World will have more obese children and adolescents than underweight by 2022

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The number of obese children and adolescents (aged 5 to 19 years) worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades, according to a new study led by Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO). If current trends continue, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately or severely underweight by 2022. The study is published in The Lancet. It analyzed weight and height measurements from nearly 130 million people aged over five (31.5 million people aged 5 to 19, and 97.4 million aged 20 and older), the largest number of participants ever involved in an epidemiological study. More than 1000 researchers contributed to the study, which looked at body mass index (BMI) and how obesity has changed worldwide from 1975 to 2016.

During this period, obesity rates in the world’s children and adolescents increased from less than 1% (equivalent to five million girls and six million boys) in 1975 to nearly 6% in girls (50 million) and nearly 8% in boys (74 million) in 2016. Combined, the number of obese 5 to 19-year-olds rose more than tenfold globally, from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016. An additional 213 million were overweight in 2016 but fell below the threshold for obesity. Lead author Professor Majid Ezzati, of Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “Over the past four decades, obesity rates in children and adolescents have soared globally, and continue to do so in low-and-middle-income countries. More recently, they have plateaued in higher income countries, although obesity levels remain unacceptably high.”

Professor Ezzati adds: “These worrying trends reflect the impact of food marketing and policies across the globe, with healthy nutritious foods too expensive for poor families and communities. The trend predicts a generation of children and adolescents growing up obese and also malnourished. We need ways to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods.”

More obese than underweight 5 to 19-year-olds by 2022

The authors say that if post-2000 trends continue, global levels of child and adolescent obesity will surpass those for moderately and severely underweight for the same age group by 2022. Nevertheless, the large number of moderately or severely underweight children and adolescents in 2016 (75 million girls and 117 boys) still represents a major public health challenge, especially in the poorest parts of the world. This reflects the threat posed by malnutrition in all its forms, with there being underweight and overweight young people living in the same communities. Children and adolescents have rapidly transitioned from mostly underweight to mostly overweight in many middle-income countries, including in East Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The authors say this could reflect an increase in the consumption of energy-dense foods, especially highly processed carbohydrates, which lead to weight gain and poor lifelong health outcomes.

Dr. Fiona Bull, the programme coordinator for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) at WHO, said: “These data highlights, remind and reinforce that overweight and obesity is a global health crisis today, and threatens to worsen in coming years unless we start taking drastic action.”

Global data for obesity and underweight

In 2016, there were 50 million obese girls and 74 million obese boys in the world, while the global number of moderately or severely underweight girls and boys was 75 million and 117 million respectively. The number of obese adults increased from 100 million in 1975 (69 million women, 31 million men) to 671 million in 2016 (390 million women, 281 million men). Another 1.3 billion adults were overweight but fell below the threshold for obesity.

Regional/Country data for obesity, BMI and underweight

Obesity:

The rise in childhood and adolescent obesity in low- and middle-income countries, especially in Asia, has accelerated since 1975. Conversely, the rise in high-income countries has slowed and plateaued. The largest increase in the number of obese children and adolescents was seen in East Asia, the high-income English-speaking region (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK), and the Middle East and North Africa. In 2016, obesity rates were highest overall in Polynesia and Micronesia, at 25.4% in girls and 22.4% in boys, followed by the high-income English-speaking region. Nauru had the highest prevalence of obesity for girls (33.4%), and the Cook Islands had the highest for boys (33.3%).

In Europe, girls in Malta and boys in Greece had the highest obesity rates, at 11.3% and 16.7% of the population respectively. Girls and boys in Moldova had the lowest obesity rates, at 3.2% and 5% of the population respectively. Girls in the UK had the 73rd highest obesity rate in the world (6th in Europe), and boys in the UK had the 84th highest obesity in the world (18th in Europe). Girls in the USA had the 15th highest obesity rate in the world, and boys had the 12th highest obesity in the world. Among high-income countries, the USA had the highest obesity rates for girls and boys.

