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Dietary Inflammatory Index and Food

In my last post I talked about the concept of food and inflammation

Some foods have been found to cause low levels of inflammation when eaten, which over time can lead to 'meta inflammation', whereas other foods reduce inflammation

A lot of the research around this has been done with the dietary inflammatory index (DII) - a validated tool measuring levels of different markers in the blood after foods are eaten, to provide a measure of how 'inflammatory' a food is. It uses micronutrients rather than whole foods (1)

The DII was developed by looking at over 6000 studies from around the world, and analysing all the data on inflammation and food

Its been used in over 200 studies and 12 metanalyses, looking at the role of dietary inflammation in conditions such as cancers, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, lung disease, mental health, arthritis, osteoporosis, and even child development

It's consistently shown that higher intake of 'inflammatory' foods are linked with higher rates of disease

The actual DII is in the last slide below - the more negative the score, the more anti-inflammatory a nutrient is, whereas more positive scores are more inflammatory

Not surprisingly, the most inflammatory nutrients were saturated fat and cholesterol , then carbohydrates, protein, total energy and trans fats B12/iron were mildly inflammatory - all nutrients found in a meat heavy diet ie the typical Western diet

The most anti-inflammatory compounds were all from plants, such as flavonoids and isoflavones, as well as most other vitamins and herbs/spices, green tea and caffeine

Following on from the DII another great study was done to 'rate' foods based on their concentration of these micronutrients, this is the first two slides below

Again whole plant foods were all anti-inflammatory (esp tomatoes and brightly coloured fruits/veges), whereas processed meats, refined carbs, processed oils, and added sugars were highly inflammatory

Unprocessed red meat was only midlly inflammatory, and chicken and fish were anti-inflammatory

Alcohol was dependent on amount - heavy intake was inflammatory (>2/day), lighter intake was not

Another great reason to eat plants!

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