Your Anti-Inflammatory Diet Is Probably Just the Opposite

There’s a lot of dietary trash talking in the wellness community, and one of the terms that gets thrown around a lot is “inflammatory.” Popular elimination diets like Whole30 restrict entire categories of food —…

There’s a lot of dietary trash talking in the wellness community, and one of the terms that gets thrown around a lot is “inflammatory.”

Popular elimination diets like Whole30 restrict entire categories of food — including legumes, grains and dairy — under the premise that they are “inflammatory.” Another protocol, the ” autoimmune paleo” or AIP diet, similarly claims to reduce inflammation in the gut and “calm inflammation in the body” by eliminating legumes, grains, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables in the “nightshade” family (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplants), olive oil, certain spices and, ironically, one of nature’s most antioxidant-rich foods: chocolate. Then there’s the fear-mongering against natural plant compounds called lectins, which one newer fad diet claims are both toxic and inflammatory. The solution? Avoid beans and legumes, grains, cashews, squash, nightshade vegetables and, if you must eat wheat, choose white flour over whole wheat. Wait, what?

[See: 8 Food Trends Nutrition Pros Pray Never Return.]

How are any of these diet proponents even measuring inflammation? Did they all get together one night and collectively agree to unleash a smear campaign against grains, legumes, nightshade vegetables and seeds? How did these foods make it onto these elimination diets’ hit lists? Beats me — especially since there is actual science that can tell us what foods or dietary components actually contribute to measurable inflammation in the body, and what a true anti-inflammatory diet looks like.

Meet the dietary inflammatory index, or the DII. It’s an evidence-based tool developed by researchers who reviewed over 1,900 — yes, one thousand nine hundred — research studies that investigated the effect of certain foods or food components on one of six markers of systemic inflammation in the body.

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