BMI:

The largest rise in BMI of children and adolescents since 1975 was in Polynesia and Micronesia for both sexes, and in central Latin America for girls. The smallest rise in the BMI of children and adolescents during the four decades covered by the study was seen in Eastern Europe. The country with the biggest rise in BMI for girls was Samoa, which rose by 5.6 kg/m2, and for boys was the Cook Islands, which rose by 4.4 kg/m2.

Underweight:

India had the highest prevalence of moderately and severely underweight (BMI <19) throughout these four decades (24.4% of girls and 39.3% of boys were moderately or severely underweight in 1975, and 22.7% and 30.7% in 2016). 97 million of the world’s moderately or severely underweight children and adolescents lived in India in 2016.

Solutions exist to reduce child and adolescent obesity

In conjunction with the release of the new obesity estimates, WHO is publishing a summary of the Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) Implementation Plan. The plan gives countries clear guidance on effective actions to curb childhood and adolescent obesity. WHO has also released guidelines calling on frontline healthcare workers to actively identify and manage children who are overweight or obese. Dr. Bull added: “WHO encourages countries to implement efforts to address the environments that today are increasing our children’s chance of obesity. Countries should aim particularly to reduce consumption of cheap, ultra-processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor foods. They should also reduce the time children spend on screen-based and sedentary leisure activities by promoting greater participation in physical activity through active recreation and sports.”

Dr. Sophie Hawkesworth, from the Population Health team at Wellcome Trust, which co-funded the study, said: “Global population studies on this scale are hugely important in understanding and addressing modern health challenges. This study harnessed the power of big data to highlight worrying trends of both continuing high numbers of underweight children and teenagers and a concurrent stark rise in childhood obesity. Together with global health partners and the international research community, Wellcome is working to help identify new research opportunities that could help better understand all aspects of malnutrition and the long-term health consequences.”

My thoughts: The unfortunate and sad reality is that I was not surprised when I read the research. 😔 However, this is just more proof that we have to work together as a world, not a country, to fight this epidemic…..and not only obesity but eating disorders as a whole. We can win!

Adapted from: NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC). Worldwide trends in body-mass index, underweight, overweight, and obesity from 1975 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 2416 population-based measurement studies in 128*9 million children, adolescents, and adults. The Lancet, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/ S0140-6736(17)32129-3

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Schedule time each week to plan healthy meals! Keep your recipes, grocery list, and coupons in the same place to make planning and budgeting easier.

 

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ASIAN BEEF NOODLE SALAD

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(Serves: 6)

3 c. spring mix salad

3 c. baby spinach

1 c. purple cabbage, thinly sliced

1 med. yellow pepper, thinly sliced

1 8-oz. pkg Udon Asian pasta

1 lb. 90% lean ground beef

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

3 T. low sodium soy sauce (divided)

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 lime, juiced

2 T. rice vinegar

1/2 tsp honey

3 T canola oil

In a large serving bowl, combine first four ingredients and set aside. Cook Udon Asian pasta according to package directions Rinse pasta well under cool water and then add to salad mixture. Brown ground beef in medium skillet over medium heat; drain off fat. Stir cayenne, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and lime juice into beef mixture; remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk remaining soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and canola oil. Pour over salad mixture and toss to coat. Serve salad and top with ground beef.

Nutrition Facts per Serving:

Calories 390, Fat 17g, Saturated Fat 4g, Carbohydrates 33g, Fiber 4g, Protein 27g, Sodium 420mg

Note: Udon noodles are wheat noodle with a neutral flavor found in the Asian aisle of most large supermarkets.

Adapted from: Bernadette Martineau, RD

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Grow fruits and veggies in your own garden! Kids are more likely to try something they’ve grown themselves.

