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Anti-inflammatory vs. low glycemic foods: what’s better?

Posted Jun 02 2010 10:30am

We’ve written in this blog about sugar and its impact on immune health. Besides being a diabetes risk, high blood sugarapples in basket can also weaken immune system performance , dampening aggressive immune response when your body needs it, and disrupting healthy immune balance.  Connected to this sugar topic is the “ glycemic index .” This is a numeric rating given to foods that represents how fast the sugar content of a food is absorbed into your bloodstream. The lower the glycemic rating of a food, the better for you.

A baked potato, for example (no salt and butter, with skin) has an estimated glycemic rating of 29 , according to Nutrition Data, a great Web tool to quickly analyze nutrition value of all kinds of foods, including packaged food products.  That 29 is toward the low end of the glycemic scale, better than, say canned, sweetened cranberry, which scores a glycemic rating of 48.

By the same token, we’re now seeing foods rated on their “anti-inflammatory” qualities through an Inflammatory Factor (IF) rating.  A food with a negative IF number is considered as contributing to cellular inflammation in the body. A positive IF number means the food has low or anti-inflammatory properties, actually reducing inflammation. The IF index system was created by nutrition researcher Monica Reinagel . High inflammation in the body can mean an over-aggressive, unbalanced immune response and can lead to chronic health problems. Therefore, high-inflammatory foods can trigger an adverse immune response.

That baked potato has a bad IF rating:  -179. That cranberry is doubly bad, with an IF of -354 .

My question: What about foods that have an outstanding glycemic index value, but a terrible IF number? Or vice versa? One example is one of my favs: McDonalds’ Fruit ‘n’ Yogurt Parfait: a very good 12 GI, but a not-so-good -76 (mildly inflammatory) IF.  Should I err on the side of a high GI or a high IF?  Any thoughts out there?

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