Anti-Inflammatory Foods to add to your diet

The food that you put into your system is so much more than just calories!

It’s foundation. It’s function. It’s information.

It affects every cell in your body, as well as your gene expression, making it powerful enough to even affect your state of well-being.

Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response that helps us heal. It’s what happens when you get a splinter and the whole area turns red and gets a bit puffy – that’s your immune system at work helping fight off any viruses or bacteria that might have gotten in, and that’s a good thing.

But when inflammation is constant or out-of-control it can damage the body. While experts have always thought anything with an “itis” at the end involved ongoing inflammation – such as arthritis or appendicitis, recent research shows that a much larger number of diseases, including heart disease, certain cancers, and possibly Alzheimer’s disease may also be triggered in part by chronic inflammation

Simply put, we have an inflammatory switch that either gets turned on/off with every food we eat. This makes food powerful enough to not only prevent, but also reverse and undo increased chronic inflammation, and as a result, the chronic diseases and conditions it causes.

So how do you control inflammation from raging a fire in your body? The answer lies in the foods we eat, and of course our lifestyle. Sticking to foods that are low on the Glycemic Index (GI) and that are rich in polyphenols & antioxidants are the way to go.

While there are plenty of foods to choose from, some great ones include :

Virgin Olive Oil : A staple in the Mediterranean diet, it’s a great and easy way to add anti-inflammatory food to your diet. A review of the compounds found in virgin olive oil, found that they act on a variety of inflammatory markers. In fact, one study found that benefits of the Mediterranean diet can largely be attributed to Virgin Olive Oil, especially the extra virgin kind. One thing to bear in mind with Olive oil though, it has a low smoke point. The more unrefined, the lower its smoke point, so Extra Virgin Olive Oil is best used as dressing, Virgin Olive Oil for sautéing and low heat cooking.


Tomato : Tomato contains lycopene. Cooked tomato contains more lycopene than raw tomato. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, that is also responsible for providing them with their bright red colour. Lycopene has been linked to health benefits ranging from heart health to protection against sunburns and certain types of cancers.


Cruciferous vegetables : Research suggests that eating a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts) may help reduce inflammation in your system. A study that looked at the dietary intake of over 1000 women found that those with high intakes of cruciferous vegetables had lower levels of inflammatory markers. Cruciferous vegetables, as well as dark green leafy vegetables, also tend to have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals—like calcium, iron, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. Since they can cause intestinal gas, if you’re not used to eating these kinds of vegetables, start adding a serving each week to give your body some time to adjust. Cutting them 40 minutes ahead of cooking is also helpful in reducing the enzyme that causes gas and bloating as is adding garlic, cumin, carom(ajwain( and asafoetida(hing)


Green tea & Matcha : Green tea contains a catechin called EGCG. Catechin is natural antioxidant compound that has been shown to provide protection against cellular damage and helpful in fighting cancer. Matcha, is a variant that is made of powdered young green tea leaves. Its EGCG content is ~140 times that of regular green tea.


Whole grains : A study of 80 obese participants found that those who ate a whole-grain cereal during the 8-week study showed a decrease in an inflammatory marker in the body. Researchers think one reason for the anti-inflammatory benefit is that whole grains have more fibre than refined grains, and fibre has been shown to reduce a marker for inflammation in the blood. Whole grains aside, Fibre itself helps your body increase the production of a type of protein that stimulates infection fighting T cells, which actually has a mood-boosting effect, so to speak, on immune cells — shifting them from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory! Foods like oats, mushrooms, and yeast contain a unique type of fibre called beta-glucans, which can support the immune system.

There are plenty of other anti-inflammatory foods you can choose from that are easy enough to incorporate into your diet on a daily basis.

How Stress affects the waistline and what you can do about it !

Stress refers to your body’s response to challenges that it may face. Stressors – factors leading to stress – can include everything from work to physical activity to family life to relationships to major life events or changes. Stress can be physical, mental, or emotional.

Perceived stress refers to the amount of stress that an individual feels he or she is under. Two people in the exact same situation may perceive the amount of stress caused by it completely differently. The degree to which stress is perceived will determine the degree to which a response is necessary to cope.