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Calorie postings on menus cause more health mentions in online restaurant reviews

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In 2008, New York City mandated all chain restaurants to post the calories of items on their menus. The intent was to induce consumers to choose healthier items in the restaurant. A forthcoming study in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science, a leading scholarly marketing publication, investigated whether the calorie posting on menus impacted consumer evaluations of the restaurant. The study found that once the calorie posting regulation was implemented, online reviews significantly increased. The result suggests that calorie posting can not only shift consumers towards healthier alternatives when inside a restaurant, but can also, potentially, redirect consumers towards healthier restaurants and food items.

The study, “The Effect of Calorie Posting Regulation on Consumer Opinion: A Flexible Latent Dirichlet Allocation Model with Informative Priors,” was co-authored by Dinesh Puranam of the University of Southern California, Vishal Narayan of the National University of Singapore, and Vrinda Kadiyali of Cornell University. The authors analyzed 761,962 restaurant reviews across 9,805 restaurants on an online restaurant review website in New York City from 2004 to 2012. Using text-mining methods, the authors examined the change in the mentions of health in reviews over time before and after the calorie posting rule went into effect. To rule out the possibility that the health mentions increase was simply due to increased public interest in health issues over time, they compared the change in topics discussed for chain restaurants, relative to non-chain restaurants which were not mandated by the rule to post calorie information. The authors found a significant increase in the proportion of reviews that discussed health for chain restaurants, relative to non-chain restaurants.

The authors also explored in greater detail the source of the increase in health topics. They found that it was largely driven by new reviewers who were previously not active in posting reviews, but began to post more reviews after the mandate. Puranam noted that “Interestingly, the increase in health discussion in opinions was not confined to restaurants in more affluent localities, commonly associated with more health-conscious consumers. This is an encouraging sign of the success of the rule across the socioeconomic divide — especially given the greater incidence of obesity among lower socioeconomic classes.”

New York City recently expanded the rule beyond chain restaurants to also include fine dining restaurants. Narayan noted that “our result that calorie posting on menus impacts online reviews is significant for this rule expansion since consumers are even more likely to consult reviews for fine dining restaurants than for chain restaurants that they habitually visit. Whether this will have an impact on the caloric content of items on fine dining restaurant menus of restaurants, of course, remains to be seen.”

Kadiyali cautioned that more work is needed to study whether the increased discussion of health topics actually do lead to a greater choice of healthier restaurants. “It is possible that the health-conscious consumers may choose healthier restaurants while the less health conscious may avoid them. In this case, health benefits across the population may be ambiguous. Nevertheless, our study suggests that online reviews are a useful place to look for potential changes in consumer behavior due to this rule,” she said.

Adapted from: Dinesh Puranam, Vishal Narayan, Vrinda Kadiyali. The Effect of Calorie Posting Regulation on Consumer Opinion: A Flexible Latent Dirichlet Allocation Model with Informative Priors. Marketing Science, 2017; DOI: 10.1287/mksc.2017.1048

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Instead of frying foods which can add a lot of extra calories and unhealthy fats, use healthier cooking methods that add little or no solid fat, like roasting, grilling, baking or steaming.

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7 Foods to Improve Eyesight

Our eyesight is among the conditions underestimated by many people. Usually, people take care of their eyesight only when they start experiencing some problems. However, this should not be the case!

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Our eyes are extremely important and they help us to see the everyday beauty that life offers us, so we should take constant care of them, doing everything in our power to protect them. The care related to our eyes is pretty complex, and our diet is one part that plays an important role in it. The food we consume can help us to protect our eyesight and to prevent numerous health issues related to it.

These are the best foods that can improve your eyesight:

1. Carrots

Carrots are the most beneficial food for the good condition of your eyes. They are abundant with vitamin A that can prevent night blindness and essential for the health of your eyes. Carrots can reduce the risk of macular degeneration and Cataracts due to their rich content of antioxidants, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein.

2. Salmon and sardines

To protect your eyesight, you should regularly consume fish. It is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that can improve the health of your eyes. The regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can protect the tiny blood vessels in your eyes. Make sure to consume fish, such as salmon, sardines, or herring, twice a week.

