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Inflammation and flagging immune systems

The negative effects of chronic inflammation in our bodies explain why people who are overweight or have underlying health conditions have tended to fare worse with Covid-19 symptoms.

A recent report reveals the essential foods to keep inflammation in check and protect long-term immune health.

Entitled Inflammunity: How hidden inflammation is harming our immune response, the report was commissioned by the Fruit Juice Science Centre so it obviously suggests 100% fruit as part of the answer, but simply put it recommends following a Mediterranean diet.

“Evidence suggests that the high flavonoid content of a Mediterranean diet – which includes vitamin C-rich citrus fruits – plays a big part in the ability of this dietary pattern to lower inflammation,” says report author Dr Carrie Ruxton. “Flavonoids are a class of polyphenols, powerful plant compounds that are linked with good health across many different studies.”

Living in the shadow of Covid-19 for the past few years has brought our immune systems into sharper focus than ever. With inflammation a key driver of sluggish immune health, the report coins the catchy phrase “Inflammunity”.

Professor of Nutritional Immunology, Philip Calder, summarised: “The diet that seems to have the most support for lowering inflammation is the Mediterranean diet, which places a huge emphasis on fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, oily fish and just a little meat.”

A survey featured in the report reveals that just a quarter of Brits believe their immune system is very healthy. When asked what they believed chronic inflammation can lead to, just under a quarter (23%) of respondents said it can jeopardise immunity, a quarter (25%) said it affects the body's ability to fight infection, over a third (35%) said it can cause fatigue, and three in 10 (31%) said it can lead to poor metabolic health.

Over half (56%) of those questioned correctly identified that certain foods or drinks can stimulate inflammation in the body, while almost one in six (59%) believed healthier foods and drinks can calm down inflammation.

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