When faced with stressful situations, people have to find ways to cope appropriate with the level of stress perceived. Coping mechanisms may be different for everyone and wide-ranging, but one thing that many people turn to when faced with stress is food. Food offers a momentary escape or an immediate pleasurable experience in the midst of an unpleasant state, making it an attractive option for a quick fix to alleviate stress. 

Stress can be acute or chronic – both of which can affect your diet.

  • Acute stress refers to stress we experience for a brief amount of time. An example of this would be preparing for a big exam or presentation or running late for a meeting and being stuck in traffic. Acute stress is likely to increase your drive to eat even if you’re not hungry.
  • Chronic stress refers to stress that is experienced continuously over an extended period of time – typically over the course of months. Chronic stress takes a major toll on health and creates a pro-inflammatory state associated with a variety of chronic diseases – most notably obesity. Research has shown that chronic stress affects the specific foods that are consumed; it alters the brain’s response to highly palatable foods and leads to an increased drive to seek out such foods and exhibit disinhibited eating practices.

A small amount of stress (called eustress) can be beneficial. It may help increase focus and tap into the motivation needed to accomplish a difficult task. When stress becomes overwhelming and constant, on the other hand, it affects your health and emotional state and almost certainly will affect your diet.

During times of mild stress, people are often driven to eat more. During times of extreme stress, like a major life change or traumatic event, however, people may have less of a desire to eat. Once again, the degree to which stress is perceived will make a big difference in regard to eating behaviour.

Stress typically affects the diet in two ways: 

  1.  It affects our behaviours around food, driving what and how much we eat. 
  2. It creates the perfect scenario for fat storage and promotes an obesogenic state. 

Stress management may naturally help support a more nutritious diet, as it’s likely to reduce the instances when one is driven to consume high-calorie or high-sugar foods and may also help balance the hormones related to appetite and weight regulation. This may lead to better dietary choices and eating a diet more in line with your caloric needs.

Incorporating mindfulness-based practices 

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Focusing on only what you can control
  • Reducing Caffeine 
  • Organize your space to create a peaceful environment 
  • Tapping into your endorphins: laugh, dance, listen to music, whatever it takes!

Highly palatable foods may provide a form of short-term relief for some, but if the stressor isn’t addressed, preferences for these foods may strengthen and the risk for obesity may increase. Remember to always go back to the root cause. Determining how to alleviate stress can be difficult, but its impact on your health goes beyond your waistline and alleviating stress helps increase longevity, health, and happiness.

Roadmap to clear skin

Good Skin comes from the inside out, not the outside in !

Before I go in to details about what I mean by this, I want to tell you about my own experience with acne.

I never had it.

I had flawless skin, until I moved to a city with hot and humid climate at the age of 32. The climate changed, my stress levels were elevated at the thought of starting over, my food habits became different and exercise routine non-existent, because of the new environment I was in. 

Troubled by the occasional acne, which over time became deep and cystic, I recall going to a renowned Dermatologist, and when I mentioned to her that I believed Dairy was causing me to breakout, she stated there was absolutely no connection even though my body was telling me otherwise! I tried all sorts of topical treatments, facials, ran from pillar to post. Rock bottom came when the new dermatologist that was treating me for over a year and eventually asked me to get on Accutance, it usually a last resort drug when one is no longer sure what to do! It is a very powerful derivative of Vitamin A, during the course of which you are advised not to fall pregnant for atleast after 6 months. This shook me. Not that it was in my horizon, but anything that can potentially harm a fetus, should certainly not be going into your body and harming you either! I bought the medication because I felt so desperate, but after holding onto it for 3 days and not being able to take it I returned it, and knew I had to get to the root of my acne. Treating the symptom, rather than addressing the cause was not going to help me in the long run!

So what did I do?

I decided to take matters into my own hands! I started by cutting out dairy. I also evaluated everything else I ate. I healed my gut issues which I had dealt with ever since I was child, but didn’t think much of. I identified my food allergies and sensitivities, reduced inflammation, reincorporated exercise into my life, rebalanced my stress hormones and incorporated active relaxation into my life.

My acne cleared, I lost weight, felt energized and discovered my best self !

A miracle? Hardly!

