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Chronic low-grade, systemic inflammation is a well-characterized risk factor in the development of chronic metabolic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Diet could be an effective strategy for reducing inflammation associated with chronic disease. While anti-inflammatory properties of isolated dietary bioactive and functional foods have been routinely studied, the evaluation of dietary patterns on inflammation warrants further review—especially given the recent inclusion of dietary pattern recommendations into dietary guidelines and policies. Therefore, the objective of this narrative review is to examine current evidence linking diet to low-grade, systemic inflammation within the context of chronic disease. Specifically, we provide an update on the findings from human trials that have characterized anti-inflammatory properties of dietary patterns, defined by various methods and indexes. Given the complexity of interpreting results from dietary pattern analysis, we further present recent evidence on the anti-inflammatory roles of isolated bioactive nutrients and functional foods that are common components of distinct dietary patterns, in addition to considerations for interpreting dietary pattern research, population-specific dietary recommendations, and future studies. Overall, we observe a vast range of variability in the evidence from observational studies that have evaluated the relationships between healthy dietary patterns and inflammatory markers. These studies highlight the need for additional intervention studies with study designs that account for metabolic status, diversity in populations, breadth of inflammatory measurements, fasting vs. postprandial effects of diet, and control of confounding factors (e.g., genotype, microbiome profiles, and dietary adherence) in order to better understand the effect that diet has, as a whole, on inflammation. These strategies will help to strengthen diet recommendations aimed at reducing inflammation and chronic disease risk.


Copyright © 2019 Mariana C. Calle and Catherine J. Andersen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Disease Markers

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Calle, M. C., & Andersen, C. J. (2019). Assessment of Dietary Patterns Represents a Potential, Yet Variable, Measure of Inflammatory Status: A Review and Update. Disease Markers, 2019.



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