Associations of Dietary Intake on Biological Markers of Inflammation in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review.

Nutrients. 2021;13(2)

Plain language summary

Inflammation is the normal physiological response to injury in the body and is designed to protect the host. However, in children and adolescents, chronic low-grade inflammation has been linked to a wide range of conditions. Certain markers in the blood can be measured and used to determine levels of inflammation in the body. This review of 53 studies provides the first evidence for the association between dietary intake and biological markers of inflammation in children and adolescents. Results show that adhering to a healthy way of eating such as the Mediterranean diet, are associated with decreased levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers. The Western Dietary pattern, as well as intake of ultra-processed foods is associated with higher levels of the same pro-inflammatory markers. A good quality diet, high in fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, fibre and healthy fats ameliorates low-grade inflammation, and therefore represents a potential therapeutic approach. It is also an important element for disease prevention in both children and adolescents.

Abstract

BACKGROUND In children and adolescents, chronic low-grade inflammation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of co- and multi-morbid conditions to mental health disorders. Diet quality is a potential mechanism of action that can exacerbate or ameliorate low-grade inflammation; however, the exact way dietary intake can regulate the immune response in children and adolescents is still to be fully understood. METHODS Studies that measured dietary intake (patterns of diet, indices, food groups, nutrients) and any inflammatory biomarkers in children and adolescents aged 2 to19 years and published until November 2020 were included in this systematic review, and were selected in line with PRISMA guidelines through the following databases: Academic Search Complete, CINAHL, Global Health, Medline COMPLETE and Web of Science-Core Collection. A total of 53 articles were identified. RESULTS Results show that adequate adherence to healthful dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet, or food groups such as vegetables and fruit, or macro/micro nutrients such as fibre or vitamin C and E, are associated with decreased levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers, mainly c-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), whereas adherence to a Western dietary pattern, as well as intake of food groups such as added sugars, macro-nutrients such as saturated fatty acids or ultra-processed foods, is associated with higher levels of the same pro-inflammatory biomarkers. CONCLUSIONS This is the first systematic review examining dietary intake and biological markers of inflammation in both children and adolescents. A good quality diet, high in vegetable and fruit intake, wholegrains, fibre and healthy fats ameliorates low-grade inflammation, and therefore represents a promising therapeutic approach, as well as an important element for disease prevention in both children and adolescents.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Inflammation
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Stress and resilience
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article ; Systematic Review

Metadata

Nutrition Evidence keywords : Mediterranean diet ; DASH diet