Expired CME Article

Inflammation: Nutritional, Botanical, and Mind-body Influences

Authors: David P. Rakel, MD, Adam Rindfleisch, MD, MPHIL


Chronic inflammation is becoming an important risk factor to identify in regard to inhibiting disease onset and its progression. Nutritional science attempted to improve health by manipulating fats so that we could consume “healthy” nonsaturated fats while simultaneously allowing foods to have a longer shelf-life. However, despite our good intentions, trans-fats and partially hydrogenated oils have been found to promote inflammation and adversely affect health. This article reviews how essential fatty acids, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, glycemic load, the Mediterranean diet, specific foods and botanicals, and the mind-body relation influence the inflammatory cascade.

Key Points

* Foods rich in partially hydrogenated oils and trans-fatty acids increase inflammation.

* The most appropriate ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is approximately 4:1. This requires increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids and reducing the intake of omega-6 fatty acids.

* Eating charred, grilled, or burnt foods can increase inflammation.

* Eating foods with a high glycemic index and load increases inflammation and free radical production.

* The mind-body interface can play a significant role in triggering the inflammatory cascade, and stress and depression should be addressed as part of the therapeutic approach to inflammatory disorders.

* Both the cause and treatment of chronic inflammation are related to lifestyle choices. Improvement in nutrition, weight, exercise, and stress will have the most beneficial long-term influences.

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