Chronic Inflammation in the Context of Everyday Life: Dietary Changes as Mitigating Factors

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jun 10;17(11):4135. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17114135.


The lifestyle adopted by most people in Western societies has an important impact on the propensity to metabolic disorders (e.g., diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases). This is often accompanied by chronic low-grade inflammation, driven by the activation of various molecular pathways such as STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3), IKK (IκB kinase), MMP9 (matrix metallopeptidase 9), MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinases), COX2 (cyclooxigenase 2), and NF-Kβ (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells). Multiple intervention studies have demonstrated that lifestyle changes can lead to reduced inflammation and improved health. This can be linked to the concept of real-life risk simulation, since humans are continuously exposed to dietary factors in small doses and complex combinations (e.g., polyphenols, fibers, polyunsaturated fatty acids, etc.). Inflammation biomarkers improve in patients who consume a certain amount of fiber per day; some even losing weight. Fasting in combination with calorie restriction modulates molecular mechanisms such as m-TOR, FOXO, NRF2, AMPK, and sirtuins, ultimately leads to significantly reduced inflammatory marker levels, as well as improved metabolic markers. Moving toward healthier dietary habits at the individual level and in publicly-funded institutions, such as schools or hospitals, could help improving public health, reducing healthcare costs and improving community resilience to epidemics (such as COVID-19), which predominantly affects individuals with metabolic diseases.

Keywords: COVID-19; diet; fasting; inflammation; polyphenols; real-life risk simulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / immunology*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / diet therapy
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diet therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Metabolic Diseases / diet therapy
  • Metabolic Diseases / immunology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / prevention & control
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diet therapy
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • Primary Prevention
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • SARS-CoV-2