Holistic health trailblazer Dr. Andrew Weil has long supported the belief that chronic inflammation is at the root of many serious illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
In his new cookbook, True Food, Dr. Weil reveals how specific foods can reduce inflammation in the body, providing your best strategy for protecting against deadly diseases.
Dr. Weil defines “true food” as food that is authentic at its core. His recipes are based on simple ingredients that conform to a healthy nutritional philosophy consistent with the latest scientific evidence regarding foods that heal.
Most people are familiar with inflammation that appears on the body’s surface in the form of redness, heat, swelling and pain. Inflammation is how the body heals itself, bringing more immune activity to a site of injury or infection. However, when inflammation persists or gets out of control, it can damage the body.
While stress, lack of exercise, genetics and toxins can all increase chronic inflammation, the average American diet, overloaded with trans fats and refined sugars, has become a major culprit. That’s because heavily processed foods are difficult for the body to break down, effectively taxing the immune system. Refined carbs raise blood sugar so quickly that the body can become immune to insulin, which also increases inflammation.
Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet promotes internal healing and reduces inflammation systematically. There are five key items in his diet that will have you on the road to optimal health.
Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet
1. Carotenoid-Rich Fruits and Vegetables
Carotenoids, the pigment found in fruits and vegetables, contain potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that fight free radials. Reach for the rainbow: purple cabbage, golden butternut squash, deep-green arugula, etc. One of Dr. Weil’s favorites carotenoid-rich veggies is orange cauliflower, high in cancer-fighting beta-carotene. Look for it at your local supermarket. Eat 4 to 5 servings daily.
Try Dr. Weil’s Curried Cauliflower Soup. This popular recipe from True Food is extremely healthful and quick to prepare. Plus 1 cup will give you a bountiful serving of the anti-inflammatory ingredients orange cauliflower, turmeric and extra-virgin olive oil. Enjoy hot or cold.
2. Whole and Cracked Grains
Whole and cracked grains include those that are intact or in a few large pieces, as opposed to the finely ground grain found in whole-wheat bread. These fiber-rich foods digest slowly, which helps reduce the spikes in blood sugar that can cause inflammation. Healthy choices include brown rice, groats, barley and quinoa. Dr. Weil also loves basmati rice for its delicious taste. Eat 3 to 5 servings per day.
3. Oils Containing Polyphenols
The polyphenols in oils such as extra virgin olive oil are powerful antioxidants shown to help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Eat 5 to 7 servings per day. One serving equals 1 teaspoon. You also can get your polyphenols from other foods with good fats including nuts (walnuts, cashews, etc.) or avocados.
4. Fish and Seafood
Similar to extra virgin olive oil, fish and seafood are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, highly regarded for reducing inflammation. Black cod (sablefish) ranks as Dr. Weil’s personal favorite. Other good choices include herring, sardines and wild Alaskan salmon. Eat 2 to 4 servings of seafood every week. One serving is about 4 ounces.
5. Herbs and Spices
Pump up the flavor of your favorite foods with anti-inflammatory spices such as chili peppers, basil, cinnamon and turmeric. Turmeric in particular has tremendous natural anti-inflammatory properties due to the active ingredient curcumin. Feel free to use unlimited amounts of these seasonings.
For a dose of antioxidants, protective phytonutrients and an all-natural source of vitamin C, try Dr. Weil's sea buckthorn juice elixir.