Diet Inflammatory Index: An explanation

Diet Inflammatory Index: An explanation
Photo by Robin Stickel / Unsplash

This abstract aims to understand the role of Diet Inflammation Index in assessing the effect of inflammation on individual’s health. What people eats bring good or a bad impact on their health.

What is Inflammation?

It is during any attack, when our body fights for it, inflammation helps the injured tissue from further infections and tries to heal it. It is basically a immune response. For example, a red bump and itching on our skin when a bug bites , a swollen skin or a minor cut from a knife. Apart from diseases, there are other things which trigger an inflammatory response namely; toxins, viruses, bacteria, allergies, foods etc.

Foods causing Inflammation?

Certain foods which trigger inflammatory response in the body cause mild to chronic diseases like cancer, heart diseases, arthritis, alzheimer’s, diabetes etc. Dietary factors which causes inflammation could be both pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory.

Sugar from processed foods, energy drinks, hydrogenated oils in snacks, chips, foods high in trans fat like, milk, fried foods, etc., saturated fats in cheese, butter, processed meats, alcohol more than seven drinks a week, refined carbs from bread, pasta, flour etc., cookies, cake, etc. create inflammatory cytokines in body, artificial sweeteners, MSGs in Chinese food, artificial coloring, ready to eat meals, etc cause inflammation in body. Inflammation can also caused by foods which are not well tolerated by your body. Foods with lower inflammation includes fruits, vegetables, fiber intake, Vitamin E and C intake, etc.

Dietary Inflammation Index

The idea first evolved during 2004, structured in 2009. It was the first attempt to create a dietary index linking any part of diet with inflammatory biomarkers. However, in this first attempt no dietary factors specified in advance. Thus, it did not gained any importance in biomedical community.

Original and new DII

Development of new Dietary Inflammation Index (DII) took dietary intake of 45 food parameters taking data sets from 11 countries namely Australia, India, Bahrain, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, United States of America and United Kingdom. Unlike the original DII this new DII followed more work and research, however it is still very complicated. This index has helped to establish a relation between dietary consumption and inflammation across various types of population (age, sex, body type, different types of body activities).

On the basis of the studies conducted using the DII, two important things came in picture:

  1. A tendency to eat more of everything. This leads to a positive correlation between energy intake and nutrients intake.
  2. There are healthy eaters (health conscious people who choose nutrient dense and energy sparse foods in preference to nutrient sparse and energy dense foods) and are unhealthy eaters (more common) (who eat giving preference to nutrient sparse and energy dense foods). Both these types of people shows that there is a negative correlation between energy density and nutrient density.

DII was created (after reviewing close to 2000 research articles) to measure the score for specific foods (45)which brings a positive or a negative effect on inflammation levels.

There were three types of diet assessed namely; fast food diet, the Mediterranean diet and the macrobiotic diet. Fast food rich diet contain higher saturated fats and low amount of fiber and vitamins. All this contributes to a pro-inflammatory scores. Studies suggest chronic low grade inflammation is particularly common among obese population. Macrobiotic diet have low amount of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

On the contrary there is a Mediterranean diet; high in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, fish, low red meat and medium alcohol intake and high intake of olive oil stands low on inflammatory grounds. Also the use of spices, herbs in their diet contributes to a low DII score.

There were research done in countries using new DII. For example a group in Spain (youths) have ranged their DII score from -6.7 to + 7.8 using 23 food parameters. The problem with this study or others were many. As, DII is based on the number of published research and literature, there can be biases in findings. Diet along with other factors like stress and physical activity together can be integrated in DII to derive more promising results.

Diet Inflammatory Index: An explanation
By Neeti Goutam, Strategic Lead, Communications, Sanrachana