Reducing inflammation is easier than you think. Here we explore Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet. By eating these foods, you lower your risk of inflammation and improve your overall health.
Healthy Sweets, use them sparingly.
Healthy Choices: Unsweetened dried fruit, dark chocolate, fruit sorbet. Why dark chocolate? Dark chocolate provides polyphenols with antioxidant activity. Choose dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa and have an ounce a few times a week. Fruit sorbet is a better option than other frozen desserts.
Red Wine, no more than 1 to 2 glasses per day
Healthy choices: Organic red wine. Red wine has beneficial antioxidant activity. Limit intake to no more than 1 to 2 servings per day. If you do not drink alcohol, do not start.
Supplements, take them daily.
Healthy choices: High quality multivitamin that includes key antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and selenium); coenzyme Q10; 2 to 3 grams of a molecularly distilled fish oil; 2,000 IU of vitamin D3. Supplements help fill gaps in your diet when you are unable to get your daily requirement of micronutrients. Learn more about supplements and get your free recommendation.
Tea, about 2 to 4 cups per day
Healthy choices: White, green, oolong teas. Tea is rich in antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation. Purchase high-quality tea and learn how to brew it correctly for maximum taste and health benefits.
Healthy Herbs and Spices, consume in unlimited amounts.
Healthy choices: Turmeric, curry powder (which contains turmeric), ginger and garlic (dried and fresh), chili peppers, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, and thyme. Use these herbs and spices generously to season foods. Turmeric and ginger are powerful natural anti-inflammatory agents.
Other Sources of Protein, 1 to 2 servings a week.
Healthy choices: High-quality natural cheese and yogurt, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, and grass-finished lean meats . Try to reduce consumption of animal foods. If you eat chicken, choose organic, cage-free chicken and remove the skin and associated fat. Use organic, high-quality dairy products moderately, primarily yogurt and natural cheeses. If you eat eggs, choose omega-3-enriched eggs (from hens that are fed a flax-meal-enriched diet) or organic eggs from free-range chickens.
Cooked Asian Mushrooms, consume unlimited amounts.
Healthy choices: Shiitake, enokitake, maitake, oyster mushrooms (and wild mushrooms if available). These mushrooms contain compounds that enhance immune function. Never eat mushrooms raw, and minimize consumption of common commercial button mushrooms (including cremini and Portobello).
Whole-Soy Foods, 1 to 2 servings per day.
Healthy choices: Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, and soymilk. Soy foods contain isoflavones that have antioxidant activity and are protective against cancer. Choose whole-soy foods over fractionated foods like isolated soy-protein powders and imitation meats made with soy isolate.
Fish and Shellfish, about 2 to 6 servings per week.
Healthy choices: Wild Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines, and black cod. These fish are rich in omega-3 fats, which are strongly anti-inflammatory. If you choose not to eat fish, take a molecularly distilled fish-oil supplement that provides both EPA and DHA in a dose of 2-3 grams per day.
Healthy Fats, anywhere between 5 to 7 servings daily.
Healthy choices: For cooking, use extra-virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed grapeseed oil. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts, avocados, and seeds, including hemp seeds and freshly ground flaxseed. Omega-3 fats are also found in cold-water fish, omega-3 enriched eggs, and whole-soy foods. Organic, expeller-pressed, high-oleic sunflower or safflower oils may also be used, as well as walnut and hazelnut oils in salads. Healthy fats are those rich in either monounsaturated or omega-3 fats. Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols with antioxidant activity.
Whole And Cracked Grains, 3 to 5 servings a day.
Healthy choices: Brown rice, basmati rice, wild rice, buckwheat groats, barley, quinoa, steel-cut oats. Whole grains digest slowly, reducing frequency of spikes in blood sugar that promote inflammation. Whole grains mean grains that are intact or in a few large pieces, not whole-wheat bread or other products made from flour.
Pasta (Al Dente), 2 to 3 servings per week.
Healthy choices: Organic pasta, rice noodles, bean-thread noodles, and part whole-wheat and buckwheat noodles like Japanese udon and soba. Pasta cooked al dente (when it has “tooth” to it) has a lower glycemic index than fully cooked pasta. Low-glycemicload carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize spikes in blood glucose levels.
Beans and Legumes, 1 to 2 servings per day.
Healthy choices: Beans like Anasazi, adzuki and black, as well as chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils Beans are rich in folic acid, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber. They are a low-glycemic-load food. Eat them well cooked either whole or pureed into spreads like hummus.
How much: 4 to 5 servings per day.
Healthy choices: Lightly cooked dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, Swiss chard), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cauliflower), carrots, beets, onions, peas, squashes, sea vegetables and washed raw salad greens. Vegetables are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Go for a wide range of colors, eat them both raw and cooked, and choose organic when possible.
How much: 3 to 4 servings per day.
Healthy choices: Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears – all lower in glycemic load than most tropical fruits. Why: Fruits are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
How much: Throughout the day
Healthy choices: Drink pure water or drinks that are mostly water (unsweetened tea, very diluted fruit juice, sparkling water with lemon). Water is vital for overall functioning of the body.
By following the eating habits identified in this article, you’ll be feeding your body the nutrients essential for good health and minimize any potential inflammation in your body. Before starting any diet or exercise program, please see your doctor. For more information on the Dr. Andrew Weil food pyramid, click here.