3. Broccoli

It is a well-known fact that broccoli is extremely beneficial for our overall health. Broccoli can significantly improve the health of your eyes. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamins and can supply your body with the essential nutrients. By consuming broccoli, you will intake vitamins A, E, and C, all of which work together to protect your eyesight.

4. Spinach

This green plant contains carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Moreover, it is a great source of vitamins E and C which can prevent macular degeneration and night blindness.

5. Eggs

Maybe you will not believe it, but eggs can improve the health of your eyes. They contain vitamin A, vitamin B complex, essential fatty acids, and zinc. It doesn’t matter how you consume them as long as they are included in your diet, so make sure to regularly consume them for your breakfast….or whenever you like to eat eggs!

6. Almonds

Almonds are a great source of vitamin E which can slow down the development of problems that occur as a result of aging. Moreover, they can prevent cataracts.

7. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries

These fresh and delicious fruits are abundant with antioxidants which are known to reduce the risk of many eye problems. They are also packed with vitamin C which can significantly protect the health of your eyes. Other foods recommended for improving your eyesight: Milk, avocados, lemons, oranges, dark chocolate, papaya, pumpkin, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, and apricots.

Our bodies depend on us to choose the right fuel sources!

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Enjoy fruit for dessert most days and limit traditional desserts to special occasions. Try a delicious smoothie, a mixed berry and yogurt parfait, or a baked spiced apple or pear!

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A spoonful of oil: Fats and oils help to unlock full nutritional benefits of veggies

The song says a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but an Iowa State University scientist has published new research suggesting a spoonful of oil makes vegetables more nutritious.

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A new study led by Wendy White, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition, shows that eating salad with added fat in the form of soybean oil promotes the absorption of eight different micronutrients that promote human health. Conversely, eating the same salad without the added oil lessens the likelihood that the body will absorb the nutrients. The study appeared recently in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the results may ease the guilt of countless dieters who fret about adding dressing to their salads. White’s study found added oil aided in the absorption of seven different micronutrients in salad vegetables. Those nutrients include four carotenoids — alpha and beta carotene, lutein and lycopene — two forms of vitamins E and K. The oil also promoted the absorption of vitamin A, the eighth micronutrient tracked in the study, which formed in the intestine from the alpha and beta carotene. The new study builds on previous research from White’s group that focused on alpha and beta carotene and lycopene.

White said better absorption of the nutrients promotes a range of health benefits, including cancer prevention and eyesight preservation. The study also found that the amount of oil added to the vegetables had a proportional relationship with the amount of nutrient absorption. That is, more oil means more absorption. “The best way to explain it would be to say that adding twice the amount of salad dressing leads to twice the nutrient absorption,” White said.

That doesn’t give salad eaters license to drench their greens in dressing, she cautioned. However, she said consumers should be perfectly comfortable with the U.S. dietary recommendation of about two tablespoons of oil per day. The study included 12 college-age women who consumed salads with various levels of soybean oil, a common ingredient in commercial salad dressings. The subjects then had their blood tested to measure the absorption of nutrients. Women were chosen for the trial due to differences in the speed with which men and women metabolize the nutrients in question.

The results showed maximal nutrient absorption occurred at around 32 grams of oil, which was the highest amount studied, or a little more than two tablespoons. However, White said she found some variability among the subjects. “For most people, the oil is going to benefit nutrient absorption,” she said. “The average trend, which was statistically significant, was for increased absorption.”

Therefore, a spoonful or two of salad dressing may indeed help you derive the optimal nutritional benefit from your veggies. The relationship between a spoonful of sugar and the medicine going down, however, remains outside the scope of White’s research.

*Research collaborators included Yang Zhou, a former ISU postdoctoral researcher; Agatha Agustiana Crane, a former graduate research assistant in food science and human nutrition; Philip Dixon, a University Professor of Statistics, and Frits Quadt of Quadt Consultancy, among others. Unilever, a global food company, provided funding for the research. The company had no input in the publication of the study.

