If you want to eat for long-term health, lowering inflammation is crucial.
Inflammation in the body causes or contributes to many debilitating, chronic illnesses — including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease,Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer.
That’s why, as a doctor and founder of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, I recommend my patients eat a diet focused on anti-inflammatory principles.
Recent research finds that eating this way not only helps protect against certain diseases, but it also slows the aging process by stabilizing blood sugar and increasing metabolism.
Plus, although the goal is to optimize health, many people find they also lose weight by following an anti-inflammatory eating pattern.
Here, I’m sharing the 11 principles I recommend everyone incorporate into their diet for optimal health:
1. Consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day.
A fiber-rich diet helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods.
To get your fill of fiber, seek out whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The best sources include whole grains such as barley and oatmeal; vegetables like okra, eggplant, and onions; and a variety of fruits like bananas (3 grams of fiber per banana) and blueberries (3.5 grams of fiber per cup).
2. Eat a minimum of nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
One “serving” is half a cup of a cooked fruit or vegetable, or one cup of a raw leafy vegetable.
For an extra punch, add anti-inflammatory herbs and spices — such asturmeric and ginger — to your cooked fruits and vegetables to increase their antioxidant capacity.
3. Eat four servings of both alliums and crucifers every week.
Alliums include garlic, scallions, onions, and leek, while crucifers refer to vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.
Because of their powerful antioxidant properties, consuming a weekly average of four servings of each can help lower your risk of cancer.
If you like the taste, I recommend eating a clove of garlic a day!
4. Limit saturated fat to 10 percent of your daily calories.
By keeping saturated fat low (that’s about 20 grams per 2,000 calories), you’ll help reduce the risk of heart disease.
You should also limit red meat to once per week and marinate it with herbs, spices, and tart, unsweetened fruit juices to reduce the toxic compoundsformed during cooking.
5. Consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis — conditions that often have a high inflammatory process at their root.
Aim to eat lots of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like flax meal, walnuts, and beans such as navy, kidney and soy. I also recommend taking a good-quality omega-3 supplement.
And of course, consume cold-water fish such as salmon, oysters, herring, mackerel, trout, sardines, and anchovies. Speaking of which:
6. Eat fish at least three times a week.
Choose both low-fat fish such as sole and flounder, and cold-water fish that contain healthy fats, like the ones mentioned above.
7. Use oils that contain healthy fats.
The body requires fat, but choose the fats that provide you with benefits.
Virgin and extra-virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed canola are the best bets for anti-inflammatory benefits. Other options include high-oleic, expeller-pressed versions of sunflower and safflower oil.
8. Eat healthy snacks twice a day.
If you’re a snacker, aim for fruit, plain or unsweetened Greek-style yogurt (it contains more protein per serving), celery sticks, carrots, or nuts like pistachios, almonds, and walnuts.
9. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars.
This includes any food that contains high-fructose corn syrup or is high in sodium, which contribute to inflammation throughout the body.
Avoid refined sugars whenever possible and artificial sweeteners altogether. The dangers of excess fructose have been widely cited and include increased insulin resistance (which can lead to type-2 diabetes), raised uric acid levels,raised blood pressure, increased risk of fatty liver disease, and more.
10. Cut out trans fats.
In 2006, the FDA required food manufacturers to identify trans fats on nutrition labels, and for good reason — studies show that people who eat foods high in trans fats have higher levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker for inflammation in the body.
A good rule of thumb is to always read labels and steer clear of products that contain the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated oils.” Vegetable shortenings, select margarines, crackers, and cookies are just a few examples of foods that might contain trans fats.
11. Sweeten meals with phytonutrient-rich fruits, and flavor foods with spices.
Most fruits and vegetables are loaded with important phytonutrients. In order to naturally sweeten your meals, try adding apples, apricots, berries, and even carrots.
And for flavoring savory meals, go for spices that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, including cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, sage, and thyme.
