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The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

2 weeks ago / by Pratika Yashaswi

How to make it part of your lifestyle

Healthy ingredients for a meal
Healthy ingredients for a meal. Shutterstock

The anti-inflammatory diet has been gaining popularity over the last few years. Introduced by Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, the anti-inflammatory diet aims at maintaining health, improving energy levels, and most importantly, combating inflammation. He claims: “Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help counteract the chronic inflammation that is a root cause of many serious diseases, including those that become more frequent as people age. It is a way of selecting and preparing foods based on science that can help people achieve and maintain optimum health over their lifetime.”

The diet plan involves a food pyramid that indicates healthy food items that help combat inflammation. Followers of the Mediterranean, DASH or satvic diets might find commonalities with it.

According to Weil, learning how specific food influences the inflammation process can help people reduce long-term disease risk. An article in Frontiers in Nutrition shows that an anti-inflammatory diet can help people with rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. Following this diet, Weil says, you’ll get steady energy, combat inflammation, and live healthily for years.

Ideally, the diet favors a high intake of fruits and vegetables, reduced dairy and red meat, and swearing off processed foods. You’ll want to choose foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and consume about 2,000-3,000 calories each day (though this is not a hard rule), depending on activity level, age, and gender. The distribution of calories should be 20-30% from protein, 30% from fats, and 40-50% from carbohydrates.

Diet alone does not make your health. Daily exercising, drinking lots of water and getting enough sleep will improve the overall benefits of the diet. The anti-inflammatory diet also recommends adding supplements and vitamins to everyday lifestyle.

What to Do

Here are a few ways to incorporate the anti-inflammatory diet into your lifestyle:

  1. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should make up most of the carbohydrates on the anti-inflammatory diet. Berries are the best fruit that can reduce inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, and slow down metabolic processes. Dr. Weil recommends choosing specifically whole grains instead of whole-wheat bread or products made from whole-wheat flour.
  1. Consume monounsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, and extra-virgin olive oil. Meanwhile, use animal fats sparingly, or avoid them altogether. Cut down on cream, butter, unskinned chicken, fatty meals, etc., and avoid corn, safflower, sunflower, and mixed vegetable oil. Take around 5-7 servings of healthy fats daily.
  1. Fiber is the staple of anti-inflammatory and Mediterranean diets. Consumption of legumes like lentils, peas, and beans reduces inflammation and offers protection against certain cancers. Ready-made cereals are an excellent fiber source. However, you should read labels and ensure you get 4-5 grams of bran per one-ounce serving.
  1. Incorporating herbs and spices is a must, as they possess anti-inflammatory properties. For example, studies have found that consuming ginger can alleviate vomiting and nausea, while cinnamon’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help in cancer therapy.
  1. Consume appropriate amounts of protein in your daily diet to maintain muscle mass, and focus on vegetable protein, especially soybeans and animal protein. Consumption of animal protein should be minimized as far as possible to high-quality natural cheese, yogurt, and fish.

The Weil Solution

Dr. Weil recommends calories should be consumed within an 11-hour window. That is, the overnight 13 hours should be considered a fasting period to repair cells, recalibrate immunity, and replenish the body’s capacity for antioxidants. 

All the foods outlined in the anti-inflammatory diet work to combat body inflammation. You can alter the diet depending on the medical requirements, personal food preferences, and what you’re looking for in a diet. 

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging: Your Online Guide to the Anti-inflammatory Diet reveals some of the best resources to improve health and well-being. But remember, you need to follow the diet plan for months before you can expect positive changes.