The links between chronic inflammation and increased risk of diseases like cancer are well documented – as one study puts it,
“A substantial body of evidence supports the conclusion that chronic inflammation can predispose an individual to cancer, as demonstrated by the association between chronic inflammatory bowel diseases and the increased risk of colon carcinoma.”(1)
Chronic inflammation is caused by many things – bacterial or viral infections, chemical irritants, obesity, and nondigestible particles, to name a few sources. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your diet is full of foods that can help combat inflammation on a cellular level.
Creating A Tool For Consumers
Recently, researchers at the Arnold School of Public Health and the University of South Carolina developed a tool that ranks a person’s diet according to an index of foods, determining whether the diet in question has anti-inflammatory or inflammatory effects. The dietary inflammatory index ranks nearly 50 different foods, nutrients and phytochemicals for their inflammatory or anti-inflammatory properties.
The index was recently used in a study examining the correlation between chronic inflammation and colorectal cancer risk, which was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology And Biomarkers Prevention(2). Currently, it is being translated into a tool for healthcare providers, with the ultimate goal of making the index accessible for consumers as well(3).
Known Anti-Inflammatory Foods
While the index itself may not be ready for consumer use just yet, there’s no need to wait until it is to start eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Thanks to copious research done by doctors and scientists all over the world, we know of many foods that have been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties. Here’s a brief list of foods you might include in your own anti-inflammatory diet:
2. Wild fish(5)
4. Dark leafy greens(7)
5. Extra virgin olive oil(8)
7. Sweet potatoes(10)
8. Certain types of tea(11)
Building Your Anti-Inflammatory Diet
An anti-inflammatory diet is not a diet in the typical sense – while you may shed a few pounds just from sticking to healthy foods and avoiding inflammatory foods like simple carbohydrates, it’s not intended as a weight-loss program specifically. It is intended to reduce chronic inflammation in the long-term, meaning it requires commitment and an understanding of how the foods you eat affect your body.
Getting plenty of dietary fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and protective phytonutrients is essential to the anti-inflammatory diet. Make sure your diet is diverse and includes a variety of fruits and vegetables from all across the color spectrum – berries tomatoes, dark leafy greens, and orange and yellow fruits. Try to minimize the amount of alcohol you drink, prioritizing red wine when you do consume alcohol. Stay hydrated and eat cruciferous vegetables like cabbage regularly.
Don’t focus on eating too much of one thing – rather, eat some of everything in moderation. Pay attention to how you feel after eating new foods or cutting certain foods out of your diet – let your body be your teacher, and you’ll soon learn what works for you and what doesn’t in terms of reducing inflammation… and reducing your risk of cancer by extension.