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Does the Mediterranean Diet Protect against Stress-Induced Inflammatory Activation in European Adolescents? The HELENA Study

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Graduate Program in Human Nutrition, University of Brasília, Brasília 70910-900, Brazil
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Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
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International Agency for Research on Cancer, 69372 Lyon, France
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Department of Medical Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
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ICTAN-CSIC Spanish National Research Council, 28040 Madrid, Spain
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Department of Paediatrics, Medical School, University of Pécs, 7623 Pécs, Hungary
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Institut Pasteur de Lille, 59800 Lille, France
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Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, 17671 Athens, Greece
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Graduate Program in Medical-Sciences, Endocrinology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre 90035-003, Brazil
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GENUD (Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development) Research Group, 50013 Zaragoza, Spain
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Department of Clinical Pharmacology, William Harvey Research Institute, Barts and The London Hospital, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 4NS, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2018, 10(11), 1770; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111770
Received: 28 September 2018 / Revised: 1 November 2018 / Accepted: 10 November 2018 / Published: 15 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet)
Stress increases inflammation but whether adherence to Mediterranean diet counteracts this association and how early can these effects be observed is not well known. We tested whether (1) cortisol is associated to inflammation, (2) cortisol is associated to the adolescent Mediterranean diet score (aMDS), (3) aMDS lessens inflammation, (4) aMDS associates with cortisol levels and inflammation. Two hundred and forty-two adolescents (137 females; 12.5–17.5 years old) provided salivary cortisol, blood and 2-day 24-h dietary recall from which aMDS was derived. Cortisol levels were associated with increased tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α B = 11.887, p = 0.001) when adjusted for age, gender, parental education and body mass index (BMI). Moreover, cortisol levels were inversely associated to adherence to the Mediterranean Diet (B = −1.023, p = 0.002). Adolescents with higher adherence to aMDS had lower levels of interleukins (IL) IL-1, IL-2, IL-6 and TNF-α, compared to those who did not adhere. The association between cortisol and TNF-α was no longer significant when aMDS was included in the model (B = 6.118, p = 0.139). In addition, comparing lower and higher aMDS groups, the association between cortisol and TNF-α was only observed in those with lower aMDS adherence. Our study suggests that adherence to the Mediterranean Diet may counteract the effect of stress on inflammatory biomarkers which may contribute to decreasing the risk of future mental health. View Full-Text
Keywords: diet quality; depressive symptoms; risk factors; epidemiology; immune system; prevention; hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal-HPA axis diet quality; depressive symptoms; risk factors; epidemiology; immune system; prevention; hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal-HPA axis
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Carvalho, K.M.B.; Ronca, D.B.; Michels, N.; Huybrechts, I.; Cuenca-Garcia, M.; Marcos, A.; Molnár, D.; Dallongeville, J.; Manios, Y.; Schaan, B.D.; Moreno, L.; De Henauw, S.; Carvalho, L.A. Does the Mediterranean Diet Protect against Stress-Induced Inflammatory Activation in European Adolescents? The HELENA Study. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1770.

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