Thursday, June 17, 2010

Anti-Inflammatory Foods Diet, Part II

Wow, much more of a response to the initial post than I ever would have expected! Very cool to hear everyone’s thoughts. Jon (from SwiCycloRun) and Don both mentioned the similarities to the Paleo Diet, which I was unaware of. Jeff (Dangle the Carrot), AngieB (Barefoot-AngieB), Andriana (Run4May), Patrick (The Road) all were aghast that coffee was mentioned. Jon and Mandy (Caratunk Girl) would miss grapefruit, as would KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) and Kim (Somewhere in the Sun) amongst other things. Lack of Diary was the deal-breaker for Emz (If I can’t convince you—I’ll at least confuse you) Constantin (Highball Blog) asked about fitness effects and Barbie (Trying a Tri) sounded like she was thinking about trying it herself.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, heck, I don’t even play one on TV). I am not an advocate of the Paleo Diet, the Anti-Inflammatory Foods Diet or any diet referenced before or after this moment in my life. I’m not trained as a nutritionist. I don’t know Dr. Weill or his work, but he as gotten millions to think about diet and health, so kudos to him for that. This was a list of foods suggested to me by my doctor in response to my goals and the results of my bloodwork. As with most “diets,” this may or may not work for anyone else, and you should consult a nutritionist or doctor to make sure it is safe for you.

That being said, of course I have my own opinion. As mentioned above, this list was created in response to my dual goals of losing weight and reducing my cholesterol. This all has to do with my health and nothing to do with fitness. Prior to meeting with this doctor, I had stopped eating red meat and severely curtailed my bread (pasta, bread) intake to basically nothing, adding red rice yeast as a natural statin. In the 30 days of this, I dropped 8 pounds and my total cholesterol went down 50 points. It seems to be working.

Fitness: When I started this, I was battling pre-plantar fasciitis, plantar fasciitis, or some such ailment in my foot, so I’m not sure if this is helping. Pretty much every study I’ve ever read has stated that there is a direct correlation between losing excess weight and improving fitness and performance. The few runs I’ve gotten in since the pain in my arch went away have been uniformly pleasant and relatively easy, so I’m guessing the weight loss has helped.

Oranges/Grapefruits: Since I’m using red rice yeast to help lower my cholesterol, I need to eliminate these, as well as other citrus, to limit any action between the citrus and the naturally-occuring statins in the red rice yeast.

Dairy: Difficult, yes, but I once gave up dairy and almost immediately lost a bunch of weight and felt much better than I had in years. Dairy is not a natural thing for humans to ingest and, while most people tolerate it fairly well and it tastes delicious, it’s definitely an extra.

Coffee: Love coffee, but I don’t interact with it strongly, unless I just drink way too much. I’m still thinking about this one, but switching to green tea wouldn’t be a real hardship.

Alcohol: A glass of wine with dinner seems innocuous enough, and there are plenty of studies that show moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial. That being said, it packs quite a caloric wallop, so, if I need to lose more weight, it’s gone. Otherwise, it will remain a glass of wine, a loaf of bread (oops, not) and thou (actually, my wife, not thou, but thanks for the interest).

So, overall it’s not really anything I need, and mostly not things I’ll miss. My main goals is to reduce, then eliminate the amount of processed food I eat. That means more salad and vegetables, more whole fruit, no meat, more beans, no dairy, no breads, no alcohol, no coffee. My motivation? Completely and utterly my family (little Phil Liggett/Paul Sherwyn for ya). I have young children (and another on the way), so I want to be around and healthy for as long as it is physically possible. If the side benefits include being a faster runner, more efficient cyclist, and improving my swim (who am I kidding, I’ll never be a good swimmer!), then I’ll be happy.

Thanks for the responses, the comments, the opinions. It’s great we’re chatting. Take what you want from this. Plan your diet carefully, consult a doctor or nutritionist to make sure what you are trying is right for you, and go out and be healthy and happy. Or, don’t.


