Numerous studies have linked chronic inflammation to increased risk of various diseases, including cancer.
One study found that chronic inflammation can predispose individuals to cancer, and this has been demonstrated by such research as that linking chronic inflammatory diseases of the bowels to increased risk of colon cancer.
Chronic inflammation can be the result of viral or bacterial infections, obesity, chemical irritants, non-digestible particles and many other factors, which is why it is important to include anti-inflammatory foods in your regular diet.
Dietary inflammatory index
A tool to rank diets according to the amount of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods it contains, known as the dietary inflammatory index, has been developed by the University of South Carolina and the Arnold School of Public Health. This index rates around fifty different foods according to nutrients and phytochemicals with inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties, and was used in a study on the correlation between chronic inflammation and the risk of colorectal cancer. The study was published in the Cancer Epidemiology and Biomarkers Prevention Journal and the index is being transformed into a tool that will be available for healthcare professionals and, ultimately, consumers.
Foods that are known to have anti-inflammatory properties
Although the index is still not available for consumer use, there is plenty of research on foods that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects that you can include in your own everyday diet.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Wild caught fish
- Dark leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Some kinds of teal
An anti-inflammatory diet
This is not actually a diet in the usual sense that people mean, like not eating carbs and eating only healthy foods to shed some unwanted weight. It is intended to be a diet that will reduce chronic inflammation in the longer term and requires an awareness of how the foods we eat affect our bodies and a commitment to sticking to the right foods.
The anti-inflammatory diet stipulates consuming plenty of essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and protective phytonutrients. The diet should be diverse and include various fruits and vegetables from the whole color spectrum – red tomatoes and berries, orange and yellow fruits, leafy greens, etc. The amount of alcohol should be minimized and red wine should be the preferred alcoholic beverage. You should remain hydrated and eat cabbage and other cruciferous veggies regularly.
The focus should be on eating some of everything in moderate amounts, not just eating one thing excessively. You should let your body tell you what works for you by paying attention to how you feel after trying new foods or cutting other foods out and very soon you will find out what is or is not effective in reducing inflammation, and thus reduce your risk of cancer, too.