Dietary factors and biomarkers of systemic inflammation in older people: the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936

Janie Corley, Janet A M Kyle, John M Starr, Geraldine McNeill, Ian J Deary

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Epidemiological studies have reported inverse associations between various single healthy diet indices and lower levels of systemic inflammation, but rarely are they examined in the same sample. The aim of the present study was to investigate the potential relationships between biomarkers of systemic inflammation (C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen) and overall foods (dietary patterns), single foods (fruits and vegetables), and specific nutritive (antioxidants) and non-nutritive (flavonoids) food components in the same narrow-age cohort of older adults. The dietary intake of 792 participants aged 70 years from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 was assessed using a 168-item FFQ. Models were adjusted for age, sex, childhood cognitive ability, lifestyle factors and history of disease. Using logistic regression analyses, CRP (normal v. elevated) was favourably associated (at P< 0·05) with the 'health-aware' (low-fat) dietary pattern (unstandardised β = (0·200, OR 0·82, 95 % CI 0·68, 0·99) and fruit intake (unstandardised β = (0·100, OR 0·91, 95 % CI 0·82, 0·99), including flavonoid-rich apples (unstandardised β = (0·456, OR 0·63, 95 % CI 0·439, 0·946). Using linear regression analyses, fibrinogen (continuous) was inversely associated (at P< 0·05) with the Mediterranean dietary pattern (standardised β = (0·100), fruit intake (standardised β = (0·083), and combined fruit and vegetable intake (standardised β = (0·084). We observed no association between food components (antioxidant nutrients or specific flavonoid subclasses) and inflammatory markers. In the present cross-sectional study, nutrient-dense dietary patterns were associated with lower levels of systemic inflammation in older people. The results are consistent with dietary guidelines that promote a balanced diet based on a variety of plant-based foods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088-1098
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Early online date7 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Date of Acceptance: 18/05/2015

The authors thank the LBC1936 participants and study team.
They also thank Shirley Jia, Leone Craig and Heather Clark at the University of Aberdeen for performing the FFQ dietary data extraction.
The present study was funded by the Age UK’s Disconnected Mind project. The work was undertaken in the University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, part of the cross-council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (MR/K026992/1). The authors gratefully acknowledge the funding from the Biotechnology and Diet and inflammation in later life 1095 British Journal of Nutrition Biological Sciences Research Council and Medical Research Council.


  • dietary patterns
  • inflamation
  • FFQ
  • cognitive ability


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