There has been a blizzard of information about anti-inflammatory diets within the past several years, beginning with the anti-aging studies of Yale University professor Dr. Nicholas Perricone. He introduced the anti-inflammation concept into popular vocabulary in 2002 with his book, The Perricone Prescription, as baby boomers grew more concerned with the external signs of aging.
Rather than focusing on laugh lines and wrinkles, his studies suggested that how we age is determined by how well our bodies work, and how well they function is determined by what we ingest. Since Perricone, there have been numerous diet plans and lifestyle books that define inflammation, its effects on the body and how to counteract these effects. There is science to back up their claims that the treatment of inflammation through diet will, in fact, do a body good.
Inflammation in its obvious form is a sign of infection. Body tissues become red, swollen, may give off heat and cause us varying degrees of physical discomfort. There is another type of inflammation, however, that often goes unnoticed: silent inflammation. This is when the body's immune system works overtime to ward off oxidants, toxins, environmental pollutants, and the usual viral and bacterial suspects.
This sort of inflammation happens under our radar but often results in chronic diseases such as autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and cancer. Dr. James O'Keefe from the University of Kansas-Missouri confirms that there is a "linear relationship" between diet and inflammatory response. "The highly processed, calorie-dense, nutrient-depleted diet favored in the current American culture...leads to increased oxidant stress and inflammation," O'Keefe says.
The Benefits of an Anti-inflammation Diet
One of the many benefits of an anti-inflammation diet is a reduction of diabetes and heart disease. Both of these diseases have been linked to the constant spikes in blood sugar that are the result of the highly processed foods many of us eat.
White flour, corn syrups, sugar and hydrogenated oils all contribute to fluctuations in blood sugar and blood fats that cause inflammation. Anti-inflammation diets promote fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, all of which promote even blood sugar levels.
Weight loss has been connected to anti-inflammation diets. The fruits, vegetables and nuts present in these diets provide more nutrients and fiber than processed foods and lean proteins make us feel full after a meal, all of which contribute to eating less.
The high fiber content and reduced white blood cell activity connected to anti-inflammation diets have been linked to reduced risk of some kinds of cancer, including colon, stomach, esophagus, liver, breast and prostate cancers.
The Omega-3 content and the increased intake of easily absorbed vitamins, minerals and enzymes of an anti-inflammation diet has been linked to successful management of depression and autoimmune disorders. There is even evidence that anti-inflammatory diets can reduce the symptoms of COPD. The inclusion of treats like red wine and chocolate, both of which have high antioxidant levels and an anti-aging substance called resveratrol, makes an anti-inflammation diet that much more appealing.
The anti-aging benefits that come from an anti-inflammation diet are attributed to its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E and the aforementioned resveratrol are linked to the reversal or deterrence of cell damage.
This not only assists us in looking younger, but because our bodies are working properly, we also may feel younger. And with a reduced risk of the various diseases that are the result of poor diet and inflammation, we may live longer and more vibrantly.