Does the anti-inflammatory diet exist? What the research says.
Does This Collagen Smoothie Really Help Prevent Inflammation? I was recently tagged in a Twitter thread in response to a Harvard Health article on anti-inflammatory foods. Here is the post, in case you were wondering. The thread was full of people telling Harvard that this infographic was extremely misleading and not based on evidence. Whaaa? […]

mediterranean diet

Does This Collagen Smoothie Really Help Prevent Inflammation?

I was recently tagged in a Twitter thread in response to a Harvard Health article on anti-inflammatory foods. Here is the post, in case you were wondering.

anti-inflammatory diet

The thread was full of people telling Harvard that this infographic was extremely misleading and not based on evidence.

Whaaa? However, are these foods anti-inflammatory?

As healthcare professionals, it is easy for us to say that certain foods are “anti-inflammatory” and to promote anti-inflammatory diets. But I think some of us (and me sometimes included) are going too far - just like Harvard did.

Sometimes we have to step back and examine the evidence because, in the words of the great Jason Koop"," The people you must be afraid of are the ones who have their opinions and who never change, even when science does.

I certainly never want to be that person, so in honor of Harvard's alleged anti-inflammatory misstep, I decided to take another look at the current evidence for anti-inflammatory foods and diets and explain to you. to all why not everything is cut and dried. .

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet is generally characterized as a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, legumes, and whole grains, while minimizing refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods. Most of you know it as the Mediterranean diet.

To muddy the waters a bit, there are also a bunch of compounds that are promoted as anti-inflammatories, such as turmeric, matcha, fish oil, resveratol, ginger, and many more.

Things really get complicated when we also consider the divergent opinions on inflammation and foods like dairy, seed oils, tomatoes and other nightshades, as well as grains and legumes that contain lectin.

It is enough to confuse everyone. But one thing I can tell you for sure: never listen to anyone who tells you that foods like tomatoes and whole grains cause inflammation in everyone. If this were true, countries like Italy would be plagued by the disease.

And while `` inflammation '' has become a huge selling point for the wellness industry, it's safe to say at this time that many `` anti-inflammatory '' claims made about of certain foods do not have strong evidence.

As Turmeric, which requires a large dose to obtain the apparent anti-inflammatory power of its active ingredient, curcumin. Yet we continue to see turmeric as the spice in all that is “anti-inflammatory”.

As resveratrol from grapes, which we thought was an incredible reason to drink wine, but which ended up being disappointing in research.

As collagen, which is the darling of the wellness culture, but only seems to work for inflammation of joint pain and with only one specific type of collagen.

Similar to the Harvard article, there are so many articles online that list anti-inflammatory foods you should eat, but are rarely supported by causal evidence from human studies. But people read this tip and believe it is based on solid research.

It's not. Because…..

Overall, nutrition research sucks.

We need to talk about the science of nutrition in general, because that is the crux of our Harvard problem. And that is, AF is inherently flawed. Yes, we all want to be as factual as possible in everything we do, but let's face it: unless you can keep an entire population of people locked in a lab for years, the best you will get with a lot of 'Nutritional assumptions - like how a certain diet or food affects our long-term health - is a connection. Or, as I like to say, an “educated guess”.

In other words, if a population has a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and overall has fewer cases of cancer than another population that consumes more ultra-processed foods, can we pin down the fewest cases of cancer? cancer on diet? Or is it a combination of diet and lifestyle? Maybe these people were also more active, or smoked less. Studies try to control for confounding factors like these, but it's really, really hard to do.

We know that when a certain result seems to pop up over and over again, it is a good sign. It doesn't equal causation, but sometimes a strong connection is all we can get. We are looking for models.

We like to blame a lot of things on chronic inflammation: cancer and other diseases, mainly. The Harvard chart gives us this ominous message: if you don't eat leafy greens you will get horrible disease !!

There is still this "link".

The questions we need to answer here are:

Can Food "Fight Inflammation"?

Can food prevent chronic inflammation, and if so, by how much?

Can foods cause chronic inflammation, and if so, by how much?

Here's the short answer: we don't know.

This is because there has never been a study that proves anything. At least, not on humans, and not without major confounding factors. Because so many other things in a person's life - like genetics, activity levels, sleep patterns, for example - can also affect the amount of inflammation in their body. And nutritional studies aren't equipped to tease these things to the point where we can focus on the diet, the foods, or the components of food - certainly not components of food - and be sure that they affect us in some way. one way or another. I could list all the studies that have been done recently on inflammation and food, but this post would be way too long. Needless to say, the evidence is not great.

