Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

Food Pyramid Header Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid

While I was doing some research today I ran across this interested twist on the Food Pyramid. I thought it was good enough to share it, and I wanted to keep track of it since I have a problem with inflammation too.

How much: Sparingly
Healthy choices: Unsweetened dried fruit, dark chocolate, fruit sorbet
Why: Dark chocolate provides polyphenols with antioxidant activity. Choose dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa and have an ounce a few times a week. Fruit sorbet is a better option than other frozen desserts.
How much: Optional, no more than 1-2 glasses per day
Healthy choices: Organic red wine
Why: Red wine has beneficial antioxidant activity. Limit intake to no more than 1-2 servings per day. If you do not drink alcohol, do not start.
How much: Daily
Healthy choices: High quality multivitamin/multimineral that includes key antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and selenium); co-enzyme Q10; 2-3 grams of a molecularly distilled fish oil; 2,000 IU of vitamin D3
Why: Supplements help fill any gaps in your diet when you are unable to get your daily requirement of micronutrients. 
Click here to learn more about supplements and get your free recommendation.
How much: 2-4 cups per day
Healthy choices: White, green, oolong teas
Why: Tea is rich in catechins, antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation. Purchase high-quality tea and learn how to correctly brew it for maximum taste and health benefits.
How much: Unlimited amounts
Healthy choices: Turmeric, curry powder (which contains turmeric), ginger and garlic (dried and fresh), chili peppers, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme
Why: Use these herbs and spices generously to season foods. Turmeric and ginger are powerful, natural anti-inflammatory agents.
How much
: 1-2 servings a week (one portion is equal to 1 ounce of cheese, 1 eight-ounce serving of dairy, 1 egg, 3 ounces cooked poultry or skinless meat)
Healthy choices: High quality natural cheese and yogurt, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, grass-fed lean meats
Why: In general, try to reduce consumption of animal foods.  If you eat chicken, choose organic, cage-free chicken and remove the skin and associated fat.  Use organic, reduced-fat dairy products moderately, especially yogurt and natural cheeses such as Emmental (Swiss), Jarlsberg and true Parmesan.  If you eat eggs, choose omega-3 enriched eggs (made by feeding hens a flax-meal-enriched diet), or organic eggs from free-range chickens.
How much: Unlimited amounts
Healthy choices: Shiitake, enokidake, maitake, oyster mushrooms (and wild mushrooms if available)
Why: These mushrooms contain compounds that enhance immune function. Never eat mushrooms raw, and minimize consumption of common commercial button mushrooms (including crimini and portobello).
How much: 1-2 servings per day (one serving is equal to ½ cup tofu or tempeh, 1 cup soymilk, ½ cup cooked edamame, 1 ounce of soynuts)
Healthy choices: Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, soymilk
Why: Soy foods contain isoflavones that have antioxidant activity and are protective against cancer.  Choose whole soy foods over fractionated foods like isolated soy protein powders and imitation meats made with soy isolate. 
How much:  2-6 servings per week (one serving is equal to 4 ounces of fish or seafood)
Healthy choices: Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod (sablefish)
Why: These fish are rich in omega-3 fats, which are strongly anti-inflammatory. If you choose not to eat fish, take a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement that provides both EPA and DHA in a dose of 2-3 grams per day.
How much:  5-7 servings per day (one serving is equal to 1 teaspoon of oil, 2 walnuts, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed, 1 ounce of avocado)
Healthy choices: For cooking, use extra virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed organic canola oil. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts (especially walnuts), avocados, and seeds - including hemp seeds and freshly ground flaxseed. Omega-3 fats are also found in cold water fish, omega-3 enriched eggs, and whole soy foods. Organic, expeller pressed, high-oleic sunflower or safflower oils may also be used, as well as walnut and hazelnut oils in salads and dark roasted sesame oil as a flavoring for soups and stir-fries
Why: Healthy fats are those rich in either monounsaturated or omega-3 fats.  Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols with antioxidant activity and canola oil contains a small fraction of omega-3 fatty acids. 
How much: 
3-5 servings a day (one serving is equal to about ½ cup cooked grains)
Healthy choices
: Brown rice, basmati rice, wild rice, buckwheat, groats, barley, quinoa, steel-cut oats
Why: Whole grains digest slowly, reducing frequency of spikes in blood sugar that promote inflammation. "Whole grains" means grains that are intact or in a few large pieces, not whole wheat bread or other products made from flour.
PASTA (al dente)
How much
: 2-3 servings per week (one serving is equal to about ½ cup cooked pasta)
Healthy choices: Organic pasta, rice noodles, bean thread noodles, and part whole wheat and buckwheat noodles like Japanese udon and soba
Why: Pasta cooked al dente (when it has "tooth" to it) has a lower glycemic index than fully-cooked pasta. Low-glycemic-load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize spikes in blood glucose levels.
How much: 1-2 servings per day (one serving is equal to ½ cup cooked beans or legumes)
Healthy choices: Beans like Anasazi, adzuki and black, as well as chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils
Why: Beans are rich in folic acid, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber.  They are a low-glycemic-load food.  Eat them well-cooked either whole or pureed into spreads like hummus.
How much: 4-5 servings per day minimum (one serving is equal to 2 cups salad greens, ½ cup vegetables cooked, raw or juiced)
Healthy Choices: Lightly cooked dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, Swiss chard), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cauliflower), carrots, beets, onions, peas, squashes, sea vegetables and washed raw salad greens
Why: Vegetables are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.  Go for a wide range of colors, eat them both raw and cooked, and choose organic when possible.
How much:  3-4 servings per day (one serving is equal to 1 medium size piece of fruit, ½ cup chopped fruit, ¼ cup of dried fruit)
Healthy choices: Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears - all lower in glycemic load than most tropical fruits
Why: Fruits are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.  Go for a wide range of colors, choose fruit that is fresh in season or frozen, and buy organic when possible.
Additional Item:
How much: Throughout the day
Healthy choices: Drink pure water, or drinks that are mostly water (tea, very diluted fruit juice, sparkling water with lemon) throughout the day.
Why: Water is vital for overall functioning of the body.