Beautiful, vibrant, clear, healthy skin comes from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Here are some of the key things I learnt:

  • Diet matters
    • While your dermatologist may not specifically point this out, some newer age ones do. 
    • Acne is linked to foods which cause inflammation, therefore oxidative stress and eventually cellular damage.
    • Sugar raises insulin levels, which promotes the production of testosterone, inflammation in general and therefore acne
    • Saturated and processed fats compete with omega 3 in the body for absorption. The former promotes inflammation, the latter reduces it. 
    • Milk and dairy products are linked with acne, in part owning to IGF-1 growth hormone in dairy products and also the saturated fat content.
  • Gut health matters
    • While you may be eating “healthy”, certain foods may not necessarily be healthy for you. Allergens & food sensitivities disrupt your gut microbiome, can cause leaky gut and therefore cause acne. Common allergens are gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn and nuts.
    • Strengthening the gut lining that is disrupted, is key to maintaining healthy skin
    • Excretion of toxins daily is a must for healthy skin
    • Pre and Probiotics help with acne
  • Hormonal balance matters
    • Whether it is your sex hormones being out of balance, thyroid hormone or even your cortisol levels, balancing these out is imperative to clearing skin
    • One of the biggest factors affecting these hormones is the glycemic load of your diet, i.e. the rate at which your blood sugar and therefore insulin rises when eating carbohydrates
  • Nutrient optimization matters
    • Vitamin A, E and C are critical for skin health
    • Zinc, Iron, D3 and other deficiencies as well cause poor skin health
    • Antioxidants that fight free radical damage such as Glutathione, CoQ10, Astaxanthin are important
    • Omega 3, balancing omega 3 and 6 helps reduce inflammation
    • Anti-inflammatory foods are essential for reduction of inflammation caused by food
  • Lifestyle matters
    • Keep your stress levels in check, as it raises cortisol levels and therefore inflammation. Raised cortisol also depletes magnesium, zinc and selenium which contribute to skin health
    • Sweating it out helps
    • Lymphatic system stimulation helps, through dry brushing, cold showers, massage or exercise
    • As hard as it is, Not focusing on the acne helps!

Skin health is linked to everything as you can see! It’s so much more than slapping on a cream and hoping it does its thing ! You need to play your part. Your skin in distress is a sign of deeper imbalances. Pay attention and see what you can do to bring yourself in balance.

5 Morning Rituals to Jumpstart Your Day

Think of our bodies like batteries ! Ideally you wake up in the morning 100% charged, until you reach for your phone – only to find yourself  bombarded with whatsapp messages, emails, pressing news stories all whilst rushing to get the kids out of the door for school and making sure you are not late getting your day/ work started !

You almost immediately drop to maybe 80% by the time you’re done with all of this. It might not be obvious, but subconsciously running to your to-do list and social media first thing in the morning is both physically and mentally draining. You can learn to change your energy level by changing your morning routine. 

By changing my own, which used to be very similar to the above, I feel way more focused, mindful and intentional about my day. Overall, it has made me much happier and better prepared to take on stressors that come up in the day. It’s made me come to the realization that what you do in the morning has a powerful and long lasting impact on your day.

