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All over the internet we can see reference to anti-inflammatory diets and anti-inflammatory property of general food. Examples:

Web MD

Experts discuss the potential disease-fighting benefits of diets that try to reduce inflammation. [...] The average American diet, Greenfield says, includes far too many foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids, found in processed and fast foods, and far too few rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in cold-water fish or supplements. When that balance is out of whack, inflammation can set in, Sears explains.

Fox News

Eating high levels of saturated fats, trans fats, and refined sugars (read: the modern American diet) sets off a series of reactions: The "bad fat" triggers the liver to release chemicals to fight the toxins, which causes inflammation. Meanwhile, the glucose in food can't be transported to your cells while the body is inflamed, which means that your brain isn't registering the intake. The result: You're left feeling foggy, hungry, and more prone to cravings, which then restarts the cycle.

The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan

At the heart of the program is the revolutionary IF Rating system that, for the first time, tells you the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effects of all of the foods you eat.

Do saturated fats and refined sugars trigger inflammation?

Wkipedia mentions anti-inflammatory food in relation to some Prostaglandins "hormones" but how relevant is this? More interestingly some food has been labeled as having pro-inflammatory property like eggs.

My question is: Is there a measurable effect for a regular food or diet? And have any real medical studies been conducted?

  • 2
    Please add a relevant quote from the links. – Wertilq Jun 26 '13 at 16:00
  • I made some changes because, looking at the quotes it seems that the claim is not so much than good foods are anti-inflamamtories but that bad foods trigger inflammation, and good foods don't. – Oddthinking Jun 27 '13 at 13:25
  • @Oddthinking I partially agree but on the other hand for instance the Wikipedia article talks specifically about Prostaglandis (found for instance in omega-3 fatty acids) which has direct anti-inflammatory impact. So it seems to me that we should ask about both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties. – daniel.sedlacek Jun 27 '13 at 13:49
  • Understood. Ok. – Oddthinking Jun 27 '13 at 15:33
  • Who makes the claim that "there a measurable effect for a regular food or diet", or that any real medical studies have been conducted? – user5582 Jul 1 '13 at 3:09
4

The answer to your question is yes, studies have been conducted and there is a measurable effect on inflammatory markers. [1]

In normal subjects, the high-fat meal increased the plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-6 (IL-6), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1)

The more interesting question is why high fat meals do this. It was thought that fat caused a leaky gut causing the passage of native bacterial endotoxin across the gut membrane, but experimental studies now suggest that the source of the bacterial endotoxin is actually from the food itself. [2]

To investigate what may differentiate inflammatory from non-inflammatory food extracts, stimulants of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2 and TLR4 were quantified using human embryonic kidney-293 cells transfected with each TLR, and calibrated with defined bacterial lipopeptide (BLP) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) standards. These assays revealed that while most foods contained undetectable levels of TLR2 or TLR4 stimulants, all TNF-α-inducing foods contained stimulants of either TLR2 (up to 1100 ng BLP-equivalent/g) or TLR4 (up to 2700 ng LPS-equivalent/g) in both the soluble and insoluble fractions. TLR stimulants were present mainly in meat products and processed foods, but were minimal or undetectable in fresh fruit and vegetables.


[1] Nappo F, Esposito K, Cioffi M, [..], Giugliano D. Postprandial endothelial activation in healthy subjects and in type 2 diabetic patients: role of fat and carbohydrate meals. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 2002 Apr 3;39(7):1145-50. PubMed PMID: 11923038.

[2] Erridge C. The capacity of foodstuffs to induce innate immune activation of human monocytes in vitro is dependent on food content of stimulants of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4. Br. J. Nutr. 2011 Jan;105(1):15-23. doi: 10.1017/S0007114510003004. PubMed PMID: 20849668.

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