Is your diet driving up inflammation?

The foods you eat have the potential to either accelerate or dampen inflammation in your body.

It’s increasingly recognized that chronic inflammation is a major contributor to illnesses including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, asthma, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

What is inflammation?

Intermittent bouts of inflammation are normal and protective. This short-lived inflammation is your body’s healthy immune response to injury and infection. Once the problem is repaired, your immune response is deactivated, and inflammation subsides.

If the process of acute inflammation fails to stop infection or heal an injury, chronic inflammation is activated. Ongoing low-grade inflammation churns out excessive inflammatory compounds that can silently damage cells and increase illness.

The link between diet and inflammation

Your diet can cause or worsen inflammation by increasing the production of harmful free radicals, stimulating the production of inflammatory immune cells and altering the composition of gut microbes in a direction that promotes inflammation.

The most significant dietary drivers of chronic inflammation are excess calories, a high intake of refined starches, added sugars, unhealthy fats and red and processed meats and a suboptimal intake of anti-inflammatory fats and fibre-rich plant foods.

You can measure the inflammatory potential of your diet. The DII (Dietary Inflammatory Index), a tool developed by researchers from the University of South Carolina, is a validated food questionnaire that scores your diet based on 45 inflammation-promoting and anti-inflammatory food components.

The DII has been the focus of more than 225 published studies; inflammatory DII scores have been associated with a greater risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

The anti-inflammatory diet

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to help prevent chronic disease and, if you have a condition that causes inflammation, doing so can reduce inflammation and lessen your symptoms.

The anti-inflammatory diet is at the cornerstone of Medcan’s food philosophy. It’s a way of eating that includes foods and food components (e.g., fibre, antioxidants, phytonutrients, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids) known to suppress inflammation and limits ones that promote inflammation (e.g., refined grains, added sugars, processed red meat, unhealthy fats).

Medcan’s Three Month Anti-Inflammatory Diet Program is designed to help you increase the anti-inflammatory potential of your diet. A Medcan dietitian will use the DII risk calculator to score the inflammatory potential of your current diet. You’ll also undergo lab testing to measure inflammatory markers and anti-inflammatory nutrients in your bloodstream.

Over the course of eight one-on-one sessions with your registered dietitian, you’ll receive personalized diet advice and coaching to help you adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. Anti-inflammatory meal and snack ideas, recipes, label reading and goal setting will be covered.

At the three-month mark, your DII score and blood measures will be repeated to show how your diet has improved.

To learn more about the program, or to book your initial assessment, contact Medcan Nutrition (nutrition@medcan.com ) or phone 416-862-1553.

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