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Cytokines & Diet

author image Ryan Devon
Ryan Devon is a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in nutrition and health promotion from Simmons College. He starting writing in 2010, specializing in weight management and eating-disorder science.
Cytokines & Diet
Salmon and other omega-3 rich foods may drop inflammation levels. Photo Credit Kuvona/iStock/Getty Images

Inflammation is a silent contributor to some of the world's most common chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and depression, according to a 2008 issue of "Scientific American." Cytokines -- the architects of your body's inflammation response -- are heavily influenced by the food in your diet. Consuming certain foods and avoiding others may help to control the activity of cytokines in your body.


In the Greek language, cytokines translates to "setting cells in motion." Cytokines are cells in your body that regulate immunity. They are especially important for regulating inflammation, a process that initially aids in healing after injury or infection. If inflammation becomes prolonged, however, it can result in tissue destruction and an increased risk of chronic disease, reports an article published in 2000 "News in Physiological Sciences." Certain foods in your diet largely dictate the activity and levels of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in your body.

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids are a healthy form of fat derived from marine life and certain plant foods, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats are precursors in the production of new cytokines. According to a 2008 article in "Lipids in Health and Disease," consuming inadequate omega-3 fats increases the production of cytokines from omega-6 fats, commonly found in vegetable oils. The cytokines derived from processes in your body that metabolize omega-6 fats are more likely to promote inflammation. Consume omega-3-rich fatty fish two times weekly, recommends the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are good sources of nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin E and dietary fiber. A study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2005 discovered that consuming eight or more daily servings of colorful vegetables for four weeks reduced the concentration of cytokines significantly. The authors note that the vegetable's antioxidants may help to reduce cytokine activity.

Trans Fats

Trans fat is a form of man-made fat found in hydrogenated oils and many baked goods. A research paper published in 2004 in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," discovered that women who ate the most trans fat had the highest levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in their blood when compared to women who avoided trans fat.

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