Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Inflammation Protects

Inflammation in response to infection mobilizes the immune system and serves a vital purpose in defense against disease and parasites. Too much or too little inflammation is unhealthy.

A recent report (ref. below) provides a note of caution in the use of anti-inflammatory dietary supplements. Modern diets are inflammatory and provide a major predisposition to degenerative and autoimmune diseases, but the inflammation has some qualified advantages in providing protection to infectious diseases. Densely packed humans survive against the constant threat of epidemics, in part because of heightened dietary inflammation.

The paper listed below shows that habitual use of the potent anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric, curcumin, can effectively lower chronic inflammation. Inhibition of inflammation is not a good thing, however, if the source of inflammation is a chronic parasitic infection of Leishmania. While this article indicates that suppression of inflammation may not be uniformly advised, it does demonstrate the effectiveness of natural products, such as curcumin.

A different study of tuberculosis comparing  land-locked versus genetically related, fish-fed populations, found that the fish eating group was more susceptible to the disease. The interpretation of the results was that the high omega-3 fatty acids of the fish diet reduced chronic inflammation in the coastal community and thereby increased the susceptiblity to TB.

The bottom line for me is that a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet is much safer than the typical modern inflammatory diet of high carbs, high vegetable oils (omega-6), low fruits and vegetables (few antioxidants, low in vitamins C, D and A) and harsh for supportive gut flora. It does leave open the possibility that during an unusual infection a return to fast food may shift your body into a state of high alert.

Adapala N, Chan MM. Long-term use of an anti-inflammatory, curcumin, suppressed type 1 immunity and exacerbated visceral leishmaniasis in a chronic experimental model. Lab Invest. 2008 Sep 15. [Epub ahead of print]

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