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Anti-inflammatory diet for health and weight loss

By Kim Crawford, M.D. Last updated: September 6, 2018
anti-inflammatory diet

Why eat an anti-inflammatory diet?

anti-inflammatory dietAn anti-inflammatory diet is the healthiest of all diet plans out there!! If you are eating “otherwise” I’m glad you’re here!

If you change your eating habits slowly from the not-so-great all American eating plan, you will reap many benefits. In fact, many benefits you will not have thought of, so continue reading because it’s not just about health improvement!

Don’t let the picture scare you off; you can eat deliciously AND healthfully! Note anyone who does any consultation service will get a copy of this anti-inflammatory diet and other cool info.


Benefits to eating an anti-inflammatory diet:

You will decrease inflammation and oxidative-stress: two things that are the biggest contributors to diseases like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. You will improve things you don’t realize such as an inability to lose weight and even depression, sleep issues, and energy loss. If you want to look younger, guess what? Eating an anti-inflammatory diet will make a HUGE difference! Eating the right things is the first step on our serious skin care plan.  If you want great sleep, this will help too!

If you want to treat depression without drugs, the first place we start is with your diet. Further, if you want to lose weight, there is no way to do it eating processed foods. Indeed, the weight will melt off if you just change how you eat! Of course, you’ll also have more energy, your immune system, and GI tract will function better, and you will have improved brain health too. Additionally, if you are looking to drop fat and add lean body massjust follow the bodybuilder guidelines. Just adjust protein up 5% and carbs down 5%. In addition, eat bcaa rich foods which I’ll list below. For quicker results, before workouts, use  bcaa and l-glutamine powders and take acety l carnitine as well. 

The basic anti-inflammatory diet provides enough micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) and a moderate calorie intake. You won’t be hungry!  It is more about how to eat than how much to eat. Aim for 30% protein / 30% fat / 40% carb (which is the ZONE diet). If you are trying to drop weight, alternate this with “going keto” meaning drop your carbs to next to none for 2-3 days, then go back to this basic plan, then switch, etc. until you are at your ideal weight. NOTE: New dietary guidelines are now emphacizing the importance of healthy fats and the deleterious effects of too many carbs. The new guideline as of this writing should be to eat 40%+ healthy fats, with carbs being reduced to 30%. Exact percentages are currently being adjusted as new studies emerge.

Bodybuilder Guidelines

If you are a bodybuilder, you should still follow this diet; change the percentages to 35% protein, 25% carbs, 40% good, clean fats. You too can alternate your basic plan with “going keto” discussed above. Try to not be in ketosis for your heavy training days. Notably, the nutritional ketosis diet can also be altered to fit your training schedule.  Proteins sources will be discussed in general, but for this population, it’s important to get lots of branched chain aminos in your proteins. This means consuming the best whey protein concentrate shake daily, chicken, eggs (boiled), turkey and wild caught salmon.

Eat “organic” as much as possible and avoid GMO’s (Genetically Modified foods):

The latest dietary craze percentage is thePaleodiet which is slightly different at 30% protein, 38% carbohydrate and 32% fat.  While this diet is much healthier than the standard American diet, it contains far too many inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids from meat to be considered “the best” way to go. So, if you are determined to follow this diet you need a whopping dose of good omega-3 fish oils to counteract the omega-6 overload. Alternatively, you need to come out of pocket (I would prefer you do this) and purchase only grass-fed organic beef, grass-fed chicken and organic, pastured eggs.

Note almost all processed foods contain GMO corn or soy products. Also note in the U.S., just about all corn, soy and WHEAT products are GMO unless labeled otherwise. GMO labeling is NOT mandatory. Why not? Ask your Congress-person!

Hydrate with filtered water: 2 glasses beyond ½ your body weight in ounces of water. Adjust up for higher activity. Make sure your urine is clear. Your “plate” should be 2/3 veggies and complex carbs, 1/3 lean protein if you are following the ‘zone’ percentages.

Protein allowances in your anti-inflammatory diet:

food that gives you energyLean meats as much as desired:

Turkey, fish, free-range, antibiotic-free chicken, shrimp, mollusks and omega-3 rich, low mercury fish (sardines, wild caught Pacific salmon-safest is sockeye).

