Call It What You Want

January 30, 2018 in Foodland, Mediterranean by Joyce Bunderson

Last week I wrote about the Mediterranean style of eating not going out of style. It a fascinating thing to me that one of the latest styles of eating is anti-inflammatory diets. In my effort to try to know what the public is being told, I stumbled upon a considerable collection of information about inflammation and the anti-inflammatory diets.

Inflammation is essentially the body’s healing response to injury. The problem is when there is low-level inflammation from constant harmful lifestyle choices. These choices lead to damaged cells. Inflammation results. The fact is that there are chronic diseases that maybe linked to this low level of inflammation including: heart disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes and maybe even Alzheimer’s disease.

But this is where my fascination begins about whether “inflammation diets” are just another way of saying the same thing I spoke about in the last post. The theory about the link of food to inflammation is that plants are prolific chemical factories that produce compounds called phytochemicals; and this is true. The foods that are featured in the anti-inflammation diet are whole plant-based foods that are rich in healthy fats and phytochemicals. These phytochemicals are purported to reduce inflammation. They are often called antioxidants, and antioxidants reduce or prevent the damage to cells that high oxidant presence causes. The specific foods are whole grains, beans, nuts, fatty fish, herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables; and fiber is mentioned specifically in reducing inflammation. Of course, if you’re consuming whole grains, fruits and vegetables, you’re consuming quite a bit of fiber.

I’m not sure that they actually have sufficient research to say that they’ve proven that certain foods reliably cause inflammation; but they do name foods that seemingly cause it. The foods are sugar; saturated fats; trans fats; excess of omega-6 fatty acids; refined carbohydrates; alcohol; fried foods like French fries; processed foods; grain-fed meats; processed meats; and frequently dairy products are included. There are quite a few different lists that catalog what the inflammatory foods are; but essentially they are the same foods that would not be included frequently in the Mediterranean style of eating.

Unfortunately, it’s really hard to prove that eating an anti-inflammation diet prevents a certain disease. But I wonder, why not? There’s a huge body of research that finds that eating a Mediterranean diet or a DASH Mediterranean diet is about the healthiest way to eat. As I wrote last week, the Mediterranean style of eating is linked with a decrease in all the same diseases that the anti-inflammatory diet is ostensibly linked. I really can’t find a significant difference in the anti-inflammatory diet and the Mediterranean style of eating. Call it whatever you want to call it; but eat it and see if you don’t feel better. See if your joints don’t ache less; your blood sugar tests don’t improve and your lipid panels don’t get better.