Adapated from: Wendy S White, Yang Zhou, Agatha Crane, Philip Dixon, Frits Quadt, Leonard M Flendrig. Modeling the dose effects of soybean oil in salad dressing on carotenoid and fat-soluble vitamin bioavailability in salad vegetables. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2017; 106 (4): 1041 DOI: 10.3945/%u200Bajcn.117.153635

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Try sparkling water, unsweetened tea or sugar-free beverages instead of sugar-sweetened soda or tea. Add lemon, lime or berries to beverages for extra flavor.

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Gluten intolerance appears largely undiagnosed in Canada

Research on a large sample of Canadians suggests that most people with celiac disease don’t know they have it.

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Ahmed El-Sohemy, a professor of Nutritional Science at the University of Toronto, and his colleagues studied the bloodwork of almost 3,000 Canadians and found that one in 114 (or almost one per cent) had elevated antibodies that indicate they suffered from celiac disease, which causes gastric distress and other symptoms. However, the vast majority, almost 90%, were unaware they had the disease. The data was collected about a decade ago, just before public awareness about the potential problems with gluten skyrocketed. The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, is the first to screen for celiac antibodies in a Canadian population. It confirms previous research suggesting that Caucasians are more susceptible to celiac disease than other ethnocultural groups. Although the number of South and East Asians screened in the Canadian study was small, none were found to have the disease. Intriguingly, though, a genetic variant that puts people at high risk for celiac disease was almost as high in the South Asian samples as the Caucasian ones, suggesting that other factors could play a role in who goes on to develop the disease.

“This hopefully should just raise awareness that despite the gluten-free craze there are a lot of people who still don’t know they have celiac disease,” says El-Sohemy. “It’s important for people to understand that celiac disease is not a single clear symptom — it manifests itself in different ways. Symptoms could be fatigue, gastro-intestinal, or other problems. These symptoms are so diverse that doctors have a difficult time pinpointing the cause. Gluten intolerance is not usually the first thing that comes to their mind.”

Adding to the diagnostic confusion, reactions to gluten are not often immediate and acute, El-Sohemy says. “It’s not like lactose where you feel bad within a day after consuming it. Gluten causes damage to the intestinal lining, which results in malabsorption of vitamins and other nutrients, and the effects of those nutrient deficiencies are quite varied.” El-Sohemy believes people with a genetic susceptibility to celiac disease should consider blood tests to determine whether they have the disease if they present with any of the disease symptoms. His analysis of blood samples from Canadians of South Asian heritage suggests that genetic predisposition is only one piece of the celiac puzzle. Future research may focus on the timing of exposure to gluten as well as the role of gut bacteria.

As for why so many non-celiac sufferers feel better after giving up gluten, El-Sohemy speculates the real issue is “because they stopped eating heaping servings of pasta, white bread and other sources of processed carbohydrates.”

Adapted from: Joseph Jamnik, Christopher R Villa, Sirbarinder Bryn Dhir, David J A Jenkins, Ahmed El-Sohemy. Prevalence of positive coeliac disease serology and HLA risk genotypes in a multiethnic population of adults in Canada: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 2017; 7 (10): bmjopen-2017-017678 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017678

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Let your heart be the guide when grocery shopping! Look for foods with the American Heart Association’s trusted Heart-Check mark to make smarter food choices.

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Is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet the Best for You?

Fans of anti-inflammatory diets say they can transform you inside and out. Is this another  “health” fad…or do we all really need to go AI?

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An anti-inflammatory diet=less pain, happy gut, more energy, and more! This diet may be buzzy, but the tenets of an AI diet; more plants, less sugar, no refined stuff, is far from a passing fad. “Who needs to eat a more anti-inflammatory diet? Everyone,” says Barry Sears, PhD, creator of The Zone diet, who has spent decades studying chronic inflammation. Here’s the lowdown on inflammation, and how to fight it with food.

