st (most contaminated) for yet another year and spinach ranks #6 (up two from last year’s 8th) in the “dirty dozen: 12 foods to eat organic” so choose organic. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php

    Bookmark my new Plant-Based Emporium Facebook page for all my latest recipes.

    ~Complements of lovestobevegan




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  10. I am from Argentina. Reading you want to know if you can tell me about Lupus and food. The pain of inflammatory of the articulation are the worst in this case. Sorry my english please. Waiting for an answer.




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    1. Alicia: I’m sorry to hear you have such a painful disease.

      I did a quick search for “Lupus” on this site and nothing came up. However, I know that there are several videos on this site about inflammation. You may want to do several searches on NutritionFacts of various related topics and similar diseases. You may be able learn something about diet and inflammation that may be helpful to you even if the study wasn’t specifically about Lupus.

      I hope you find that helpful – at least for now until a video on your particular topic comes along. Also, I don’t know if you find hearing English easier or harder than reading it. I thought I would point out that there is a “Transcript” section below each video. (Just in case you hadn’t already seen it.)

      Good luck.




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    2. Lupus, I believe, is an autoimmune disease. Typing autoimmune in the search box brought up about 3 pages of videos on this site. A number of their descriptions mentioned inflammation, which is reduced by a vegan diet in general. Perhaps if you run through those videos, you will find something helpful. (Some choices may be blog articles; I didn’t notice.) You might also find more by searching on inflammation or anti-inflammatory.




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    3. Lupus, I believe, is an autoimmune disease. Typing autoimmune in the search box brought up about 3 pages of videos on this site. A number of their descriptions mentioned inflammation, which is reduced by a vegan diet in general. Perhaps if you run through those videos, you will find something helpful. (Some choices may be blog articles; I didn’t notice.) You might also find more by searching on inflammation or anti-inflammatory.




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  11. If I get some acid reflux and gassiness from a 505mg organic turmeric/black pepper capsule, does this mean that my particular system cannot handle it?




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  12. You once posted a study that showed the Gerson protocol did nothing. I know hundreds of folks now who have moved beyond cancer with it. Why you continue to post studies that we have no clue as to all the other influences etc is questionable. Consider mentioning that fact anytime you tout a study as fact since many of them are funded by bought and paid for universities etc. Many of us have zero faith in them, like politicians or oncologists. While I like to believe your intention is to educate and inform folks who are asleep some of the studies you have chosen to share smell badly.




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    1. Why don’t you post specifics instead of making vague allegations?
      If you going to make claims like this, you need to offer some proof. Otherwise, you risk sounding like yet another conspiracy theorist who justifies ignoring unwelcome evidence by postulating some imaginary conspiracy which has manufactured the particular evidence s/he doesn’t like.




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  13. Can variety be week to week or does it have to be meal to meal? I will buy different fruits and veggies every week ie one week I will buy kale, potatoes, rice, pinto beans and soybeans, and maybe apples, oranges and strawberries. The next week I will buy spinach, cauliflower, quinoa, black beans, chickpeas, and bananas, apples, blueberries and pineapple…I mostly go but what is cheapest or in season.




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