My Nutritional 2 cents

Lately I have seen a lot of posts about eating habits. Some people seem to have a pretty good idea of what is good, while others, not so much. I took a nutritional science class over the summer & learned a great deal. I loved it so much I kept my text book. I'm also currently taking anatomy & physiology in college, which is tough but educational as well (which it better be!). 


Here's something I do know, eating smaller more frequent meals leads to steadier blood sugars. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but it does to someone who is trying to lose weight, or someone who is hypoglycemic, like me.


When your blood sugar spikes and dips it can cause problems metabolically. High sugar can lead to that burned out feeling when it crashes (as well as cause excess to be stored in the fat cells among other problems). The crash is where it dips below normal. At low blood sugar levels your body is not able to function at optimal capacity. Since the primary source of fuel for your cells and the brain is glucose, if there isn't enough in your system the body starts to compensate by shutting some processes down (foggy head anyone?). The brain cannot function without its sugar fuel, and if there isn't enough in the system it will seek out the largest source of glycogen stores and begin to metabolize it to convert it into sugar. Any guess what that would be? Muscle tissue. Namely skeletal muscle (there are 3 types, and this is the most abundant in your body). This is where you hear the warnings about starvation mode, risks of low calorie diets (500 kcal, or less, but in actuality it's also less than 1000 kcal over a long period of time). The body stores everything it takes in, and burns as little as possible. So what may make you lose weight with severe caloric restriction will cause a major gain if you suddenly return to normal eating habits. Why risk it? 1200 kcal is low enough that combined with exercise can help boost metabolism & promote weight loss.


That being said, the second most common error I see is eating large portions of food that add up to 1/2 or greater of your daily requirements. I understand some days are hard to get enough to eat, but it will not do you any good to eat your days worth of calories in one meal. Your body can only process and use up to a certain amount of fuel at one time. Anything left over will be processed & stored. Not in your stomach or intestines. In your fat cells (adipose tissue). So say I skip breakfast, and say lunch too. Dinner rolls around & I'm famished, low blood sugar and binge happy. I eat ala drive through at the golden arches or something similar. I think, hey I haven't eaten all day it's ok to eat 1000 kcal in one meal. Nope. My body will take what it needs, which at that low energy state I assume wouldn't be even half of that, and it will take the leftovers and store it in those trouble areas I work my butt off at the gym to reduce. 


Eating right is a learning process. It takes time, dedication and education. We got overweight by not paying attention, not exercising and eating more than our body needed to run. In order to learn new healthier habits we must keep track of what we put in our mouth, choose healthier options, and create healthier habits. 


I hope my mad rambling made sense and helps those people who were like me and unaware of what my eating habits were really doing to my body. 


EDIT: I forgot to mention, higher BMI (Body Mass Index) means higher caloric needs. Where I need 1200, someone with a higher BMI may need 1800. Just food for thought!