Beware of unlabeled fish:

It is usually farm raised and therefore toxic. The biggest culprit is tilapia. In many places, they spray farmed tilapia with pesticides to kill sea lice-YUK!


Unlimited including yolks. There is now no evidence consumption of dietary cholesterol impacts our NMR cholesterol profiles. The best way to prepare them is hard boiled. Of course, these also need to be from chickens “treated well” as per above guidelines.

Lean beef or other “game” meats such as venison:

3 times per week is the maximum.

You want free range, grass-fed, no hormones, no antibiotics, only organic sources. If any inflammation markers are up or you have an inflammatory disease, eliminate the red meat sources of protein due to the high amount of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. In fact, research has shown grass-fed beef to contain fewer omega-6 fatty acids. If you are a meat lover, I’ll show you how to counter the effects at the end of the anti-inflammatory diet plan.


In the form of tempeh and or tofu, it can be used for 2-3 meals per week if non-GMO and organic.


1-2 serving per day. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts and brazil nuts are the best. There is actual evidence that this lowers mortality.

Sorry! On the anti-inflammatory diet plan, there’s no room for roasted peanuts. Why? Because they are roasted at temps too high, are a “bean,” not a nut, and the fat turns toxic (more about toxic fat below).

Full-fat dairy, meaning greek yogurt:

Note: Non-fat and low-fat foods tend always to have additives we want to avoid. 

2-3 servings per week is the max, but the ideal is zero. This is the max on this on the anti-inflammatory diet and here’s why.

There is now evidence linking the casein in milk products to cancer (possibly) and auto-immune disease (probably) which is why we ask that you avoid all other dairy other than the non-pastuerized greek yogurt and cheese. 

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Cornell University and lead author of The China Study has reviewed many studies to conclude that casein is indeed a problem.

Dr. Campbell’s work is regarded as the definitive epidemiological examination of the relationship between diet and disease. He has authored more than 300 research papers on this subject. If the cancer connection weren’t bad enough, dairy products are full of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, so unsweetened almond milk is ideal as your “milk beverage,” but buy it fortified with calcium. Note that a good whey protein powder does not contain casein; but this is very difficult to find and confirm.

UPDATE 7/2018: The evidence is in that casein is indeed the problem when it comes to inflammation but there is good news. Casein is produced by “A1 cows” and A2 cows produce casein-free milk! I therefore now allow some A2 cheese and full fat cream cheese and sour cream as long as it is “raw”, meaning unpasteurized; making it harmful for your gut microbiome. More details are found in my autoimmune diet plan.   

Vegetables allowed in your anti-inflammatory diet:

As much as desired (aim for a minimum of 12 servings per day): broccoli, green beans, spinach, leaf lettuce and other greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, etc. Avoid high-density carbohydrate vegetables (high glycemic) such as potatoes and corn.

Bummer alert:

I know you love corn on the cob (ME TOO!)

However, your body treats this yummy veggie as if it were sugar. So, it’s just not on the anti-inflammatory diet.


Use only olive oil for salads, and cook with coconut oil. Heated olive oil produces toxic AGE’s (advanced glycation end products).

Avoid trans-fats like the plague and minimize saturated fats as much as you can from meat sources. Non-meat saturated fats are healthy, and we now know you can eat them like crazy. An example are avocados! Yum! 

Allowed starches:

1-3 servings daily

The anti-inflammatory diet plan is clear about recommending no un-sprouted “whole grain products.” Why? Because we now know un-sprouted grains make our bodies react the same as if we ate pure sugar. Meaning, eat only sprouted grains. Additionally, there is a discussion in the literature and a high probability that grains (un-sprouted) and gluten are inherently inflammatory, especially bad for brains. I don’t eat gluten, and rarely grains (always sprouted.) I also make sure my older and MCI patients do the same.

You CAN eat:

SPROUTED gluten free bread, and any other sprouted grain products which are not processed.

This includes: Quinoa (in its sprouted grain form), sprouted brown rice, any other gluten-free sprouted grains and gluten-free pasta made from legumes or sprouted grains.

