Dr. Andrew Weil is probably best known for his thick, always-groomed beard and prolific Oprah appearances. He's almost as famous for introducing the anti-inflammatory diet in this country. But is it just another fad way of eating, something that involves making complicated meals or buying expensive ingredients, perhaps? The short answer is no; it's just common sense. Many doctors believe chronic inflammation can cause serious illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease. Inflammation can be precipitated or worsened by factors like genetic predisposition, stress, exposure to toxins, or not enough exercise, and what you eat and drink is also thought to greatly influence inflammation in the body.
Although the anti-inflammatory diet is not intended primarily for weight loss, it is possible to lose weight with this way of eating since high-calorie, deep-fried junk food is pretty much out, while a lot of low-calorie fresh produce is introduced. The diet is a way of preparing food which can help your body maintain its health. The diet offers vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, phytonutrients and essential fatty acids, and followers report feeling healthier and more energized.
So What Do You Eat Exactly?
Abundant fruit and vegetables are encouraged, along with a wide variety of fresh produce, while the consumption of junk food and processed foods should be minimized or, preferably, avoided altogether. Every meal on the anti-inflammatory diet should include protein, fat and carbohydrates. "Good" anti-inflammatory carbohydrates include beans, sweet potatoes, winter squash, brown rice and bulgur wheat, while "bad" ones would be wheat flour, sugar, packaged snacks like pretzels and chips, and anything made with high fructose corn syrup.
Recommended fats include extra-virgin olive oil and organic canola, safflower and sunflower oils, although vegetable shortening and margarine should not be used. Nuts, avocados, fatty fish like salmon and herring provide healthy fats and other nutrients. As for protein, items such as fish, natural cheeses and yogurts are encouraged, along with vegetable proteins like soybeans. Vegetables, whole grains and berries, meanwhile, offer fiber.
Dr. Weil recommends consuming cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, or anything related to cabbage), soy foods and organic produce regularly, ensuring you eat fruits and veggies from all over the color spectrum so you get a lot of variety. Tea is preferred over coffee while red wine (in moderation) is the preferred alcohol. Dark chocolate with at least a 70 percent cacao content is permitted, and your main beverages should be water or drinks made with mainly water. Drink bottled or filtered water if your local water supply tastes of chlorine or other chemicals.
Where to Try It
So let's say you want to give this diet a try—where can you start? Well, you can either take a look at drweil.com to learn more about it, click here to find a few sample recipes, or else visit Houston's location of Weil's small chain of restaurants, True Food Kitchen. There you can sample all kinds of delicious anti-inflammatory recipes and find out why you aren't going to miss anything at all on this diet.
Located at 1700 Post Oak Blvd. in Uptown, this chic restaurant has a menu full of delicious options including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices. I've tried the shiitake and organic tofu lettuce cups, butternut squash pizza, and spaghetti squash casserole so far, all of which were very good. I even took home a side dish of zucchini in lemon foam to serve with dinner, since it's served at room temperature. And don't miss the bar, where True Food Kitchen also serves an exemplary ginger margarita. Even if you consider yourself healthy and you aren't looking for a new diet plan or way of eating, I still strongly recommend True Food Kitchen, simply because everything tastes so good.