Very low calorie diets are effective for many people, particularly the HCG diet, but a lot of people still believe that very low calorie diets don’t work. They actually do work quite well, even for patients who may not have had success with other diets. There are several scientific reasons why very low calorie diets can result in rapid weight loss. Although they are not a permanent solution, they offer a transition to a healthy lifestyle and a way for people who haven’t had success with dieting or weight loss in the past to see rapid results. Very low calorie diets are not dangerous when they are properly medically supervised, and they offer a safer alternative to many of the other weight loss options available.
Very low calorie diets lead to weight loss
The HCG diet utilizes the effect of the hormone HCG along with a very low calorie diet to achieve its weight loss goals. The only real way to lose weight quickly and safely is by restricting your caloric intake, which very low calorie diets accomplish. During a very low calorie diet the human body switches to a ketogenic state which results in rapid fat loss. This state can be continued as long as the dieter restricts their calorie intake to be more than what they need. Diets that are structured in this way can be continued for an extended period of time without serious complications for the majority of people.
Very low calorie diets end up being significantly more convenient than other types of diets that require exercise or other difficult to follow requirements. The HCG diet is a perfect example of such a diet, as its requirements are designed to be simple and the specific foods that are allowed on the diet and their servings is detailed completely. Many other very low calorie diets are not as effective and don’t have the clinical research backing them up like the HCG diet. The HCG diet has very direct and simple instructions, and dieters benefit from this. It also has a few other distinct advantages compared to many other diets, and it does not take very long to complete.
Very low calorie diets are short in duration
One of the biggest reasons why very low calorie diets are often successful is because of the fact that most of them are short in duration. It’s important to note that even longer duration very low calorie diets are safe if they are medically approved, as many obese patients can have calorie restrictions in the long term without suffering major medical problems. The HCG diet lasts for just a period of three to six weeks, which means that most people can handle the length of time required for the diet without any major issues. It’s also an easy diet to learn for most people, and the protocol has been around for a very long time with minimal modifications compared to most other diets.
The best very low calorie diets focus on food quality
For many things in life, quality is more important than quantity. For a very low calorie diet, it’s not the number of calories that you are eating that matters as much as the quality of those calories. The best very low calorie diets like the HCG diet are more focused on food quality, which is why it does not result in nutritional deficiencies like many other diets. The foods for the HCG diet are carefully selected based on the minimum nutritional needs of the average person. Only natural whole foods are allowed on the diet with strict restrictions, and there is a sufficient amount of protein on the diet as well which helps to ensure that muscle mass is not lost.
Some people may need additional tweaks to the diet such as increasing the calorie amount slightly, increasing the protein amount, or other changes to the diet, but most people can follow the standard protocol without any issues. Some people also take a multi-vitamin while they are on the HCG diet, and this can be a good idea for many dieters. If for no other reason, it can give dieters the peace of mind that they can safely stay on the diet without having to worry about nutritional deficiencies. When the diet is properly followed, there are no nutritional issues, and an experienced medical provider will be able to tell the patient about any particular precautions that they need to be aware of before they start the diet.
Very low calorie diets need to be medically supervised
Although very low calorie diets are safe and an excellent alternative to traditional medical treatments like bariatric surgery, they always need to be attempted under the direction of a medical provider. There are some contraindications to these diet that have to be reviewed by a medical professional before a person attempts the diet. With the wide range of very low calorie diets being made available online, and with many patients attempting these diets without medical advice, there have been more people who have had nutritional deficiencies, gallstones, or other health problems. There is really no circumstance where a person should attempt a very low calorie diet without getting some sort of medical advice.
With the proper medical supervision, a very low calorie diet can help a patient get back to a healthy lifestyle and change their eating habits. It’s happened already for thousands of people on the HCG diet, and within just a matter of three to six weeks, many patients report that their appetites have changed, that they no longer feel the urge to eat the same unhealthy foods that they used to eat, and most importantly, they report substantial weight loss. All of these results are accomplished without having to rely on dangerous bariatric surgery, medications, or other weight loss treatments that come with major risks and can be very expensive.