This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have published the results of a study showing that a diet rich in slowly digested carbohydrates, such as leafy green vegetables, legumes and other high-fiber foods, significantly reduces markers of inflammation associated with the onset of chronic disease.
The work, reported in The Journal of Nutrition, explains that a diet rich in high-fiber foods significantly improves insulin signaling and resistance that promote life-shortening diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia.
Monitoring the glycemic load of different foods lowers the risk of blood glucose spikes and also increases a hormone that helps regulate the metabolism of fat and sugar. Health-minded individuals will want to ensure they eat between 30 and 50 grams of fiber from a variety of food sources each day to control systemic inflammation and lower disease risk.
Low-Glycemic Diet Lowers Inflammatory Blood Marker
The random controlled study involved 80 healthy men and women selected from the Seattle area. Half were considered to be of normal weight, and the other half were overweight or obese as measured on a standardized BMI scale.
Researchers found that among overweight and obese study participants, a low-glycemic-load diet reduced a biomarker of inflammation called C-reactive protein by about 22 percent.
Other studies in the past have suggested a correlation between dietary carbohydrate and sugar consumption as measured by the glycemic index of foods and systemic inflammation. This research is important because the C-reactive protein is associated with an increased risk for many cancers and cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Marian Neuhouser, the study’s lead author and a member of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center, noted, “Lowering inflammatory factors is important for reducing a broad range of health risks. Showing that a low-glycemic-load diet can improve health is important for the millions of Americans who are overweight or obese.”
Low-Glycemic Foods Protect Against Chronic Diseases
Neuhouser and her team also found that increasing low-glycemic load foods in the participants’ diet by just 5 percent resulted in increased blood levels of a protein hormone called adiponectin. The hormone is known to protect against a number of different cancer lines, as well as metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and hardening of the arteries.
Therefore, it is important to avoid processed carbohydrates and sugar-laden foods while increasing dietary fiber.
“Whenever possible, choose carbohydrates that are less likely to cause rapid spikes in blood glucose… These types of low-glycemic-load carbs include whole grains; legumes such as kidney beans, soy beans, pinto beans and lentils; milk; and fruits such as apples, oranges, grapefruit and pears,” Neuhouser said.
This study provides another chapter to the growing body of research that demonstrates the importance of dietary choices to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes and most chronic illnesses.
 Neuhouser M et al. A Low-Glycemic Load Diet Reduces Serum C-Reactive Protein and Modestly Increases Adiponectin in Overweight and Obese Adults. J. Nutr. 2012. doi:10.3945/jn.111.149807.
 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Diet rich in slowly digested carbs reduces markers of inflammation in overweight and obese adults. ScienceDaily. 2012 Jan 11. http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2012/01/120111154043.htm.