As I was preparing a talk for a group of seniors on managing arthritis, I came across a great resource on the anti-inflammatory diet on Dr. Andrew Weil's website. It's a visual depiction of the diet as a food pyramid, very similar to other food guides you may have seen.
Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid – What Is It?
It is a practical eating guide that consumers of all ages can use, with tips on how to reduce risks of age-related diseases and improve overall health through diet.
It is an interactive educational graphic to help today’s families prevent disease while eating well.
It is a simple tool that promotes optimum health and healthy aging by providing dietary advice that addresses inflammation.
What Does An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Do?
The anti-inflammatory diet is a blueprint for a lifetime of optimum nutrition. Simple changes in how you eat can help counteract chronic inflammation, a root cause of many serious diseases, including:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases
- Age-related disorders, including many cancers
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
HEALTHY SWEETS How much: Sparingly. Healthy choices: Unsweetened dried fruit, dark chocolate, fruit sorbet, Why: 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 How much: Optional, no more than 1-2 glasses per day, Healthy choices: Organic red wine Why: Red wine has beneficial antioxidant activity. Limit intake to no more than 1-2 servings per day. If you do not drink alcohol, do not start.
TEA How much: 2-4 cups per day, Healthy choices: White, green, oolong teas, Why: Tea is rich in catechins, antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation. Purchase high-quality tea and learn how to correctly brew it for maximum taste and health benefits.
HEALTHY HERBS & SPICES How much: Unlimited amounts, Healthy choices: Turmeric, curry powder (which contains turmeric), ginger and garlic (dried and fresh), chili peppers, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, Why: Use these herbs and spices generously to season foods. Turmeric and ginger are powerful, natural anti-inflammatory agents.
OTHER SOURCES OF PROTEIN How much: 1-2 servings a week (one portion is equal to 1 ounce of cheese, 1 eight-ounce serving of dairy, 1 egg, 3 ounces cooked poultry or skinless meat)Healthy choices: Natural cheeses, lowfat yogurt, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, grass-fed lean meats, Why: In general, 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, reduced-fat dairy products moderately, especially yogurt and natural cheeses such as Emmental (Swiss), Jarlsberg and true Parmesan. If you eat eggs, choose omega-3 enriched eggs (made by feeding hens a flax-meal-enriched diet), or organic eggs from free-range chickens.
COOKED ASIAN MUSHROOMS How much: Unlimited amounts, Healthy choices: Shiitake, enokidake, maitake, oyster mushrooms (and wild mushrooms if available) Why: These mushrooms contain compounds that enhance immune function. Never eat mushrooms raw, and minimize consumption of common commercial button mushrooms (including crimini and portobello).
WHOLE SOY FOODS How much: 1-2 servings per day (one serving is equal to ½ cup tofu or tempeh, 1 cup soymilk, ½ cup cooked edamame, 1 ounce of soynuts), Healthy choices: Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, soymilk, Why: 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 & SEAFOOD How much: 2-6 servings per week (one serving is equal to 4 ounces of fish or seafood), Healthy choices: Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod (sablefish), Why: 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, 2-3 grams per day.
HEALTHY FATS How much: 5-7 servings per day (one serving is equal to 1 teaspoon of oil, 2 walnuts, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed, 1 ounce of avocado) Healthy choices: For cooking, use extra virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed organic canola oil. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts (especially walnuts), 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. High-oleic sunflower or safflower oils may also be used, as well as walnut and hazelnut oils in salads and dark roasted sesame oil as a flavoring for soups and stir-fries, Why: Healthy fats are those rich in either monounsaturated or omega-3 fats. Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols with antioxidant activity and canola oil contains a small fraction of omega-3 fatty acids.
WHOLE & CRACKED GRAINS How much: 3-5 servings a day (one serving is equal to about ½ cup cooked grains), Healthy choices: Brown rice, basmati rice, wild rice, buckwheat, groats, barley, quinoa, steel-cut oats Why: Whole grains digest slowly, reducing frequency of spikes in blood sugar that promote inflammation. ? Whole grains? means grains that are intact or in a few large pieces, not whole wheat bread or other products made from flour. PASTA (al dente), How much: 2-3 servings per week (one serving is equal to about ½ cup cooked pasta). Healthy choices: Organic pasta, rice noodles, bean thread noodles, and part whole wheat and buckwheat noodles like Japanese udon and soba, Why: Pasta cooked al dente (when it has ?tooth? to it) has a lower glycemic index than fully-cooked pasta. Low-glycemic-load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize spikes in blood glucose levels.
BEANS & LEGUMES How much: 1-2 servings per day (one serving is equal to ½ cup cooked beans or legumes). Healthy choices: Beans like Anasazi, adzuki and black, as well as chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils. Why: 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.
SUPPLEMENTS How much: Daily Healthy choices: High quality multivitamin/multimineral that includes key antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and selenium); co-enzyme Q10; 2-3 grams of a molecularly distilled fish oil; 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 Why: Supplements help fill any gaps in your diet when you are unable to get your daily requirement of micronutrients. Click here to learn more about supplements and get your free recommendation.
VEGETABLES How much: 4-5 servings per day minimum (one serving is equal to 2 cups salad greens, ½ cup vegetables cooked, raw or juiced). 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. Why: 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.
FRUITS How much: 3-4 servings per day (one serving is equal to 1 medium size piece of fruit, ½ cup chopped fruit, ¼ cup of dried fruit). 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. Go for a wide range of colors, choose fruit that is fresh in season or frozen, and buy organic when possible.
WATER How much: Throughout the day. Healthy choices: Use purified water or beverages made with purified water, such as unsweetened tea, sparkling water, or water with a small amount of fruit juice for flavor. Why: Water is vital for overall functioning of the body.
Doctor Jackie's Blog
A place for me to share my own experiences as an ND & Mom, things I find interesting in the world of wellness & medicine, share recipes, health tips and home/DIY self care ideas. Between 2012 & 2016 I got married, moved twice and had two kids! But I'm back and have SO much to share with you now. Becoming a mom has completely changed my world and my practice. Stay tuned for lots more from me :)