Ok, so there are lots and lots of diets out there: low fat, high protein, low carb, raw food, vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian…and the list goes on. There are diets for losing weight, diets to benefit certain diseases, diets to suit certain beliefs and lifestyles, diets for body types, diets to help fight aging and disease.
Say what!? There is a diet that helps to combat signs of aging and possibly even ward off disease? That is the claim of those touting the anti-inflammatory diet.
Chronic inflammation is thought to be the root cause of many diseases (like heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s), health issues (migraine, arthritis) and even aging. So what causes inflammation? Inflammation is bodily tissue reacting to irritation, injury or infection. When this inflammation is prolonged past the point of recovery it can cause damage and illness. As stated on Dr. Weil’s website: “Stress, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxins” can all contribute to chronic inflammation. It goes on to say that diet can also play a large role, and I will go out on a limb to guess that the toxins in conventional cosmetics don’t help either.
Dr. Weil’s general tips on eating an anti-inflammatory diet are:
- Aim for variety
- Include as much fresh food as possible
- Minimize your consumption of processed foods and fast foods
- Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables
He goes on to lay down the specifics on his plan. The terms are rather lengthy, with requirements on calories, fat, protein, fiber, and carb intake and even includes a Food Pyramid specifically for the plan. He also explains the importance of getting enough phytonutrients. These antioxidants fight free radicals which set disease and premature aging in motion.
Dr. Perricone says that “age-related changes” may actually be reversed (!) by eating foods high in these antioxidants. Brightly hued fruits and veg are packed with them, as are dark leafy greens, cabbage and cauliflower.
Something I was surprised to learn is that wheat is pretty much equal to white flour in terms of inflammation. So, Dr. Weil recommends laying off of wheat and replacing it with brown rice or bulgar wheat.
My main reason for checking into this diet was to quell my headaches, but turning back the clock on my skin and fighting potential disease sounds pretty good too. The main draw back as far as I can tell? Switching out coffee for tea. Maybe if I eat plenty of the anti-inflammatories the one cup o’ joe won’t do too much damage…
Do you follow an anti-inflammatory diet? If so, please share your results with us. We’d love to know if you feel and look like a million bucks!
[Image: elana’s pantry at Flickr.com, Creative Commons license]