In my previous post on inflammation, my recommendations reflect inconclusive science. Chronic inflammation certainly exists, but we're not 100% sure what role each food plays in it.

This 2018 study on the Mediterranean diet and its relationship to inflammation was unable to identify specific foods as "anti-inflammatory". He was also unable to draw any conclusions as to whether the diet itself, or the resulting weight loss, created the positive change in inflammatory markers.

This interesting study from 2020 in the Gut examined more than 600 elderly people who were put on a Mediterranean diet for a year. The diet was rich in fruits, vegetables, vegetable protein and fish (unsaturated fats) and low in fat, alcohol, sodium and added sugars.

At the end of the year, the study found that participants who followed the closest diet had the highest levels of `` good '' bacteria in their gut, as well as decreased inflammatory markers.

But studies like these leave me with more questions than answers.

To what extent were these changes due to anything other than diet?

What did people actually eat in a year? It is a long time for many people to follow a consistent diet.

What is an Optimal Mix of Gut Bacteria? We don't know, especially because people in different countries have different bacteria in their microbiomes.

So what and how should we eat?

Is it too much for Harvard, a trusted entity, to say that tomatoes and salmon are anti-inflammatory and can prevent disease?

I understand: people like simple ones. Telling them to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is simple.

But neglecting to mention that 1. research is not very conclusive on any of these exact foods and 2. that it is more of a diet and lifestyle than a component or something else, it does no one service. They could also have played with verbiage a bit. I will never write: “X and Y are anti-inflammatory”. I just don't feel comfortable making that kind of definitive proclamation on something do not specific. Instead, I generally use the words "may be" or "thought to be" to describe the evidence.

What most dietitians and scientists believe to be true is that the overall diet - not individual foods - plus good genetics and a good lifestyle can predict how much or how much inflammation you have in your body. body.

It's not that you shouldn't believe that certain foods can be beneficial. It is that you must avoid turning what you eat into unique foods or nutrients.

Is there an anti-inflammatory diet?

Probably, but we don't know exactly how much and on whom.

But you will never find me discouraging anyone from eating a varied diet full of plants and lean protein, healthy fats, and cakes to top it off. Yes, enjoying life is important too.

Drinking a turmeric smoothie or green juice a few times a week is unlikely to improve your health, especially if the rest of your diet is not good. You can't change your genetics, of course, but there are things you can control. IIf you are sedentary, stressed, or constantly lacking sleep, all of these things seem to have negative effects on our health.

It's the interplay of everything, not just what you eat. In Harvard's case, not just the tomatoes and the fish, but everything. So even though I would advise you to believe everything you read about anti-inflammatories, I think it's worth taking a holistic approach to health.

In other words?

Don't hold your breath while waiting for your turmeric latte to make you healthy.


tera set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a saine diet sooner than you think.

Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. This way it should be easier to make healthy choices. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. Gradually, your diet will become healthier and more delicious

Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad ( full of different color vegetables ) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.

Small Changes Matter. Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a saine diet. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts.

Drink Water. Consider water as one of the central components to your diet. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many people go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices.

People often think of healthy eating as an all or nothing proposition, but a key foundation for any healthy diet is moderation. Despite what certain fad diets would have you believe, we all need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body.

Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits. ” When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. If you are drawn towards sweet, salty, or unhealthy foods, start by reducing portion sizes and not eating them as often. Later you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.

Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently, particularly in brasseries. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entrée, split a dish with a friend, and don’t order supersized anything. At home, use smaller plates, think about serving sizes in realistic terms, and start small. Visual cues can help with portion sizes—your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards. A teaspoon of oil or salad is about the size of a matchbook and your slice of bread should be the size of a CD case.

Healthy eating is about more than the food on your plate—it is also about how you think about food. Healthy eating vêtements can be learned and it is important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids.

Eat with others whenever possible. Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits—particularly for children—and allows you to model healthy eating vêtements. Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to mindless overeating.

Chew slowly. Take time to chew your food and enjoy mealtimes, savoring every tige. We tend to rush though our meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors and feel the compositions of our food. Reconnect with the joy of eating.

Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.

Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day ( rather than the standard three grande meals ) keeps your energy up and your metabolism going.

Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a saine diet. They are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.

Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day and with every meal—the brighter the better. Colorful, deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—and different colors provide different benefits, so eat a variety. Aim for a peu of five portions each day.

Greens. Branch out beyond bright and dark green lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options—all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.

Sweet vegetables. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and squash—add saine sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for other sweets.

Fruit. Fruit is a tasty, satisfying way to fill up on fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries are cancer-fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangos offer vitamin C, and so on.

The antioxidants and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables help protect against certain types of cancer and other diseases. And while advertisements abound for supplements promising to deliver the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables in pill or powder form, research suggests that it’s just not the same.

A daily regimen of nutritional supplements is not going to have the same effet of eating right. That’s because the benefits of fruits and vegetables don’t come from a single vitamin or an isolated antioxidant.

The health benefits of fruits and vegetables come from numerous vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals working together synergistically. They can’t be broken down into the sum of their parts or replicated in pill form.

Choose saine carbohydrates and fiber sources, especially whole céréales, for long lasting energy. In addition to being delicious and satisfying, whole grains are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help to protect against coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. Studies have shown people who eat more whole grains tend to have a healthier heart.

Healthy carbs ( sometimes known as good carbs ) include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable.

Unhealthy carbs ( or bad carbs ) are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Unhealthy carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.

Include a variety of whole céréales in your healthy diet, including whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley. Experiment with different grains to find your favorites.

Make sure you’re really getting whole grains. Be aware that the words stone-ground, multi-grain, cent pour cent wheat, or bran can be deceptive. Look for the words “whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” at the beginning of the ingredient list. In the U. S., check for the Whole Grain Stamps that distinguish between partial whole grain and 100% whole grain.

Try mixing céréales as a first step to switching to whole grains. If whole céréales like brown rice and whole wheat pasta don’t sound good at first, start by mixing what you normally use with the whole grains. You can gradually increase the whole grain to 100%.

Avoid refined foods such as breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals that are not whole grain.

Good sources of healthy fat are needed to nourish your brain, heart, and cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, and help prevent dementia.

Monounsaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts ( like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans ), and seeds ( such as pumpkin, sesame ). Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold water fish oil supplements. Other sources of polyunsaturated fats are unheated sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed oils, and walnuts.

Protein gives us the energy to get up and go—and keep going. Protein in food is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy, and essential for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs. A lack of protein in our diet can slow growth, reduce muscle mass, lower immunity, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Protein is particularly important for children, whose bodies are growing and changing daily.

Try different variétés of protein. Whether or not you are a vegetarian, trying different protein sources—such as beans, nuts, seeds, peas, tofu, and soy products—will open up new options for saine mealtimes. Beans : Black beans, navy beans, garbanzos, and lentils are good options. Nuts : Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans are great choices. Soy products : Try tofu, soy milk, tempeh, and veggie burgers for a change.

Downsize your portions of protein. Many people in the West eat too much protein. Try to move away from protein being the center of your meal. Focus on equal servings of protein, whole céréales, and vegetables. Focus on quality sources of protein, like fresh fish, chicken or turkey, tofu, eggs, beans, or nuts. When you are having meat, chicken, or turkey, buy meat that is free of hormones and antibiotics.

Calcium is one of the key nutrients that your body needs in order to stay strong and healthy. It is an essential building block for lifelong bone health in both men and women, as well as many other important functions. You and your bones will benefit from eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, limiting foods that deplete your body’s calcium stores, and getting your daily dose of magnesium and vitamins D and K—nutrients that help calcium do its travail. Recommended calcium levels are 1000 mg per day, 1200 mg if you are over 50 years old. Take a vitamin D and calcium supplement if you don’t get enough of these nutrients from your diet.

Dairy : Dairy products are rich in calcium in a form that is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Sources include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Vegetables and greens : Many vegetables, especially leafy green ones, are rich sources of calcium. Try turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and crimini mushrooms. Beans : For another rich source of calcium, try black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, or baked beans.

If you succeed in planning your diet around fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole céréales, lean protein, and good fats, you may find yourself naturally cutting back on foods that can get in the way of your healthy diet—sugar and salt.

Sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems. Unfortunately, reducing the amount of candy, cakes, and desserts we eat is only part of the solution. Often you may not even be aware of the amount of sugar you’re consuming each day. Large amounts of added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, soy sauce, and ketchup. Here are some tips : Avoid sugary drinks. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, more than the daily recommended limit ! Try sparkling water with lemon or a splash of fruit juice. Eat naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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