"Inflammation" is a buzzword these days as researchers explore how it may contribute to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. Reinagel, a nutrition writer, and Torelli, a cardiologist, claim their diet reduces inflammation in your organs and tissues, helping you reduce the risk of disease and lose weight. In the lowest-calorie option, you eat about 1,600 calories a day, composed of 50 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. You're encouraged to eat as many inflammation-fighting foods as possible, selecting from a list of more than 1,500 items that have been given an inflammation-factor rating based on Reinagel's own research. For example, vegetables score high (meaning they're a good choice); poultry scores low.
We know that when our natural inflammatory response becomes chronic, it can cause damage (arthritis, for example). And there's some evidence that suggests excess body fat contributes to this kind of ongoing inflammation; also, that pro- and anti-inflammatory substances produced by the body may result in part from what we eat. Still, this diet is probably jumping the gun: "Given that research has yet to uncover all the dimensions of how inflammation happens, rating foods based on their effects is arbitrary and doesn't make much sense," says Popkin.
The experts, however, give the diet a big thumbs-up for overall health and weight loss: "The proportions of the diet and recommended food choices are very healthy," says Hensrud. While there's no reason to eliminate some of the proteins the diet rates as inflammation-causing (eggs and poultry, for example), the plan's other rules, like eating lots of fresh vegetables and avoiding refined carbohydrates (like white bread and rice), are some of the best for trimming your body and taking care of it in the long run.
The bottom line
The inflammation claim is a stretch, but you can lose weight and eat well on this plan.
Looking for more advice on new diets? Find our experts' analyses on the following diets in the August issue of O, The Oprah Magazine!
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