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The Anti-Inflammatory Solution
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a normal and much needed bodily function. It’s the response of your immune system working to heal wounds and fight infection. Sometimes the process can go into overdrive, constantly churning out excessive inflammatory compounds.
Chronic inflammation has negative effects on our bodies and is involved in other chronic diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis).
How Does Diet Impact Inflammation?
A high intake of foods rich in saturated and trans fats, refined grains and added sugars can promote inflammation. Not surprisingly, many pro-inflammatory foods like fatty meats, fried fast food and sugary soft drinks are bad for our health. And many contribute to weigh gain, which itself can also promote inflammation.
Conversely, components in foods such as antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and natural plant compounds called phytochemicals have anti-inflammatory actions in the body.
The #GlobalGlowLifestyle isn’t about restriction and cutting out entire food groups, and making your life miserable. The Global Glow approach is a “crowding out” approach, where eating more good stuff to crowd out the bad takes centre stage.
I put together this anti-inflammatory food guide to help!
Picture credit: @lauraponts
1. Load up on veggies
It’s pretty simple. You can’t go wrong with vegetables. Veggies should be at the base of your anti-inflammatory diet – they should take up at least 50% of your plate during lunch and dinner!
Veggies are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin C. When it comes to eating them, don’t be shy!
And don’t forget, organic is always best if you have the option – especially for spinach, kale, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes.
- Greens (Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Bok Choy)
2. Don’t be afraid of fruit!
Eating fruits regularly benefits your body as they are natural sources of vitamins and minerals, and they are super hydrating! It’s important to know when to eat fruit to be able to reap their full benefits. Since fruit digest very quickly, it is always best to have them first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. If not, it is fine to have them as a snack in between meals, as long as you give your digestion a 3 to 4 hour break before eating them.
High in flavonoids and carotenoids (just like vegetables), picking low GI fruit is a great way to sweeten up your everyday! We recommend 2 to 4 servings of fruit a day and prioritizing berries over other fruit.
Note: Keep in mind that dehydrated fruit are higher in sugar. It’s best to only have a few at a time as they expand in your stomach and can cause bloating. Remember that fresh is always best!
3. Drink Up!
You should be drinking filtered water all day, everyday. I tell my clients to make a habit out of always having a BPA free reusable water bottle on them at all times.
Water helps stabilize appetite, but most importantly, is essential to our bodies – we need it to survive.
Get creative! Add berries, lemon, cucumber, and/or herbs (I love mint) to your water to switch up the flavour and reap the benefits.
I also like adding collagen to our water – it’s flavourless and super beneficial for the body!
Picture credit: @carleyscamera
4. Eat more lean protein
One of the healthiest sources of protein and omega-3 fats comes straight from the deep blue sea. I always recommend to integrate organic fish in your diet due to all its health benefits.
I normally like to eat fish at least twice a week and recommend a krill oil supplement when consumption gets on the low side, for the extra omega-3s. Remember, when it comes to fish, WILD or ORGANIC is a necessity. Stay alert when it comes to mercury levels – farmed fish can be filled with mercury and artificial colouring.
My favourites include wild organic salmon, black cod, and Mediterranean seabass.
Others sources of animal protein I love are chicken and eggs. I try to opt for organic and free-range/cage-free when possible.
There are also a ton of vegan protein sources out there that I love such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, lentils, and chickpeas. I tend to stay away from soy since it may be inflammatory – depending on the person. If I have soy, I opt for organic tempeh, since it is less processed than tofu. Another vegan protein source I love is the WelleCo Nourishing Protein!
This Vegan Protein Powder is another staple in my kitchen. I love to have it for breakfast in a smoothie or as a snack. The combination of organic pea and rice protein provides all 9 essential amino acids, and keeps you satiated! I like to switch it up between the Cacao and Vanilla flavours.
5. Get creative with your sides
I love to switch up our sides and include healthy whole grains, zucchini noodles, or roasted veggies.
My favourites include brown rice, quinoa, roasted squash and sweet potato. There are so many fun recipes out there!
Here is a list of my go-to, easy peasy recipes that might inspire you:
6. Load up on healthy fats
Healthy fats are a key part of an anti-inflammatory diet. We try to incorporate them into every meal. They balance blood sugar and promote satiety, and are amazing for mood and hormonal health. Healthy fat sources are essential for brain health – they can even reduce dementia risks!
My favourite sources include extra-virgin olive oil, cold pressed coconut oil or MCT oil, avocado oil, and ghee. I also love avocados, seeds, nuts – and organic salmon which is one of the healthiest fats available!
Picture credit: The Spruce Eats
7. Spice up your life
Herbs and spices make food tastier while boosting your health. You should be cooking with herbs and spices regularly. They help flight inflammation and reduce damage to your body’s cells – each one is rich in phytochemicals which are healthful plant chemicals.
Because they are so flavourful, they also make it easier to cut back on less healthy ingredients like salt, sugar, and added fat.
- Turmeric: powerful anti-inflammatory
- Ginger: digestion aid, anti-bacterial, and powerful anti-inflammatory
- Cayenne Pepper: increases blood flow and might have anti-cancer properties
- Garlic: boosts the immune system, combats sickness, and improves heart health
- Rosemary: can help treat allergies and nasal congestion
- Cinnamon: lowers blood sugar levels
8. Let’s indulge a little – it’s all about balance!
What About Wine?
Yes please! Don’t get me wrong. I will be the first to tell you to drink a bunch of water throughout the day… I will also be the first to tell you to go ahead, have a glass of wine during dinner! Red wine is actually beneficial as it contains resveratol, a powerful antioxidant.
When choosing wine, I try to stay away from sulphites (preservatives) which can often trigger an inflammatory reaction and leave you with a pounding headache the next day. I opt for organic wines that are lower in sugar – ideally less than 2-3 grams of sugar per liter. I like dry wines such as Italian Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dark chocolate is a great source of polyphenols and antioxidants. It’s considered one of the most powerful superfoods (when in it’s natural state)!. As long as it’s 70% or more, you’re good to go! Try to get dark chocolate that has minimal ingredients and that is made of real cacao. I like having one square or two, after lunch or dinner on days where I need to satisfy my sweet tooth!
Here’s a little recap on how to begin my suggested anti-inflammatory guide:
- Load up on veggies
- Include low GI fruit
- Drink tons of water
- Include lean protein
- Get creative with whole grains and your side dishes
- Include healthy fat in your diet
- Try to cook with spices to flavour your dishes
- Let yourself indulge when needed – balance is important!
Find out more about ways to optimize your health – read JK’s Body & Mind Nutrition Theory
Live your life. Adopt the Global Glow Lifestyle.