After two excruciating days of intense inflammation, I decided to check out the inflammatory potential of the foods I was eating. I had just cut out red peppers. They were the last of the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers — can make arthritis worse) to be removed from my menu. And I did notice a difference so I figured I should investigate further. Off to the library I went to read up on Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet, part of his book Healthy Aging.
That’s DOCTOR Weil — which title normally would cue my wariness. However, he practices integrative medicine which gets brownie points with me. Also, he is a fellow baby boomer so he writes from personal as well as clinical experience.
My first suspect was the nuts I eat at work. They were a mixed, unsalted blend without peanuts (which I had read contain mold). Aha! According to Dr Weil, most were high in the omega-6 fatty acids which cause inflammation. Now Dr Weil talks about a correct ratio between the omega-6’s and the omega-3’s (which prevent inflammation). But I was already eating lots of fish and taking fish oil caps for omega-3 and that didn’t stop the inflammation. So out went the nut blend full of omega-6. That left me with walnuts. Haven’t eaten walnuts by themselves since I was a kid. But they’re ok. And they don’t normally get roasted.
If you are going to eat roasted nuts, Dr Weil recommends dry roasted because otherwise you may defeat your purpose. You will not likely know what kind of oil was used for roasting and different types of oil and different types of oil extraction can promote inflammation. Apparently, it is believed that in the past, humans ate approximately equal amounts of omega-6’s and omega-3’s. According to Dr Weil, snack and fast foods mostly contain omega-6 with little if any omega-3. The book mentioned several times that the Japanese and Mediterranean diets are associated with long life and a good ratio of omega-6’s to omega-3’s.
Green tea was the next addition to my menu. I now drink my coffee at home and green tea at work. I also began putting the garlic I use into the steamer (instead of raw into the steamed dinner) and began adding ginger root as well.
Dr Weil also discussed carbohydrates that contribute to inflammation. That involves blood sugar and glycation, glycemic index and glycemic load. That was the end of my breakfasts from the bakery.Then came the best types of fruits and vegetables to fight inflammation. And — my favorite part — sparing amounts of red wine and dark chocolate also fight it.
Did the changes help my inflammation? Definitely. I have had 2 nights virtually pain free with only a little back stiffness tonight, my third night. I should mention that during this time I also increased my boswellia dosage, the herb I normally use but often forget to take as frequently as I should.
There is, of course, much more to Dr Weil’s book than just fighting inflammation. He writes about the philosophy and physiology of aging then goes on to explain how we can age gracefully. Practicing integrative medicine means he also writes about attitudes, emotions, stress and memory. Being that he is 72, he is a good advertisement for what he advocates.
Healthy Aging, A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being by Andrew Weil M.D. is published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
originally published on IBOsocial 2/7 2014