What the heck is inflammation, anyway?

Believe it or not, inflammation starts as a good thing. It happens when your immune system sends out white blood cells and “warrior” compounds, such as eicosanoids to attack invading viruses, bacteria, or toxins. A classic example of normal inflammation: Pain, heat, redness, and swelling around a wound or injury (think of a tender sprained ankle). “There’s a separate response called ‘resolution’ that brings the dogs of war back to their barracks and heals your tissues,” says Sears. “The first phase of inflammation causes cellular destruction, and the second phase, resolution, begins cellular rejuvenation. As long as those phases are balanced, you stay well.”

However, for most of us, the balance never happens. That’s because sugar, refined grains, and saturated fat can also trigger an inflammatory immune response, notes Sears, and the typical Western diet is packed with them, meaning we’re inflaming our bodies over and over, every time we eat. Meanwhile, guess what the average American gets way too little of? Fruits, non-starchy veggies, and fatty fish. Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that help cool things down and reduce the intensity of the initial inflammatory response and fatty fish, a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, can help your body move into the resolution phase.

Air pollution and environmental toxins also trigger your immune system in the same way, but “most of the chronic, extra inflammation in our bodies is diet-related,” says Sears. In arteries, chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease. In the brain, it’s linked to anxiety and depression. In your joints, it causes swelling and pain. In the gut, inflammation throws off the balance of helpful bacteria and causes direct damage to the lining of the intestines, says Mark Hyman, MD, director of the Center for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and author of The Blood Sugar Solution: 10-Day Detox Diet. This may contribute to IBS, food sensitivities, autoimmune diseases, and even obesity, research suggests.

In contrast, research shows that following a more anti-inflammatory style of eating may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and some cancers and may even extend your life, says Frank Hu, MD, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Other claims about anti-inflammatory diets, such as reversing autoimmune disease (the goal of the Autoimmune Protocol, an extremely restrictive AI diet) or improve mental health, have less solid proof, he says.

How to spot an anti-inflammatory diet

There isn’t just one specific “AI Diet,” unlike Atkins or South Beach. Sears’s Zone diet and Dr. Hyman’s Detox are both highly anti-inflammatory, as is the soy-heavy plan from integrative medicine guru Andrew Weil, MD. Paleo and Whole30 diets are both AI, as well. However, the plan with the most research-backed anti-inflammatory credibility is the traditional Mediterranean diet, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and olive oil. Several very large studies, including the famed Nurses’ Health Study, have found that people who follow a Mediterranean pattern of eating have lower levels of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 in their blood compared with those who do not. This may be one reason the Mediterranean diet is linked to so many health benefits, from keeping weight down to slashing heart and stroke risk, notes Dr. Hu.

The goals of an AI plan are simple: Cut back on foods that trigger an inflammatory response and eat more of the foods that heal damage. While there are some variations in what’s allowed and what isn’t, most AI plans share an emphasis on eating whole, minimally processed foods, non-starchy vegetables, monounsaturated fats, such as olive and avocado oil, colorful berries and other fruits, omega-3s from fatty fish (or supplements), and avoiding added sugar and refined grains. That said, your plate may look a little different from your friend’s or coworker’s, and that’s the way it should be, says Dr. Hyman. Some people thrive on a grain-free Paleo plan, while others would rather die than give up bread. Food sensitivities also play a role: “People react to foods differently, and if someone has a sensitivity to a particular food, it will lead to cytokine production and an increase in other inflammatory chemicals,” says Dr. Hyman. If you suspect you have a sensitivity, talk to your doctor or a dietitian, who can design an elimination diet to help ID the culprit.

What’s off the menu?

While all AI plans give a thumbs-up to veggies, fatty fish, and olive oil, the foods you can’t eat vary. Women with a history of eating disorders take note: “Restricting whole food groups can be triggering,” says Sonya Angelone, RDN. Here is what’s not allowed in four different diets:

Autoimmune protocol: Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants,peppers), nuts, seeds, eggs.

