Are you doing damage with an Inflammatory Diet?
What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
The anti-inflammatory diet (similar to the Mediterranean Diet) is not a fad or trend and it is not intended as a weight loss program, although many people can and usually do lose weight on it. The anti-inflammatory diet is made up of certain anti- inflammatory foods that are recommended to help your body maintain optimum health through scientific knowledge. Dr. Weil recommends that the anti-inflammatory diet should not be a temporary diet but rather a permanent lifestyle change to becoming a healthier you!
Anti- Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Where do I begin when changing my diet?
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet consists of the foods in the above pyramid. Here are some simple tips than can help you incorporate these types of foods into your everyday diet.
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables – the two largest blocks on the pyramid are the ones for fruits and vegetables. Vegetables should be consumed at a minimum of 4-5 servings a day but it is encouraged to incorporate larger servings or up to 9 servings a day. Vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked and paired with a lean protein and whole grain can make for a complete nutritional meal! Try sautéing some fresh spinach, squash and zucchini with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and garlic for a healthy side dish. Fruits are full of natural antioxidants and should be consumed 3-4 times a day. Try adding some frozen berries to a smoothie or half of a banana in a hearty bowl of oatmeal!
2. Eat whole grains- Some examples of whole grains are, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread, pasta or crackers. If you are unsure about bread, pasta or crackers being 100% whole wheat or whole grain, always check the ingredient label. If the label’s first ingredient states “whole grain wheat flour” and not “enriched wheat flour” you are safe. These whole grains can be consumed 3-5 servings a day, a reasonable serving of whole grains is a slice of whole wheat bread, ½ cup of oatmeal or 1 ounce of uncooked brown rice.
*What about pasta? Pasta can be consumed 2-3 times a week and should be cooked al dente, which means not fully cooked and still a little bit hard in the middle. Al dente pasta has a lower glycemic index compared to fully cooked pasta therefore it can help manage your blood glucose levels from spiking.
3. Eat a variety of healthy fats- extra virgin olive oil, almonds, walnuts; freshly ground flaxseed, avocados, salmon and cod are all examples of healthy fats and proteins!
4. Eat more soy- Some healthy soy foods that provide protein are, edamame, soymilk and tofu. Edamame and tofu are great alternatives for vegetarians and can be a way to replace meat when trying to fulfill daily protein requirements. Try some freshly steamed edamame with a bit of sea salt for a tasteful appetizer!
5. Know your protein- there is a variety of nutritious foods that provide protein. When choosing a type of protein to add to your meal, try to reduce your overall intake of animal foods. When eating chicken, skinless cage-free organic is your best option and don’t forget to trim the fat! Eat dairy products in moderation, such as high quality cheeses, yogurt, omega 3 enriched eggs and grass fed lean meat when possible.
6. Get familiar with cooked Asian mushrooms- Shiitake, enokidake, maitake, and oyster mushrooms can enhance your immune function. Minimize your consumption of commercialized mushrooms such as portabello and crimini.
7. Spice it up! – Adding spices such as turmeric, ginger, curry, garlic, chilli peppers, basil, cinnamon and thyme can aid in flavor and they all have natural anti-inflammatory agents.
8. Replace your morning coffee with tea- Green tea and white tea are rich in antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation.
What are the Health Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
When following an ant-inflammatory diet it can help prevent or treat the following conditions,
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Heart disease
- Crohn's disease
SIZE Does Matter!
Portion size plays a huge part when choosing a healthy, balanced meal. Below are some images to help guide you through the correct amount of serving size you should have for each food group…