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Published Studies

Cowan, S. F., Leeming, E. R., Sinclair, A., Dordevic, A. L., Truby, H., & Gibson, S. J. (2020). Effect of whole foods and dietary patterns on markers of subclinical inflammation in weight-stable overweight and obese adults: a systematic review. Nutrition reviews, 78(1), 19-38. 

Reduction of subclinical inflammation is a potential target for chronic disease management. Adiposity is a known modifier of meta-inflammation; however, the influence of dietary factors is less clear. This review examines evidence from human trials evaluating effects of whole foods or dietary patterns on circulating inflammatory markers in weight-stable overweight and obese adults. It is the first review to investigate effects of diet on inflammation, independent of changes in adiposity. The Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Cochrane databases were searched. Data extraction was conducted using the Cochrane Collaboration Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Study quality was evaluated using the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias Assessment tool. Thirty-three studies were included assessing effects of 17 foods and dietary patterns on 39 inflammatory markers. Overall, foods and dietary patterns were not found to have significant effects on inflammatory markers in weight-stable individuals. Inconsistencies among studies were largely due to methodological limitations. Future research should invest in longer intervention periods and standardization of inflammatory marker panels paired with novel technologies, while ensuring anthropometric measures are monitored and adequately controlled are used.

Cowan, S., Sood, S., Truby, H., Dordevic, A., Adamski, M., & Gibson, S. (2020). Inflaming Public Interest: A Qualitative Study of Adult Learners’ Perceptions on Nutrition and Inflammation. Nutrients, 12(2), 345.

Research suggests national dietary guidelines are losing public resonance, with consumers actively seeking alternate nutrition advice from unregulated online platforms that often propagate misinformation. Improved diet quality can beneficially affect inflammation, and with science relating to nutrition and inflammation also appealing to consumers, this emerging topic provides an opportunity to consider how novel engagement strategies can be used to increase public support of expert-generated advice. This study aimed to qualitatively explore MOOC learners’ perceptions and experiences of following diets believed to help manage inflammation. Data were collected from an evidence-based nutrition-focused Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), which included a unit titled Foods and Inflammation. The Framework method was used to analyze 12,622 learner comments, taken from the MOOC’s online discussion forum and questionnaire. Learners identified avoidance of core food groups, such as dairy and grains, as key in managing inflammation. Dietary advice came mainly from the internet, and health professionals reportedly lacked an appreciation of the learners’ underlying nutrition knowledge, providing oversimplified advice that did not satisfy their scientific curiosity. To help build consumer trust and increase engagement, health professionals need to consider innovative education strategies that utilize novel topics such as nutrition and inflammation, in a safe and accurate manner.

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