  1. I am loving this.

    I am going to try to give-up dairy [tsk, again]. I love these healthy eating posts.

    I am going to tape this quote to my cheese drawer . . . "Dairy is not a natural thing for humans to ingest and, while most people tolerate it fairly well and it tastes delicious, it’s definitely an extra"

    Thank you!!

  2. I'm just going to throw this out.

    Get it on the citrus/red rice thing. I don't know the interaction to be true personally, but for the purposes of this I'll assume your doctor is on the ball. Also I understand that there is an anti-inflammatory slant to what you are saying that I do not address below either.

    But here is something to think about. According to a quick search I just did, Spain's obesity rate is just under half of the US. France and Italy is roughly a third. What are staples of those countries diets? Breads, Pastas, Sauces, Coffee, Wine, Cheese, etc.

    What's the difference? Portions.

    Americans are obsessed with drastic measures. We feel that the only way to correct a sharp right turn is to throw the wheel to the left. I'm guilty of it for sure.

    So while I tend to agree with specific arguments about certain foods, I would suggest dealing with it by focusing on moderation. We only live once and there is not reason to suffer or deny ourselves. Just eat less of some things and enjoy life.

    Of course it's hard with supersizing, Venti coffees and family style restaurants where the kids meal is still on a platter. And anyone in every urban or suburban setting can go out and get 5000 calories with $6 24 hours a day. Gotta love America.

    That's my 2 cents anyway. Not trying to cause a major debate...

  3. Absolutely Patrick and if I could do it, I would consider it. And, while your argument regarding those other countries may have been true at one time, the entire world is getting fatter by eating just those foods. When the world was agricultural and working the fields for 10 or 12 hours was the norm, eating like this wasn't too bad. now, however.... If I could eat what I wanted, limiting portion sizes, and be healthy, I would do it. But I can't. Plus, this isn't just to be somewhat healthy, this is to repair damage done and become MUCH more healthy. To each his own, for sure. Appreciate your 2 cents!

  4. Here's where I got the stats.

    Whether or not they are creeping up, I don't know - it was a quick 3 minute search and this website and didn't look for historical trends. I suspect you are right because what I forgot to mention was processed foods - another American thing. We may not be the only ones doing it, but we are leading the race by miles. I'm sure I could find Cheetos in almost every country in the world.

    So I would have to modify my position and say moderation of non processed foods.

    Back to you...

  5. Awesome resource. Check this out: "Technological change suggests that what has happened is that fewer want to pay the price, in effort, expense, or forgone pleasure, of limiting their weight given the higher costs of doing so when work is sedentary and food cheap." (from HEALTH ECONOMICS Health Econ. 10: 1–7 (2001)

    Definitely in agreement with the proceesed food thing.


    This chart is pretty much my life.. I dont eat meat.. Havnt for a long time, way before running, I do eat some pitas with hummus on occasion thats my bread, or a bagel a week before a race.. But this plan keeps me light, happy, healthy and fast..

    When people at work ask me if I am eating my "bunny food again" I say- "why yes.. yes I am, its only going to make me faster!"

  7. Yup, the health benefits are far more important than the fitness/performance aspects. I think about stuff like that myself - I'll be a father perhaps in the following years and I want to be in good shape for taking care of my kids (and also inspire them into sports as well).

    I don't eat scientifically but I am careful about not eating too much and about eating right (fruit, whole bread, etc.)

    I usually gain weight fast and loose it just as fast (4 pounds per week +/-) :-)


  8. This whole conversation...from both your posts on nutrition has me fascinated. I actually just wrote a post asking other bloggers their opinions on nutrition...I'm trying to find a way to make it work for me.

    I'm asthmatic and rarely eat dairy...I even quit completely for many months at a time...but, once in a while I cheat and these days, it's happening a little more. But, I've been told by nutritionists, doctors, acupuncturists...etc...that dairy and asthma are not a good match.

    Thanks for this...and I'll be following along for sure :)


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