A Q&A with Dr. Perricone: An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Fit for a Man
Q: I have followed the Perricone Prescription since my mother-in-law gave me the book. How do you apply this diet to a 6’4” 220lb man? I know he would feel better, so any suggestions on how to slowly change his diet would be appreciated. Salmon is not one of his favorites; is there an alternative? —Nora
I often get asked this very question. Since I have a number of celebrity patients, many people think that my anti-inflammatory diet is geared toward women; but men often crave foods that they perceive to be more satisfying—especially a big, juicy steak.
Sure, eating plenty of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables is ideal for creating more beautiful-looking skin and helping to eliminate body fat; but in essence it does much more, making it ideal for men as well. In fact, if your goal is a physique that rivals Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt, Usher, Taye Diggs, Christian Bale, David Beckham or Mark Wahlberg, following the Perricone Program is for you.
The good news is that you don’t have to forgo that steak to keep your diet from being pro-inflammatory (and thus, age-accelerating).
The Grass is Always Greener…
Most men that I know enjoy eating red meat, but they’re told to steer clear (no pun intended) because of high levels of pro-inflammatory saturated fats. However, there’s a healthy alternative to the meat found on most grocery store shelves—that is 100% grass-fed, pasture-raised beef and lamb. When it comes to lamb, all New Zealand and Australian lamb is grass-fed. We have to be a little more creative when it comes to beef, but just about every state in the union has farms that raise beef on grass and hay as opposed to grain.
Part of the rise in obesity can be attributed to the changes in the way we raise beef and other animals. Grass-fed beef is up to three times leaner than grain-fed beef, and can have up to 15 fewer calories per ounce. Grass-fed meat also provides more balanced omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids, which help guard against a variety of ailments. It’s also a great source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that offers a number of health benefits such as helping to prevent the muscle loss associated with aging and disease.
Researchers have also compared the key antioxidants in meat from pasture-fed and grain-fed cattle. The grass-fed meat was higher in vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid; it was also ten times higher in beta-carotene. These health benefits decline significantly after just three months of grain feeding, even if the grain is organic.
I also recommend organic free-range chicken, and organic omega-3 eggs from free-range chickens. While many people feel that spending a little more on organic foods isn’t worth it, let me tell you this—the health benefits are both immediate and long-term.
With the re-introduction of pasture-raised beef and free-range chickens, we can now eat more like our grandparents and earlier generations—a time when obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many other diseases were much less prevalent.
A Diet You’ll Actually Enjoy
In creating the anti-inflammatory diet, I have discovered that the greatest gift I can give my readers and viewers is permission to eat healthy and delicious food.
As an avid weight lifter and runner since the age of 16, keeping body fat down while maintaining muscle mass has been an important goal. This applies to both men and women, because as we age we gain 10 pounds of fat and lose 5 pounds of muscle with each decade. Kind of a grim fact, right?
But cheer up, because there’s good news—this trend is reversible, and it starts with the foods we eat. Every day we need to make sure our diet includes the following:
- High-quality protein, like that found in fish, shellfish, poultry, grass-fed beef and lamb and tofu
- Low-glycemic carbohydrates including colorful fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as old-fashioned oatmeal, legumes such as beans and lentils
healthy fats, such as those found in cold water fish (especially wild Alaskan salmon, halibut, sardines, herring, anchovies, etc.), nuts, seeds, and olive oil
- 6-8 glasses of pure spring water per day
- Antioxidant-rich beverages such as green tea