Most people associate inflammation with what the body does when it heals a wound. It is a normal, and healthy, response to tissue damage and toxins. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a precursor to almost every disease, including breast cancer. How can you tell if YOUR diet is setting you up for disease? Researchers at the University of South Carolina have created the new Dietary Inflammation Index (DII), a very helpful tool to have in your Healthy Breast toolbox.
Why is Lowering Inflammation So Important?
In order to really value what the DII does, it is important to know about the damage inflammation can do to your body in the first place. Chronic inflammation has been linked to most major diseases including diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis and almost all bowel-related conditions.
Its connection to cancer development is also well known. In fact, a unified “inflammation theory of disease” actually came into being with the discovery of the ras cancer cell gene and the role it plays in inflammation.
The common factor that 95% of all cancers have, is inflammation.
And according to the National Cancer Institute, inflammation functions at all three stages of tumor development: initiation, progression and metastasis. A study also sponsored by the NCI found that women with breast cancer who had elevated inflammatory markers in the blood had a poorer prognosis than those who did not.
After reading all this, the benefits of lowering inflammation should be pretty obvious — and it is really not that difficult. The first step is to make simple dietary changes from pro-inflammatory eating to an anti-inflammatory diet. Then if you add moving your body every day, getting enough quality sleep, and managing your stress, you are well on your way. These basic lifestyle tweaks can create dramatic changes in inflammation levels. With less inflammation, you can feel less pain and live a more vibrant life overall.
How Can the Dietary Inflammation Index Help?
The new Dietary Inflammation Index (DII) was created by researchers at the University of South Carolina as a way to assess the “inflammatory potential” of an individual by looking at their overall diet. In the study, researchers looked at over 2,000 research articles. They also analyzed information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in terms of dietary habits and certain pro-inflammatory markers. A main marker for inflammation is C-Reactive Protein (CRP). If you have not had your CRP levels checked yet, I highly recommend it. The test is easy and quick and can be ordered on our lab page. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read more about CRP and it’s relationship to breast cancer.
The U of SC researchers also took a look at different types of diets to determine which ones were the most pro-inflammatory as well as the most anti-inflammatory. It should come as no surprise that the diet that was the most pro-inflammatory (and thus the one most prone to cause disease) was the self-explanatory “fast food diet” of high-sugar, high carb, high trans-fat, processed foods. The most anti-inflammatory diets were the Mediterranean diet and the macrobiotic diet.
Versions of a DII have been used by researchers and policy makers to determine everything from telomere length to cancer risk. What makes the U of SC version exciting is that it now brings the DII down to earth so that “ordinary folks” can use it to determine their risk for disease. In fact, they have even created the “DII –Screener” app, currently available for both iPhone and Android. On the app, 25 simple questions can help you identify if you are eating a pro-inflammatory diet and thus are more at risk for disease. My score was -4.74 which is pretty darn good. What is yours?
Dr. Veronique Desaulniers (“Dr V”) is the founder of Breast Cancer Conqueror.com and The 7 Essentials System ™. This step-by-step guide empowers you with knowledge so you Never Have to Fear Breast Cancer Again! To watch a FREE webinar about the 7 steps for beating breast cancer naturally, Click Here.