My Summary of the Mediterranean/Anti-Inflammatory Diet

 To watch my webinar explaining this diet please click here: Mediterranean Diet Webinar

Approximately 7-8 years ago I was struggling with my health. I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, and advanced atherosclerosis for my age. All this occurred even though I did not smoke, exercised vigorously in the pool, and was not overweight. Frustrated by these results and also by the number of pills I was taking, I decided to finally educate myself on nutrition and was introduced to over 20 nutrition lectures from the Annual Health and Nutrition Conference created by Dr. Andrew Weil. These lectures changed my health and redirected my professional life to learning more about integrative medicine. Below is my personal summary of those and later lectures regarding the Mediterranean diet.

I hope this "Cliff's Notes" version will be helpful to you if you are interested in learning more about using food to improve your health.

  Mediterranean/ Anti-Inflammatory Diet

  1. Aim for 8-10 servings of vegetables and fruits (especially berries, cherries,peaches, pears and apples) a day.  The goal is to “eat the rainbow” daily consuming produce of all 4 major colors (red, green, blue/purple, orange.
  2. “Meat sources with less legs better," ideally eat fish 2-3 x week and the best is wild caught Salmon, especially sockeye type (farm raised has less omega 3).  Your next best option is organic poultry and if possible eliminate or at least greatly reduce red meat.  If you do eat red meat then eat lean sources that are organic and free range or wild.  I recommend organically grown meats because those animals are raised/grown with more nutrient rich foods which passes along to you when you eat those products. In addition they should also have significantly less pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, which will reduce the negative health effects of those substances.
  3. Nuts are a good source of snacks between meals particularly walnuts, almonds, and pistachios.
  4. Eat whole grains like quinoa (this is technically a seed), brown rice, barley, wheat berries, farro, bulgur, whole seeds (like pumpkin seeds), and steel cut Irish oatmeal.  Avoid/limit flour based products like bread, crackers and cereal. Sprouted grain bread is ok (like Ezekiel bread) which is often sold in the frozen section and may be more palatable toasted to the novice eater.
  5. If you are going to have pasta, eat a small serving and cook it AL dente (firm) as this helps reduce the rise in blood sugar levels (lowers glycemic index).
  6. Avoid more than 1-3 ounces of fruit juice a day.
  7. Ideally drink green or white tea, without sugar, 3-4 cups a day instead of fruit juices and diet sodas/sweet tea.  The green/white tea should be brewed, but may be subsequently chilled.
  8. Daily organic (consider Greek style) yogurt with active cultures added after pasteurization is a good compliment to your diet, and the active cultures can have added benefit to your digestive and immune systems. Plain yogurt is the least likely to raise sugar levels. If you added frozen/fresh berries to the yogurt it will be more palatable and highly nutritious as well.
  9. If you eat something high in sugar (elevated glycemic index) combine it with foods that are less likely to raise your sugar (low glycemic index) to make the total sugar load for the meal a smaller average. Also adding olive oil, fiber, or vinegar to higher glycemic foods helps slow gastric emptying and will lessen the rise in blood sugar and thus reduce insulin levels.
  10. Try to limit or better yet eliminate processed foods, flour (including whole wheat flour) and sugar.  Instead focus on buying and consuming only “whole foods.”  If you are buying something already prepared in the store and cannot buy everything on the ingredient list then consider it processed.
  11. Avoid products with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sugars as these will have metabolic effects that may increase insulin resistance and thus contribute to weight gain along with other associated health issues.
  12. Eat your meals with gratitude, joy and mindfulness. A positive emotional state will help your body absorb and better utilize the nutrition in the food you are eating. Turn off the TV and encourage only positive conversation with those you enjoy being around.

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