Paleo: All grains, dairy, legumes, (chickpeas, lentils, beans, peanuts).

The Zone Diet: All refined grains, white potatoes.

Mediterranean Diet: Added sugar, refined sugar.

So what exactly do you eat?

You don’t have to follow any AI diet perfectly to make a big impact. A healthy body is built to handle the occasional onslaught of inflammation (like having a cupcake at a party); it’s the regular, consistent consumption (and overconsumption) of inflammatory foods, such as sugar and saturated fat that’s linked to serious disease, says Sonya Angelone, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A 2012 study of nearly 2,000 people, for example, found that those who ate the most sweets over two years had significantly higher levels of interleukin-6 than people who ate more veggies, fruits, and whole grains. That’s why it’s more important to eat an overall “super” diet rather than focus on individual superfoods, says Angelone. “If you’re regularly eating a bunch of doughnuts along with a bunch of anti-inflammatory veggies, you’re still harming your body,” adds Dr. Hyman. Follow these AI guidelines on most days:

1. Aim for half to two-thirds of your plate to be nonstarchy vegetables. Greens of all kinds, mushrooms, summer squash, beets, cauliflower…the list goes on and on, as well as at breakfast, too, says Dr. Hyman. They’re packed with gut-balancing fiber and powerful antioxidants.

2. Limit added sugar and sweet drinks. That includes fruit juices and natural sweeteners, such as honey, says Dr. Hyman. In a small 2005 study, people who were fed a high-sugar diet for 10 weeks had significantly elevated blood levels of haptoglobin, an inflammatory marker that in high concentrations is associated with diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and obesity, compared with controls.

3. Eat fish. Especially fatty kinds, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and anchovies, or take omega-3 supplements, at least 1,000 milligrams daily, says Dr. Hyman.

4. Nix white flour and limit other flour-based foods. Focus on whole, intact grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, and bulgur wheat instead of loading up on whole-grain crackers, breads, and tortillas. Even 100% whole-grain flour will cause a spike in blood sugar that exacerbates inflammation, especially for people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome (i.e., prediabetes), or diabetes, so use them moderately, says Sears.

5. Choose fats carefully. The most abundant saturated fats in our diet contain the same fatty acids as do fragments of the cell walls of many bacteria. No wonder our immune system sees a bacon cheeseburger as a threat! Limit saturated fats and skip vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fats, such as safflower and corn oils. Opt instead for olive, avocado, or walnut oil. “It might sound tough, but if you think about it, it’s exactly how your grandmother probably told you to eat!” says Sears, and a diet endorsed by your nana? Now that sounds like a plan.

Yes, you might lose some weight

Going AI doesn’t automatically mean you’ll drop pounds, says Angelone, especially if your weight is in a healthy range to begin with. However, research does suggest that an AI diet packed with veggies and low in sugar and refined carbs can help with weight loss goals. “You feel fuller on fewer calories because the high-fiber foods have so much more volume,” she says. The healthy fats in an AI plan may also play a role: A large, five-year study published in 2016 found that people who ate a veggie-and fat-rich Mediterranean diet lost more weight than those who went on a low-fat plan.

The 10 best foods for fighting inflammation

These are foods that research has shown to have exceptionally strong effects on inflammation:

• Berries

• Dark green Leafy vegetables (like kale, spinach, Swiss chard)

• Fatty fish

• Garlic and onions

• Green tea

• Ginger

• Turmeric

• Nuts

• Oranges

• Tart cherries

What are your thoughts on an AI diet? Can it transform you from the inside out?

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Cook vegetables in healthy ways that will help bring out their natural flavors, including roasting, grilling, steaming and baking. You’ll need less salt (if any) and may even turn the most anti-veggie kid into a fan!

Daily Inspiration 

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