The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan
Monica Rainagel Reviewed by Lona Sandon, MEd, RD Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson January 2007
Inflammation is at the root of many chronic illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. The typical American diet promotes inflammation in the body. Certain foods promote inflammation while others stop inflammation. Choosing foods based on their inflammatory (IF) rating can decrease risk and symptoms of chronic illness and help you lose excess weight.
There are three plans: Therapeutic, Prevention/Maintenance and Reduced Calorie Plan. With each plan, it is recommended to take a fish oil, calcium, multivitamin and mineral supplement. The plan you follow is based on your answers to five health history type questions and severity of symptoms like joint stiffness, runny nose, itchy eyes and scratchy throat. The Therapeutic and Prevention/Maintenance plans are based on a 2,000-calorie diet with target values for IF rating of 200 and 50 respectively, total 65 grams of fat and 250 grams of carbohydrate. The Reduced Calorie plan is based on 1,600 calories and is intended for those who are more than 10 pounds overweight, over 55, sedentary or of small build. The IF target values for the Reduced Calorie plan are the same as the other plans, but total fat and carbohydrates are lower to keep calories lower.
The book includes sample meal plans to help get readers started using the IF rating system, and recipes used in the meal plans. Worksheets (complete with tables of IF ratings for over 1,000 foods) are also provided so readers may create their own meal plans. The author recommends creating an electronic spreadsheet to help calculate the target values for individualized plans.
Nutritional Pros and Cons:
All three diet plans encourage choosing foods from all food groups. No food is forbidden and moderation is stressed. The plans specify a variety of healthy portions of vegetables and also include heart-healthy fats. While the calorie recommendations are reasonable, the meal plans come up short on calcium and vitamin D, and possibly short on potassium and vitamin E.
Overall, the pre-made meal plans are fairly balanced and provide variety within reasonable calorie levels. The drawback is the IF rating system will take time to master, and readers will spend a lot of time planning menus while adding and subtracting IF values for each food. For anyone who thinks adding up calories and fat grams is too much work, this plan is not for you. There is little scientific evidence to support that high glycemic index foods - mainly fruits in this case - cause inflammation and the IF rating system has not been scientifically tested. Following the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines is a simpler way to eat right.