QUESTIONS for MONICA REINAGEL, AUTHOR of THE INLAMMATION-FREE DIET PLAN
Should I be worried about inflammation? I don’t have arthritis or allergies.
Everyone needs to be aware about inflammation because virtually everyone is affected by it to some degree. Sometimes, inflammation can cause obvious symptoms, like joint pain or asthma. But just as often, cellular inflammation can be completely symptom free. You might not realize that there is a problem until a serious disease is diagnosed. The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan is designed for everyone–children, teenagers, adults, seniors. It’s not just a diet that reduces inflammation–it is an ideal nutritional-balanced way of eating.
I’ve tried Atkins, the Zone, Sugar Busters, and South Beach. Is the Inflammation Free Diet Plan just the latest diet trend?
The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan is a new development but it’s not a trend–it’s based on decades of nutrition research. The other diets mentioned have helped people understand some very important concepts, like the importance of reducing simple carbohydrates and choosing healthy sources of fat. But none addressed the issue of inflammation–which appears to be at the root of all of the most common health problems that we see today. The Inflammation-Free Diet integrates all of these important concepts–plus the inflammation aspect–into one holistic system for healthier eating.
Whole grains are supposed to be good for you and have an overall anti-inflammatory effect on the body, but your data on, e.g., barley and oats indicates a high inflammatory effect. Could you please explain this?
Perhaps the most common misunderstanding is that all “healthy” foods are anti-inflammatory and all “unhealthy” foods are inflammatory. It’s a little more complex than that. The IF Rating system evaluates foods according to over 20 nutritional factors, including antioxidants, fatty acid composition, glycemic load, and many other nutrients. Often a food or meal will have a combination of pro- and anti-inflammatory factors of varying strengths, and the IF Rating is able to estimate the net effect of all these factors.
In the case of whole grains, they do contain some anti-inflammatory nutrients, in particular zinc and folate. But they also contain a lot of carbohydrates, which tend to increase blood sugar, which tends to exacerbate inflammation. Likewise, the biggest contributor to the IF Rating of apples is the glycemic load, which, while not large, is still measurable. The net effect is a negative rating.
While I believe it’s wise to limit or avoid foods that are strongly inflammatory, such as french fries or farmed salmon, there’s no reason to avoid wholesome foods like fruits and grains. Just plan to have the sum of all foods eaten in a day to have a positive IF Rating, so that the overall effect of the diet is anti-inflammatory.
I am trying to setup meal plans using your new anti-inflammation diet book. I take 1 gram of fish oil at each meal along with a garlic supplement which also contains 100 mg of cayenne pepper. Can you suggest an IF rating that I can use for these supplements?
I think the supplements you have mentioned are an excellent addition to your inflammation-reducing diet. But I don’t recommend applying IF Ratings to supplements. The IF Rating formula is calibrated to apply to foods, not to the more concentrated amounts of nutrients that you find in nutritional supplements. Technically, an IF Rating could be calculated for these supplements but it would be really, really high. If you added that into your totals for the day, it would tend to mask the true IF Rating of the foods you are eating.
My advice is to use the IF Rating to ensure that your diet is balanced in terms of its inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects. Ideally, the total IF Rating for all the foods you eat in a single day should be in the positive anti-inflammatory range. (In chapter 3, you’ll find some tools that will help you set target levels for your daily IF totals.) Anti-inflammatory supplements provide an added therapeutic boost—but they don’t replace the need to balance the diet.
IF Ratings for thousands of new foods!
For all of you that are using the IF Rating system to manage the effects of diet on inflammation and aging, here is terrific news. IF Ratings are now available on NutritionData.com for over 6,000 previously unrated foods, which makes it even easier to plan your anti-inflammatory diet. Here’s the web address: www.nutritiondata.com