The rising incidence of chronic inflammatory disease is an increasing concern in the western world. A strong connection between dietary intake and inflammatory markers has emerged over the last 50 years. There is a connection between inflammation and the progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Certain nutritional markers, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, exacerbate cardiovascular risk – possibly due to diet’s effect on inflammatory processes. This study aimed to investigate the effect of nutritional status on both inflammatory and cardiovascular risk markers and the link between inflammation and cardiovascular risk independently from diet. Student participants from the University of Lincoln self-reported their diet for one week using MyFitnessPal, subsequent to undergoing anthropomorphic and haemodynamic measurements. Results were categorised based on blood pressure readings and similar categories were created for body fat percentages. Serum analysis was carried out for the measurement of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), ferritin and serum cholesterol. Results demonstrated that increased dietary intake of sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat raised blood pressure levels (sodium: H(3) =13.7, p=0.00335) (cholesterol: H(3) =8.99, p=0.0294) (saturated fat: H(3) =9.28, p=0.0258). Consumption of saturated fat was also found to impact levels of serum ferritin, an inflammatory marker (t(69) = 4.61, p= 1.78 x 10-5). A link between serum ferritin and blood pressure was determined (H(3)=7.86, p=0.0491 ). A link between serum hs-CRP and body fat percentage was also determined (H(3)=8.53, p=0.0363). These results verify the link between diet, increased cardiovascular risk, inflammation and also establish evidence of said inflammatory markers exacerbating cardiovascular risk. Linking all three of these variables demonstrates the causal sequence diet can give rise to in terms of inflammation and cardiovascular risk, even in a population of relatively young and healthy university students.
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