Do pro-inflammatory diets harm our health? And can anti-inflammatory diets help? – Harvard Health Blog

Our emerging understanding of the role of inflammation in major chronic diseases has brought much attention to the effect of diet on the inflammatory process. Understanding the link may help us identify specific dietary patterns and foods than can diminish chronic inflammation and improve health.

Inflammation: Helpful, harmful, or both?

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is the body’s protective response to an injury or infection. For example, acute inflammation occurs when you cut your finger. Your body dispatches white blood cells to protect the area. You may see some swelling and redness and feel pain, but this process is critical to preventing infection.

Chronic inflammation may be triggered when the body tries to rid itself of harmful substances such as toxins from smoking. Increased levels of chronic inflammation are also associated with excess fat, especially around the abdomen.

Low-grade chronic inflammation may damage blood vessels, arteries, nerves, and the intestines. It can eventually lead to chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and some diseases of the bowel.

Can diet impact chronic inflammation?

Looking at markers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF- α), researchers have found that diet can influence inflammation. There is also a great deal of evidence showing that diet impacts the risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and diabetes. Is inflammation the means by which diet influences disease risk?

Pro-inflammatory diets may increase risk of cardiovascular disease

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) examined whether pro-inflammatory diets are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). (CVD includes non-fatal and fatal heart attack, and fatal and non-fatal stroke.) The researchers assessed the diets of more than 200,000 women and men enrolled in

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Making the most of physical activity apps – Harvard Health Blog

One of the best moves you can make for your health is to get moving. “Walking is man’s best medicine” is a well-known quote from Hippocrates. Centuries later, we have multiple research studies that reveal the power of exercise as medicine. One study specifically compared exercise to common medications for heart disease, stroke, and prediabetes, demonstrating that exercise can have comparable outcomes with regard to lowering risk of death. Recent research also highlights the impact that even short doses of exercise can have on your mood and increased creativity. However, as when you stop taking a medicine, if you stop exercising, the benefits stop as well.

Finding ways to make exercise fun and engaging is key

Most people know exercise is good for their health, yet only about half of Americans meet the physical activity guidelines to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.

These days, making exercise more fun can include using apps on your phone or a fitness tracker, as well as using social media sites. Research has demonstrated that there is a relationship between using commercial physical activity apps and increased engagement in exercise.

Do certain people respond more favorably to using exercise apps?

A recent study explored the psychological mechanisms that come into play when people use apps to increase their levels of exercise. Researchers surveyed 1,274 male and female adults between the ages of 18 and 83, asking them questions online at one specific point in time (also known as a cross-sectional study).

The results showed that feelings of social support, self-efficacy (the feeling that a person is competent at an activity and can be successful), identified regulation (the personal value one places on the outcomes of physical activity), and intrinsic motivation (internal feelings that are rewarding after exercise), as well as

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