Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Inflammation is associated with several chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and depression. Cognitive decline and dementia are also related to chronic inflammation. Aging, in addition to certain lifestyle factors (such as cigarette smoke, inactivity, unhealthy diet, stress, poor sleep) and genetics contribute to inflammation in the body. There is growing evidence that an anti-inflammatory diet protects the brain from cognitive decline and an inflammatory diet increases the risk of dementia.

Recent research published in the journal Neurology looked at the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) of the diet of 1059 Greek adults, average age of 73. The results showed that the higher the score (pro-inflammatory) the higher the risk of dementia and the lower the score (anti-inflammatory) the lower the risk of dementia. The research found that those with the most inflammatory diet were three times more likely to develop dementia during the study than those who consumed the more anti-inflammatory diet.

What Foods Cause Inflammation?

A diet that is high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats can worsen inflammation. Limit your intake of pastries, cakes, refined high sugar or fat snack foods, processed meats, red meat, fried foods, and sugar sweetened beverages. Eating too much linoleic acid (omega 6) and not enough linolenic acid (omega 3) can also trigger inflammation in the body. Disruption of the health of the microbiome due to a low fibre diet can also contribute to inflammation.

What Foods are Anti-Inflammatory?

The anti-inflammatory diet is one rich in colourful fruits and vegetables such as beets, kale, broccoli, carrots, oranges, and blueberries. Whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds provide additional vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fibre that work together to reduce inflammation. In addition, healthy fats from olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, and canola oil as well as from fatty fish such as salmon, arctic char and trout also reduce inflammation.

Whether you follow the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet based on whole foods, or the Nordic or Okinawan Diet, they are all based on foods that help reduce inflammation in the body and may help protect the brain against cognitive decline and dementia.

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