Stacey Frattinger, RD, CHFS, Certified Integrative Health Coach, currently resides in Sparks, NV. She owns a virtual health coaching and nutrition counseling practice, mainly focusing on one-on-one, individualized whole body wellness practices.
According to Dr. Weil, the Anti-Inflammatory Diet is not intended to serve as a weight loss diet, but rather to provide an eating plan to stay on for a lifetime. Dr. Weil’s belief is that you can eat your way to the reduction of age-related diseases by incorporating healthy doses of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber-rich fruits and veggies, plenty of water, and limited amounts of red meat and poultry. The simplest explanation of the diet revolves around the encouragement to eat as much “real” food as possible, while limiting the consumption of processed and pre-packaged foods; however, the guidelines are much more in depth and detailed than that. You can find Dr. Weil’s food guide pyramid at the following link for a better understanding of what foods to include as part of your diet, as well as a description of how frequently you should be consuming each of the food groups listed here.
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet was created by Dr. Andrew Weil, better known as a pioneer in the field of integrative healthcare and practitioner of natural and preventive medicine. Dr. Weil’s focus is on healing oriented health care, encompassing body, mind, and spirit, to help create living in a state of optimal health. Weil’s belief that certain foods cause or combat systemic inflammation led him to design the Anti-Inflammatory Diet, which incorporate his own version of the food guide pyramid. This diet aims to boost physical and mental health, while providing your body with a steady stream of energy. This new way of selecting and preparing foods is based upon his research related to how particular foods lead to the maintenance of optimum health status.
Dr. Weil’s nutritional approach to reducing inflammation greatly enhances the ease of following this plan, thus increasing compliance. Considering his meal plans encourage your caloric intake to stay between 2-3000 calories daily, you’ll have plenty of variety and flexibility to work with. Simply aim for plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lots of fish or fish-oil supplements, and you’ll be set.
In a nutshell, Dr. Weil’s hope is that you will design a diet that meets your nutritional needs, while providing pleasure and reinforcing your social and cultural identity. If this is your primary focus, you may find yourself spending just as much money with this plan compared to your current diet. However, you could also find yourself spending just a bit more at the grocery store on fresh ingredients, fatty fish, and spices known to help reduce inflammation. Just keep in mind, you aren’t required to purchase any special ingredients or buy the supplements recommended to experience the benefits of any anti-inflammatory diet plan.
Dr. Weil’s website is full of information on how to eat according to plan, as well as a number of recipes to test out. When first getting used to the meal preparation required, you may find yourself spending more time shopping for ingredients, then investing more time in cooking up your meals; however, once you learn how to streamline by cooking in bulk, and allowing for leftovers, you will find yourself with more time to spare. In addition, eating out is very doable with this plan, and many organic grocery stores have prepared, pre-packaged meals that will fit easily into his plan.
Overall, this eating plan is nutritionally sound principles, and appears free from any issues related to safety. The area that requires the greatest amount of caution, relates to Dr. Weil’s recommendations for using specific supplements along with this plan. Be sure to always talk with your doctor before taking any over the counter supplement, and remember, the FDA does not monitor supplements.
Evidence supporting the specific impact of food on inflammation within the body is limited. While it is well understood that some foods have the capacity to suppress inflammation, it is still unclear how often and how much of these specific foods are necessary to reduce inflammation. Though research is proving to be promising for the impact of foods such as fatty fish and berries on reducing chronic inflammation, anything touted as an anti-inflammatory cure is questionable.
Benefits: Along with reducing chronic inflammation, this dietary plan will provide your body with appropriate levels of vitamins and minerals, enhance your intake of essential fatty acids, improve your consumption of dietary fiber, and supply your cells with protective phytonutrients.
Downsides: If you go into this plan hoping to experience quick weight-loss, this plan will fall short. Think of this diet as more of a guide to help you develop a lifelong way of eating through designing your own plan without rigid meal plans to adhere to. The idea of designing your own plan might work well if you are self-motivated and are extremely interested in food and nutrition, but if you fall into the motivation department, you may find yourself feeling discouraged and maybe even a bit lost.
The Bottom Line: Though diet is important, there is so much more to the equation when you are working to reduce inflammation. If you really want to do everything possible to avoid issues with chronic inflammation, adjust your lifestyle goals to not only include a healthy diet that leads to the maintenance of a healthy weight, but also be sure to get adequate sleep and engage in regular physical activity.