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Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

Updated on February 9, 2013

Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory food pyramid linked here is really how we all should eat.

Chronic low-grade inflammation is a silent condition that causes many diseases in the body. Inflammation is used by the immune system to fight off infections. However, when our immune system is mis-regulated or when we eat too much pro-inflammatory foods or when we are chronically stressed or other reasons, then our body has a chronic low-grade inflammation that persists long after it should have been turned off. This inflammatory condition is linked to arthritis (inflammation of the joints), Alzheimer's (inflammation of the brain), and others disorders.

To make matters worst, we are eating too many pro-inflammatory foods and not enough anti-inflammatory food.

Many restaurants don't even have kale on the menu. Some restaurants may actually serve you some broccoli, but only as a tiny side dish next to a big steak. That's not healthy, it should be the other way around. Broccoli should be the main course with it filling most of the plate. And then maybe you can have a tiny side portion of chicken or turkey next to it. But the meat really should be smaller than the vegetable portion. This is the way a healthy meal should look like. Sometime, the only way to get that is if one cooks it at home.

I know you won't believe me, because that concept is so foreign. So let's look again at Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory food pyramid. The purpose of they anti-inflammatory pyramid is to guide us on how to eat more anti-inflammatory foods.

See how the biggest portion at the base should be vegetables and fruits. Let me see where meat is. Did you find where the meat portion is? Actually, there is no category called "meat". The closest that comes to it is the slice that is called "other sources of proteins". It gives some examples "high quality natural cheeses and yogurt, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, lean meats"

Dr. Andrew Weil on "The Doctor Oz Show"

Doctor Oz invited Dr. Andrew Weil onto his show (video here) where Dr. Andrew Weil talked about his anti-inflammatory pyramid which is based in part on the Mediterranean style diet. He believes that all modern chronic diseases begin at the cellular low-level as chronic inflammation. Some of the foods of the modern diet are pro-inflammatory. So this is a diet that is designed to reduce inflammation.

Some points about some of the sections of the pyramid...

  • Dr. Andrew Weil loves Asian mushrooms because they boost the immune system and can protect us from cancers and viral infections. But he says that mushrooms should never be eaten raw. It is not digestible in that form and the body can not get the benefits from them.
  • Among the "good fats" are olive oil and that is his primary cooking oil (video reference). Sometimes he use limited amounts of organic canola oil. Walnut oil and hazelnut oil are in this category as well, but they must not be heated (so only pour raw onto salads). Flaxseeds needs to be grounded, otherwise they just pass right though without being digested.
  • He also says that whole eggs (such as one eggs per day) is fine. It has lots of good beneficial ingredients in it, such as good fats in the yolk.
  • Whole soy food reduce hormonal-driven cancers (such as breast cancer for women and prostate cancer for men).
  • He says al dente pasta consumed in moderation and without a lot of cream is fine. Al dente means just barely cooked without it being mushy. In this form, it is not so quickly digested and does not produce a huge spike in blood sugar.
  • The five category of foods that he wants everyone to everyday is 1) cooked Asian mushrooms such as shiitake, enoki, maitake, oyster mushrooms, 2) whole soy foods such as soy nuts, tofu, temph, soy milk, and edamame (but not fake soy meat), 3) cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage family, bok choy, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, 4) healthy fats such as olive oils, eggs, organic canola oil, hemp seeds, and ground flax seeds, 5) cracked whole grains such as basmati rice, wild rice, buckwheat, and barley (not pulverized grains such as in breads)

Component of the Anti-Inflammatory Pyramid

Here are the components of the anti-inflammatory pyramid, starting with the largest portion at the base.

Base layer: Vegetables and Fruits

Next higher layer: Whole Grains, Pasta, Beans

Next layer: Healthy Fats

Next layer: Fish and Seafood

Next layer: Whole Soy Foods

Next layer: Cooked Asian Mushroom (He says unlimited amount; he must love Asian mushrooms)

Next layer: Other Sources of Proteins (cheeses, yogurt, eggs, poultry, lean meats)

Next layer: Healthy Herbs and Spices (garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon)

Next layer: Tea (white, green, oolong)

Next layer: Supplements

Next layer: Red wine (he says optional here; because some people don't drink and that's fine)

Next layer at the very tip top to be consumed sparingly is plain dark chocolate

You can also read about how dark chocolate is good for brain health here.

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