Sunday, March 20, 2011

Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid from Today's Dietitian

Dr. Weil's anti-inflammatory food pyramid was recently published in Today's Dietitian, and I'm intrigued.  Generally, I find Andrew Weil to be a bit extreme (and his pyramid is no exception), but I like the goals he sets for healthy foods.


  • I find it interesting that pasta is separated out from whole grains and that you are to eat it al dente.  Would the nutritional content be different if you ate soggy pasta? Perhaps he's concerned about his readers consuming uncooked dried noodles.  Top Ramen, anyone?
  • Beans are a fantastic source of fiber, protein and nutrients and I love seeing them as an everyday component of a healthy diet.
  • Bravo to Dr. Weil for acknowledging the importance of healthy fats!
  • Soy contains cancer-fighting phenols, but it also contains phytoestrogens that are still under investigation.  Phytoestrogens may negatively impact women with certain kinds of breast cancer.
  • Fascinating that Asian mushrooms got their very own box.  A cursory search shows that they do indeed contain anti-oxidants! Being an avid mushroom-hater (I make no apologies), I won't be partaking in this portion of the pyramid... particularly the "Unlimited Amounts" he suggests.
  • The "Other Sources of Protein" section seems a bit sparse.  Eggs, cheese and red meat can be pro-inflammatory if you are eating animals raised on concentrated animal feeding operations, but grass-fed beef and chicken have been shown to contain significant quantities of omega-3 fatty acids and necessary vitamins and minerals.  
  • Herbs and spices, tea, red wine and chocolate are absolutely anti-inflammatory, and I'm thrilled to see chocolate at the top of the pyramid.
  • The supplements section seems a bit vague... but apparently we are to take them daily.
Conclusion?  I like the pyramid as a guideline, especially the recommended quantities of vegetables, legumes and fats.  I highly approve of his inclusion of wine and chocolate, which keep the "anti-inflammatory" food pyramid in the realm of a healthy diet instead of an extreme lifestyle choice.  Overall, it seems low in protein--I would include more grass-fed eggs, chicken and lean beef to maintain an active lifestyle and to keep you full and satisfied. All the anti-inflammatory food in the world won't keep you from overeating carbs if you're hungry for protein!

What do you think about the pyramid? How would it fit into your lifestyle--or would it?


  1. If I had more money... I could see it. One thing I really don't like about all food pyramid-type things is that they say stuff like 3-5 per day (pasta). I take it they mean servings. But this is difficult for a layperson who doesn't have a kitchen scale or a good idea of wtf a serving is in today's supersized world. Is a serving of broccoli a crown or two florets? What's a serving of pasta? Half a cup cooked? Instead of saying "eat 8 servings of this", say eat a cup. Or something that makes sense. Some random number doesn't make nearly as much sense to me as a definite amount that I can eyeball. I don't know if this was useful in any way, but I'm cranky today and I felt like complaining. I like your post though!

    1. I would start off with what you can do. It's difficult enough changing your diet and getting used to the new tastes, let alone following the proportions. For instance, if you are used to eating 2x day then, switch the pbj sandwich with a portion of vegetables and protein that you can eat for lunch. Food intake varies from person to person but keeping the ratios of vegetables to carbohydrates is important.
      Hope this helps!

  2. I am a Naturopathic Physician and often counsel patients on smart food choices for their health concerns. A common denominator in many diseases is inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet will often stop the assault on the body and help bring people back into balance. I have used Dr. Black's book for patients dealing with: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohns Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Arthritis, Cardiovascular disease, Liver/Gallbladder dysfunction, Interstitial cystitis, Obesity, PMS and more. I even suggest it to people just looking for a healthy cook book- since everyone can benefit from eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and fish regularly. The first section in this book clearly educates the reader on how to take charge of their health through sound food choices. The recipes are easy to follow, delicious and written with a personal voice. I really appreciate Dr. Black's book because it makes my job as a physician easier when I can recommend this book and know my patients are in good hands.

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  4. Anti inflammatory diet comprised of healthy,wholesome and unprocessed food..healthy protein is anti inflammatory diet,we need to choose protein wisely,which helps to reduce amount of saturated fat in diet..This food pyramid is the key to a lifetime of healthy eating..very informative food pyramid and observation are really useful for healthy body..Thanks for sharing

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  7. Soggy noodles probably have more gluten.

  8. The Blog Admin here should have provided the accompanying explanation which is appended to it, on Dr Weil's site at ~
    This text clearly explains & answers all the prior comments!

  9. Thank you, this pyramid is great and seems to match the principles of most low carbs and high fat (healthy fats) diets, including the ketogenic diet with the exception that keto is stricter on limiting carbs and sugary fruits. I am on a modified Atkins-Ketogenic diet and I use the MyFitness app to count all numbers, and I check my glucose and keytone levels every second day to remain in ketosis. I do the ketogenic diet because I am fighting brain cancer so a full ketogenic regimen is good for some but may not be necessary for healthy people. Discuss with your physician, or a naturopath, about which low carbs diet may be most beneficial. Oh and by the way, we were told that overcooked onions have more carbs than same amount of raw or less cooked ones.. I guess this mirrors the soggy pasta comment.

  10. The second one informed me that "She will always be bulimic and she would just have to find ways to control it". Poke franchise