Processed grains are “inflammatory” and even small amounts of sugar + flour cause leptin resistance which is highly linked to weight gain and unexplained weight gain as yet another issue with grains.
Also, as far as “starches” go, the BEST are “root vegetables” such as radishes, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, and carrots.


1-3 servings daily: only whole, fresh fruit.

Best fruits include berries of all types, apples, and grapefruit.

Just be careful not to mix grapefruit with statin drugs.

No juices (or only a splash meaning a TBSP of juice in a large water bottle for taste is fine) because they are all high in sugar. Look at the labels, and you’ll see.


Limit to 3 cups daily.

Decaf herbal tea: 



Stevia (available in grocery and health food stores in liquid, powder, packets). Use no other artificial sweeteners!

Also, be careful of fillers.

Other artificial sweeteners wreak havoc with your body.


One glass of red wine daily is optimal.

The “hops” in beer in small quantities is anti-inflammatory.

However, watch the unsprouted “carb” factor with this.

Also, some beers contain gluten and not just wheat beers.

The healthiest hard liquors are clear.

Foods to avoid:

Sugar, fruit juice, refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta), “low fat” labeled foods, high starch vegetables, white potatoes (white on the inside), corn, and processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, etc.) as well as all processed foods.

If some food has ingredients on the label you don’t understand, run! If there are more than 3-4 ingredients, usually, also run!

Most processed foods contain either corn starch (GMO!) and/or HFCS which is getting re-named by what I call “cheating companies” but is still high fructose corn syrup (worse than sugar and is GMO!)

Food additives to avoid because they kill brain cells:

Without burdening you with an enormous list, here are the top 4 culprits which just kill off brain cells like crazy (much worse than alcohol.) Aspartame (Equal), Sucralose (Splenda), MSG, and the fake butter flavoring on popcorn in microwave popcorn and movie popcorn. It’s called diacetyl. Notably, eating an inflammatory diet full of the foods on the “bad for you” list are also associated with MCI and short term memory loss leading to Alzheimer’s.

Specifically, anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate as much as you can, while keeping it organic and non-GMO: broccoli, chick peas, and lots of ginger in either “strip” or powdered form, along with daily tomato juice prepared to your liking!

All diets need to be adjusted based upon an individual’s health status. Needless to say grilled food (highly carcinogenic) is out.  A recent study showed that meats soaked in beer (of all things!) cooked up with less toxic amines, but they were still present.

Now, this anti-inflammatory diet makes you eat “perfectly, ” and of course you can’t change “all at once” if you are eating an all-American diet. You can make one important change each month, more if you can, but no “demerits from me” if you cannot. You truly “are what you eat.” Of any health intervention we can do, eating properly is by far the most important! Next time you reach for that brownie, ask yourself “Is this more important than my health?” I think you’ll agree it’s not.

What supplements are a must with an anti-inflammatory diet plan?

In short, by now I think everyone knows curcumin is the wonder supplement. It’s not only anti-inflammatory. In fact, it’s good for many many things including your brain. 

Why fish oils?

Because no matter what I tell you, your diet will contain too many Omega-6’s and not enough Omega-3’s for one thing. Especially you guys trying to muscle up. Fish oils have tons of great health benefits. They are anti-inflammatory; useful for all inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, etc.

They are good for heart health; beneficial in hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke prevention. In addition, they support a healthy lipid profile; total cholesterol, LDLs, HDLs and we’re talking about LDL particles (remember the serum values are not worthwhile with LDL measurement).

Fish oils help to reduce the inflammation that impedes weight loss. They are good for your immune system and are useful in the management of inflammatory disorders and even allergies. They are great for your brain and for depression too. Further, they reduce urinary calcium excretion so are good for your bones. They also help skin health and skin appearance by helping acne, eczema, and psoriasis. 

When you are purchasing FO supplements, you must purchase pharmaceutical grade  or else you have a good chance of mercury toxicity and more “bad stuff.” In short, these are not things to buy over the counter. Also, you should get a DHA to EPA ratio of at least 3:1.  

Do you get enough nutrients by eating this or any other way? Here’s my honest opinion after testing vitamin and anti-oxidant levels for 20+ years;no one eats enough fruits and veggies to get what they need so I always recommend a great multi with fish oil. Always, always.


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