- Heart disease
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Some forms of arthritis (e.g. rheumatoid)
A literature review of the associations between dietary patterns and biomarkers of inflammation revealed that meat-based dietary patterns were associated with more inflammation, while vegetable and fruit-based diets were associated with less.
Meat may be associated with inflammation because of both the animal protein and the animal fat:
- An interventional study evaluating the effects of vegetable and animal protein on inflammatory status in obese adults found a higher intake of animal protein was associated with higher levels of inflammatory markers.
- Animal fats (primarily chicken and eggs) contain arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that our body uses to produce inflammatory compounds.
Whole plant foods have anti-inflammatory effects, though some plants are better than others. In one interventional study, research subjects made to eat high- antioxidant fruits and vegetables, like berries and greens, had significantly reduced systemic inflammation compared to subjects made to eat low antioxidant fruits and veggies, like bananas and lettuce. Another study shows that eat just four servings of legumes a week—lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans—dropped C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation) levels by 40% in two months.
So let’s focus on eating the antioxidant-rich foods, which are the colourful fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens, avocados, beets and berries, as well as lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, green tea, and certain spices, such as ginger and turmeric.
§ § §
Teresa Ford, B.Sc., VLCE — shown here about to diving into a huge bowl of veggie pho in Portland! — is a clinical researcher with a Nutritional Science degree. She’s a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator (Main Street Vegan Academy) who is based in London, Ontario, who is passionate about helping people make informed decisions about what they eat. This article first appeared in her monthly newsletter. To receive her newsletters, click here.