Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The evidence that chronic inflammation may be in the genesis of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type-II diabetes, and certain types of cancer is increasing. It is suggested that lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption could influence the inflammatory state. Instead of focusing on single nutrient effects, we used a hypothesis-driven approach to food pattern studies, and constructed a diet quality index based on the Swedish Nutrition Recommendations and Swedish Dietary guidelines (DQI-SNR). The DQI-SNR consisted of 6 components. Individuals were assigned 0 when not adhering to a recommendation and 1 when adhering, resulting in total scores ranging from 0 to 6. We classified individuals in low (0 or 1 points), medium (2 or 3) and high (4-6 points) diet quality. We explored the association between the index scores and low-grade inflammation.
Our study indicates that adherence to a high quality diet is associated with lower systemic inflammation, as measured by several soluble and cellular biomarkers of inflammation, in middle-aged individuals. In other words, adherence to the general nutrition recommendations could help prevent the development of diseases associated with chronic inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effects of Mediterranean-like diets have been studied extensively, but this study focused on the Swedish dietary habits and recommendations for the Swedish population, and reached similar conclusions.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: The value of the general nutrition recommendations and the dietary guidelines in a healthy population goes beyond the sole prevention of CDV. Also, adherence to the recommendations is expected to improve the general health and wellbeing in many ways, not only to prevent chronic inflammation. It would be important to convey the message that Nordic foods and the Swedish Nutrition Recommendations, which are tailored to this specific population, appear to achieve similar health benefits as those found with Mediterranean diets.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We have reported previously that the DQI-SNR is associated with lower risk of overall and CVD-specific mortality, as well as with lower risk of CVD incidence in the same population. This suggests, together with the results of the current study, that a lower degree of systemic inflammation preceded by adherence to the dietary recommendations may protect against chronic diseases development and early mortality. More studies are needed to investigate this hypothesis and to replicate results in other populations.
A high quality diet is associated with reduced systemic inflammation in middle-aged individuals
Dias, Joana Alves et al.