In 2005 my wife, Ivy Larson, and I wrote the Gold Coast Cure, which was basically an anti- inflammatory diet created specifically for helping people with inflammatory diseases such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, asthma, allergies, heart disease, etc. It was also a diet that helped my wife regain her health. You can read all about Ivy’s story HERE and how her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1998 at the age of 22 prompted me to research an anti-inflammatory diet.
Ivy’s MS has been in remission for almost 15 years now (knock on wood!) I knock on wood because I know MS is not “curable” with an anti-inflammatory diet or even medication—but in many cases the symptoms of MS and many other inflammatory diseases can be controlled.
My whole family, including my 11-year old son, now follows the same healing and anti-inflammatory diet Ivy follows because even though the rest of us don’t have MS or any other inflammatory disease I strongly believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of “cure”. And besides, I can also happily report that the anti-inflammatory diet has helped me lose – and keep off – the post-college pounds that had crept up in med school as well as lower my blood pressure.
Ivy and I have continued to study nutrition for over a decade and since writing our Gold Coast Cure we have modified and updated our anti-inflammatory diet to be even more anti-inflammatory than before. Our Clean Cuisine website offers “super” anti-inflammatory recipes and a snapshot into how our family follows an anti-inflammatory lifestyle every day.
How Can a Clean Cuisine Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help You?
Ok, so maybe you don’t have MS, high blood pressure or any pounds to lose, but an anti-inflammatory diet can still help you. Many of the chronic, degenerative diseases people suffer with in our modern world have chronic inflammation as the common thread. Seemingly unrelated conditions that affect millions of Americans including Crohn’s disease, heart disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, vascular dementia, multiple sclerosis, etc., all have one common denominator: inflammation. Specifically, in all of these conditions the body overproduces a signaling protein called interleukin-1 (IL-1).
Inflammatory conditions have reached epidemic proportion and they are a big boon for the pharmaceutical industry. Current mainstream medical treatments for blocking inflammation include steroid drugs, aspirin, ibuprofen, and other NSAID’s. But in many cases these medications, especially the steroids, are like taking a sledgehammer to your foot just in order to kill a red ant; the smashed foot usually ends up being far more of a problem than the red ant bite would have been.
The point is all anti-inflammatory prescription medications can have very serious side effects, and sometimes the side effects (the smashed foot) can leave you worse off than before.
The good news is you can modify your body’s inflammatory response and reduce the chronic low grade inflammation that exacerbates inflammatory conditions simply by changing the foods you eat. This is because some foods are pro-inflammatory and other foods are anti-inflammatory. For example, omega-3 fish oil happens to have extraordinary anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, omega 3’s can lower your IL-1 levels by as much as 50 percent, a degree of suppression similar to that caused by some steroid drugs. (1) Even just increasing fiber intake by eating more plant foods lowers inflammation and C-reactive protein levels (2).
Food, as I have learned, is very powerful medicine.
Being Overweight Adds Fuel to the Inflammatory Fire
Chronic low-grade inflammation isn’t the only mushrooming epidemic. Approximately 64 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Not only does being overweight exacerbate an existing inflammatory disease, but fat cells play a major role in the creation of the inflammatory molecules that directly contribute to inflammatory disease.
But again, there’s good news. You can absolutely lose weight by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet. In fact, any food that is anti-inflammatory will promote weight loss.
About the Clean Cuisine Anti-Inflammatory Diet Pyramid
The anti-inflammatory diet pyramid at the top of this article should help give you a good visual idea of which foods you should eat, and in which proportion, as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. You’ll notice the anti-inflammatory diet pyramid is heavy on plant-foods but it is not vegan. However, the animal foods that are allowed are of the absolute highest quality (such as organic grass-fed beef, organic pastured chicken, organic pastured eggs etc.) It is extremely important that you choose only the highest quality animal foods from animals that are fed their natural diet rather than a deviant factory-farmed diet. This is because factory-farmed animals have more inflammatory fats than traditionally farmed animals.
Critics might complain that I don’t include portion sizes on my anti-inflammatory food pyramid. I debated about whether to do this but ultimately decided not to do so because portion sizes vary so greatly from individual to individual. Instead, just use the pyramid as a visual guide to which foods you should be eating more of (more unrefined “whole” plant foods!) and which foods you should be eating less of (and keep in mind that eating less eggs and less chicken doesn’t mean eating no eggs and no chicken!) The Clean Cuisine anti-inflammatory food pyramid emphasizes balanced “whole foods” nutrition, but it is absolutely not a radical diet. After reviewing the medical literature I am not convinced a radical diet is best for health, or mental sanity either for that matter.
Clean Cuisine’s 7 Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips
Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can seem daunting but following the 7 simple anti-inflammatory diet tips I have outlined (read tip number one by clicking the link below) can set you well on your way to reducing inflammation, healing your body and shedding unwanted (pro-inflammatory) pounds too. Reducing inflammation can also help significantly boost energy levels even help you look better, age slower and have fewer wrinkles, an anti-inflammatory “perk” my female patients always seem especially excited about.
I acknowledge that radically changing your diet can be overwhelming. My advice is to start slow. Make one or two of the changes recommended in my 7 anti-inflammatory tips rather than radically changing your diet all at once (note: my 7 anti-inflammatory tips are included in seven separate articles that all link together, to read tip #1 click the link above.) Once each dietary change becomes second nature you can then make a new change.
Keep in mind it is far better to make changes that will be permanent than to make a quick-fix change, because when it comes to controlling inflammation with an anti-inflammatory diet the changes absolutely must be consistent. You can and you will see results following an anti-inflammatory diet, but only if you are consistent.
1. Endres, S.,T. Eisenhut, and B. Sinha. Lipids in immune functions and inflammatory disorders. 1995; 23:277-281.
2. Ajani UA, Ford ES, Mokdad AH. Dietary fiber and C-reactive protein; findings from national health and nutrition examination survey data. J Nutr. 2004 May; 134(5):1181-1185.