Plant-Based Diets Linked to Lower Levels of Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation: You hear the word all the time, but what is it, what does it mean for your health and how can you control it? We have answers here.
Inflammation is a protective response from the body. There are two types of inflammation: chronic and acute. Acute inflammation is what happens when you get sick or cut yourself. The body increases blood flow and moves proteins to the affected area to help the healing process—this lasts for a short time and is what causes redness and irritation. However, when the condition causing inflammation persists long-term, the result is chronic inflammation, which harms rather than helps. Chronic inflammation can be brought on by conditions like arthritis, but obesity is a major cause, and long-term inflammation is linked to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
In a 2016 systematic review published in Obesity Reviews, German researchers analyzed 29 different publications that examined the role of plant foods on chronic inflammation. Among 2,689 total participants, most of whom were overweight or obese, researchers found eating plant-based diets—emphasizing vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes with modest amounts of fish and dairy—were linked to an overall improvement in inflammatory biomarkers (measurable substances in the blood that signify there is inflammation). Less chronic inflammation means lower risk of chronic disease.
Plant foods are beneficial for several reasons. They’re generally lower in calories and pack more healthful nutrients than refined carbohydrates and meats that tend to be high in sugars and saturated fats. Plants foods can help with weight management and obesity prevention. They can also help fight oxidative stress and keep blood sugar levels in check. One particular plant-based diet noted for health benefits is the Mediterranean Diet, which has been linked to improved blood flow, kidney health and longevity.
Add more plants to your diet by swapping out less healthy foods and replacing them with plants. Mushrooms can replace meat and avocado makes a nutritious substitute for mayonnaise. Find more tips and ideas from our Creative Kitchen and try our recipe for Sweet and Savory Potato Salad, a plant-based dish made with sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, spinach and kale.
Published October 1, 2016