- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet. This involves three broad categories of foods:
- lots of vegetables and fruit, (to get your anti-oxidants)
- omega 3 fatty acids
- eat low on the glycemic index (to avoid bursts of insulin)
- Aim for variety, including as much fresh food as possible and minimizing your processed foods and fast food.
- Eat 7-9 servings a day of vegetables and fruits. Use the dirty dozen and clean fifteen to help guide your choices. (click here for EWG’s shopper guide)
- The majority of carbohydrates should be in the form of less-reined, less-processed foods with low glycemic loads.
- Eat more whole grains, beans, winter squashes, and sweet potatoes.
- Avoid foods made with flour and sugar, especially bread, crackers, cereals, and most packaged snack foods (including chips and pretzels). Flour – whether it is white or whole wheat is a high glycemic index food.
- Enjoy pasta (cooked al dente) and brown rice.
- Avoid products made with high-fructose corn syrup.
- For omega-3 fatty acids, eat salmon (proferably fresh or frozen wild or canned sockeye), sardines packed in water or olive ioil, herring, black cod (sablefish, butterfish), omega-3 fortified eggs, flaxseeds (proferably freshly ground), and walnuts.
- Include avocados and nuts in your diet (especially walnuts, cashews, and almonds.)
- Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main cooking oil. For a neutral-tasting oil, use expeller pressed organic canola oil.
- Reduce your intake of saturated fat by eating less butter, cream, cheese, and other full-fat dairy products. Eat less chicken, fatty meats, and products made with coconut and palm kernel oils*.
- Avoid regular safflower and sunflower oils, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and mixed vegetable oils. Also avoid margarine, vegetable shortening, and all products listing them as ingredients. Strictly avoid all products made with partially hydrogenated oils – they are a source of trans fats in the diet.
- Eat more vegetable protein, especially from beans in general and soybeans in particular*.
- Decrease your consumption of animal protein except for fish.
- When choosing meat, organic and grass finished lead to healthier fats in the meat.
- When choosing chicken, organic removes arsenic from the chicken feed.
- Use www.cornucopia.org to help you select the best dairy products and eggs.
Phytonutrients and Fiber
- Include 40 grams of fiber a day in your diet. This can come as ground flax seed as well as from increasing your consumption of fruit, especially berries, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms. Choose fruits and vegetables from all parts of the color spectrum, especially berries, tomatoes, orange and yellow fruits, cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables, and dark leafy greens.
- Choose organic produce whenever possible. Learn which conventionally grown crops are most likely to carry pesticide residues (see Carbohydrate section) and avoid them.
- Drink tea instead of coffee, especially good-quality white, green, or oolong tea.
- If you drink alcohol, use it sparingly. Women achieve cardiovascular benefit (and avoid breast cancer risk) by consuming one drink per week; men achieve cardiovascular benefit from one drink a day.
- Enjoy plain dark chocolate (with a minimum coca content of 70%) in moderation.
Beverages and Water
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of pure water a day or drinks that are mostly water (tea, very diluted fruit juice, sparkling water with lemon)
- Get a home water purifier for your tap water.
Vitamins and Minerals
- The best way to obtain all of your daily vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients is by eating a diet high in fresh foods with an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
- Take a daily multivitamin-multimineral supplement that contains no iron and no preformed vitamin A (retinol or retinyl palmitate)
- Many people will benefit from a fish oil supplement. The dose will vary; in general look for one that has both EPA and DHA totaling 1000 mg.
2011 Victoria Maizes, MD, University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine