Anti-inflammatory Diet

An Enhanced Form of the Mediterranean Diet: The Anti-inflammatory Diet

The anti-inflammatory (AI) diet is based on the Mediterranean diet which has some of the strongest evidence for health promotion of  all eating patterns.  The AI diet addresses the lack of attention to processed carbohydrates in the Mediterranean Diet and enhances the health benefits with anti-inflammatory spices (such as ginger and turmeric) and medicinal mushrooms.

Broadly the AI diet emphasizes the following foods:

  • abundant vegetables and fruit, (to get your anti-oxidants and other phytonutrients)
  • omega 3 fatty acids (mostly from cold water northern fish)
  • low glycemic index/glycemic load (to avoid bursts of insulin)

Aim for variety, including as much fresh food as possible and minimizing your processed foods and fast food.

Carbohydrates

  • Eat 7-9 servings a day of vegetables and fruits.  Emphasize vegetables over fruits. Use the dirty dozen and clean fifteen to help guide your choices. www.ewg.org
  • The majority of your carbohydrates should b less-refined, less-processed foods with low glycemic loads.
  • Eat more whole grains, beans, winter squashes, and sweet potatoes.
  • Avoid foods made with flour and sugar, especially bread, crackers, cereals, and most packaged snack foods (including chips and pretzels).  Flour – whether it is white or whole wheat is a high glycemic index food.
  • Enjoy pasta cooked al dente and brown rice
  • Avoid all products made with high-fructose corn syrup

Fat

  • For omega-3 fatty acids, eat salmon (preferably fresh or frozen wild or canned sockeye), sardines packed in water or olive oil, herring, black cod (sablefish, butterfish), omega-3 fortified eggs, flaxseeds (preferably freshly ground), and walnuts.
  • Include avocados, and nuts in your diet (especially walnuts, cashews, and almonds.)
  • Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main cooking oil.  For a neutral-tasting oil, use expeller-pressed- organic canola oil.
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fat by eating less butter, cream, cheese, and other dairy products.  Eat less chicken, fatty meats, and products made with palm kernel oils.
  • Avoid regular safflower and sunflower oils, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and mixed vegetable oils. Also avoid margarine, vegetable shortening, and all products listing them as ingredients.
  • Strictly avoid all products made with partially hydrogenated oils – they are a source of trans fats in the diet.

Protein

  • Eat more vegetable protein, especially from beans in general and soybeans in particular.
  • Decrease your consumption of animal protein except for fish
  • When choosing meat, organic, and grass finished lead to healthier fats in the meat.
  • When choosing chicken, organic removes arsenic from the chicken feed.
  • Use www.cornucopia.org to help you select the best dairy products and eggs.

Phytonutrients & Fiber

  • Include 40 grams of fiber a day in your diet.  This can come ground flax seed as well as from increasing your consumption of fruit, especially berries, vegetables (especially beans), and whole grains.
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms. Choose fruits and vegetables from all parts of the color spectrum especially berries, tomatoes, orange and yellow fruits, cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables, and dark leafy greens.
  • Choose organic produce whenever possible.  Learn which conventionally grown crops are most likely to carry pesticide residues (see www.foodnews.org) and avoid them.
  • Drink tea in addition to coffee, especially good-quality white, green, or oolong tea.
  • If you drink alcohol, use it sparingly.  Women achieve cardiovascular benefit (and avoid breast cancer risk) by consuming one drink per week; men achieve cardiovascular benefit from one drink per day.
  • Enjoy dark chocolate (with a minimum cocoa content of 70 percent) in moderation.

Beverages & Water

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of pure water a day or drinks that are mostly water (tea, very diluted fruit juice, sparkling water with lemon).
  • Get a home water purifier for your tap water