What You Can (and Can’t) Eat on Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet

INFLAMMATION HAS BEEN linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, GI disorders, and mental health conditions. It’s often said that what you eat (or don’t eat) can influence how much inflammation your body is dealing with.

Some level of inflammation is an important way for your body to protect itself. Your immune system sends out an inflammatory response to fight viruses, bacteria, or toxins, according to the National Institutes of Health. But, many people have chronic inflammation, where your body keeps sending these inflammatory signals even though there’s no threat, and that’s when it can be harmful.

Several anti-inflammatory diets out there claim to reduce chronic inflammation and minimize your risk for health problems. One is Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet, created by Andrew Weil, an integrative medicine physician.

“It’s a lifestyle of eating,” says registered dietitian Libby Mills, L.D.N. “One of the most important things is that Andrew Weil’s diet focuses on whole foods, and within those recommendations, it allows for a lot of variety.”

By focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, and avoiding ultra-processed foods, Mills says over time, the eating pattern can result in lower inflammation, which can help manage your weight, blood pressure, and overall health, while increasing your energy levels.

Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet isn’t meant to be a short-term solution, explains Cara Harbstreet, R.D., L.D., founder of Street Smart Nutrition. “It’s a nourishing way of eating, but may be difficult to follow.”

When you’re used to grabbing most of your meals from a drive-through or buying ready-made dinners, you might struggle when faced with having to chop and cook fresh ingredients—at least at first, Harbstreet says.

However, switching to this anti-inflammatory diet brings many health benefits. Here’s everything you need to know about Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet:

What is Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet is designed to reduce chronic inflammation and related chronic diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and others, Harbstreet says. It also aims to support healthy aging and vitality.

man standing happiness on the kitchen and preparing food

franckreporter//Getty Images

As Dr. Weil’s website states, “Learning how specific foods influence the inflammatory process is the best strategy for containing it and reducing long-term disease risks.”

Unlike other diets, this one isn’t centered on weight loss or meant to be followed short term, Harbstreet adds.

Instead, the goal is to inspire better health in general, says registered dietitian nutritionist Su-Nui Escobar, D.C.N. “We’re giving the body all the nutrients that it needs and not giving it the things that actually cause disease.”

What You Can (and Can’t) Eat

Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet doesn’t set strict parameters for calorie intake or portion sizes. However, it does say a certain percentage of your calories should come from specific sources:

  • 40 percent to 50 percent from carbs
  • 30 percent from healthy fat
  • 20 percent to 30 percent from protein

Within these guidelines, the diet allows for a lot of variety, Mills says.


According to the diet’s food pyramid, most of your carb intake should come from fresh fruits and vegetables. Four to five servings of vegetables and three to four servings of fruits are recommended every day.

various vegetables and fruits in a eco shopping bag

Catherine Delahaye//Getty Images

Escobar says frozen fruits and vegetables can be substituted if fresh varieties aren’t accessible to you.

Three to five servings of whole or cracked grains, like brown rice, basmati rice, barley, steel-cut oats, or quinoa, every day are also included. So are one to two servings of beans and legumes.

Pasta (two to three servings), including rice, soba, and udon noodles, cooked al dente can be included every week.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats include extra-virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, nuts, avocados, and seeds. Five to seven servings, which is a teaspoon of oil, an ounce of avocado, or two walnuts, per day is recommended.

homemade gourmet food fresh green salad with mozzarella, mixed nuts and dry fruits

wenyi liu//Getty Images

Omega-3 fats from fish, enriched eggs, and whole-soy foods are also included.

The diet urges limiting saturated fats, like butter, and hydrogenated oils.


The diet emphasizes fish and shellfish as your main protein source and says you should eat two to six servings a week. This includes wild Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines, and black cod.

salmon on a serving plate on a table

Catherine Falls Commercial//Getty Images

One to two servings of whole soy, including tofu, tempeh, and edamame, are recommended every day.

Other protein sources, like skinless poultry, yogurt, eggs, or grass-fed lean mean, can be incorporated as one to two servings a week.

Other aspects of the diet

  • Daily supplements are recommended—including fish oil, vitamin D3, and a multivitamin/multimineral supplement.
  • Tea, especially, white, green, and oolong, is suggested over coffee.
  • Sweets should be limited, but 70% dark chocolate and fruit sorbet, are permitted in moderation.
  • Red wine is permitted, just keep intake to one to two glasses a day.
  • Unlimited amounts of cooked mushrooms, including shiitake, enokitake, or oyster mushrooms, are encouraged, as the diet’s guidelines say they aid immune function.

The Benefits of Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Chronic inflammation is harmful to your body since it can damage healthy cells. Sometimes genetics can cause your immune system to consistently attack healthy cells, according to the Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health. In other instances, lifestyle habits, like eating high-calorie, high-fat, and ultra-processed diets can increase inflammation.

chef uses the knife to slice tomato into smaller pieces for salad

Anchiy//Getty Images

So, it makes sense that switching to an anti-inflammatory diet could bring positive health outcomes, Harbstreet says, and the health benefits of many of the foods included in the diet are backed by science.

Eating more fruits and vegetables increases your intake of antioxidants and fiber, which can reduce cell stress, reduce inflammatory signals, boost healthy gut bacteria, and slow digestion. This can minimize surges in blood sugar and lower cholesterol, and generally offer heart health benefits, research shows.

Increased fiber intake also promotes GI health and can help people manage inflammatory bowel disease, studies show. It can also improve cholesterol levels. Other research shows that omega-3s, antioxidants, and fiber (all key components of the diet) can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The data indicates these nutrients can have a positive influence on health outcomes and are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic conditions,” Harbstreet says.

But, moving to an anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t guarantee that you’ll see these health improvements, she adds. Many conditions have a genetic component and still need traditional treatments, like medication.

Downsides of Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Adhering to the diet could be costly and time-consuming, Harbstreet says.

Many foods on the list, including fresh fish and seafood, can be pricy, she adds. If you buy organic fruits and vegetables and supplements, it can add to the cost.

Most health experts recommend getting all of your nutrients from food rather than supplements. So, if you’re eating multiple servings of fruits and veggies a day, along with lean protein and healthy fats, the supplements could be overkill.

Even though Dr. Weil suggests sipping on tea over coffee because of its antioxidant benefits, which he says fight inflammation, tea and coffee generally offer similar health benefits. So, giving up your morning cup of coffee likely isn’t necessary.

You’ll also need to spend more time on food prep and cooking, Harbstreet says. “This could be especially challenging with a busy schedule or if you simply don’t enjoy cooking and cleaning the kitchen.”

Keep in mind, too, that there’s plenty of research emphasizing the health benefits of anti-inflammatory diets, but there isn’t yet any on Dr. Weil’s specific diet.

Who should try the diet?

Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet, or something similar, is a plan most dietitians would recommend, Mills says. “It includes all the food groups. It emphasizes whole foods.”

Still, she recommends checking with your doctor before drastically changing your diet, especially if you have existing health conditions.

“Definitely eating real food and eating less processed foods will benefit anyone,” Escobar adds.

If the diet greatly differs from how you normally eat, Escobar suggests setting small, realistic, and achievable goals. For example, if you rarely eat fruits and vegetables, try adding them to a few meals a week, rather than every meal at first.

“Once you achieve that, you’ll feel empowered to move to the next one,” she says. “So, small goals, smart goals, and just keep moving forward.”

Headshot of Erica Sweeney

Erica Sweeney

Erica Sweeney is a writer who mostly covers health, wellness and careers. She has written for The New York Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Parade, Money, Business Insider and many more.

Read More


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here