  • Hydrate : I generally start my days with a cap full of apple cider vinegar in 10ml of water. As some with digestive issues that is great for boosting stomach HCL that helps with digestion. It has eliminated heartburn, acid reflux and regulated my system in a way that nothing else has. Follow this up after 15 minutes with my favourite juice, which changes depending on what I am feeling like on that day. Rule of thumb for juicing is preferably all vegetables, or 1 part fruit for every 3 parts of vegetables, if you like. Pure celery juice is also a favourite as it cleanses your system and keeps your gut lining strong. Even good ol’ water is a great way to stay the day! Stay away from caffeine for the first 60 minutes after waking up as your Cortisol levels, stress hormone, are naturally the highest when you wake up.
  • Add some movement : Get active ! Could be a short walk, Light stretching, yoga  or even a quick workout is a great way to get the heart rate up which boosts your endorphins, or happy hormones, and is a great way to start the day. Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes, preferably in the outdoors, it is great way to get the blood flowing and get you energized for the day. Being out in nature has been proven to have a calming effect and will alleviate any feelings of stress, anxiety and a general low mood.
  • Meditation and Breathing : While many find meditation hard at first, the idea is train the mind so that eventually you experience more peace and harmony through the day. Meditation has been proven to change brain chemistry and specifically how we respond to situations after an 8-week period. The best way to ease yourself into meditation is to start with a breathing practice which activates your Parasympathic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest part of the nervous system. This makes it easier to transition in a meditative start. A guided meditation is also a great starting point.
  • Set an intention for the day : After breathing/meditating, I like to set an intention for my day either in terms of how I conduct myself, respond to situations and/or the quality of my day. I find that saying this out loud, makes you more accountable to upholding it and following through. It could be the same everyday or could be different depending on how you feel that morning, what happened the previous day or it could also be in relation to what the rest of your day is looking like.
  • Eat Breakfast : Breaking your fast with a nourishing balanced meal of complex carbs, quality protein, good fats with adequate micronutrients is essential to starting your day right ! Eating not enough calories or meals that are not balanced, usually send your blood sugar levels out of control and cause you to binge, not eat the right foods and for some eat at all odd hours as well. 

Check in with yourself to see what your current morning routine is like and how it affects the rest of your day. Start with one small change, pick any from this list and see how it positively impacts you.

5 roadblocks in your wellness path and how to blast right through them

When I started out on my wellness journey, like many others, my goal was more related to my physical appearance than anything else and it was all about ensuring that my calorie intake was low and I exercised very hard. Exercise was seen as punishment, and food as a source of energy to fuel the exercise. As I grew more knowledgeable, lived through various issues that stemmed from my erratic food and lifestyle habits and eventually took the route to educate myself, I gained the awareness that wellness is so much more than just looking a certain way. It is about nourishing yourself – body, mind and spirit. It is about nurturing yourself, paying close attention and listening  to the cues your body gives you and honouring yourself enough to follow through.

While food is foundational to wellbeing, there are other factors that also work in tandem with food to work on your weight and overall well being. What are they and how do you control them?

  • Staying on top of stress: As humans, we are hardwired to respond to stress – good and bad, by the release of cortisol and adrenaline, our fight or flight hormone response.

This is perfectly healthy and required in a real emergency, say when you are being chased by bear, but if you are constantly getting stressed out by interpersonal relationships, work, finances etc. over time you will burn out and wreak havoc in your body ! 

Ever notice how in stressful situations you are more likely to reach for highly palatable carb and sugar rich foods ? As a result, stress can drive weight issues, mental well-being, sleep and overall physical well-being. It’s all connected !! Look to incorporate mindfulness, active relaxation such as breathing and meditation, listening to your favourite tunes and anything else that relaxes you and increases the happy hormones!

  • Inflammation : We have an inflammatory switch that either gets turned on/off with every food we eat. This makes food powerful enough to not only prevent, but also reverse and undo increased chronic inflammation, and as a result the chronic disease and conditions it causes. 

Refined, processed, nutrient deficient foods are pro-inflammatory which turn the switch on, and whole nutrient dense, antioxidant, micronutrient rich foods turn it off. So be more mindful of what you are ingesting, not only would you be setting yourself up for long-term health and wellbeing but weight loss would automatically be a nice by-product of an anti-inflammatory style of eating.  

  • Hormonal imbalance : Hormonal imbalances especially in women, can cause you to gain and hold on to weight. Specially the thyroid hormone which helps in metabolism and overall energy, the female reproductive hormones when not in balance can cause PCOD which also is another factor which makes it difficult to lose weight. Stress hormone cortisol as mentioned about is another one to look at. All of these can easily be detected through lab testing, and once determined can be balanced by making corresponding nutritional & lifestyle shifts.
  • Gut dysbiosis : Did you know – 70% of your immune system lies in your gut?  What is happening in your gut therefore is directly related to what is happening with your health. Poor immunity could be related to gut issues which stem from yeast, bacteria, parasite overgrowth or dysbiosis and/or food allergies even. 

Food allergies can be a big contributor to a poor immune system. You might be on a so called healthy diet, eating kale smoothies for breakfast and quinoa for dinner, but for all you know you could be sensitive/ allergic to these healthy foods, which in turn does more damage than good to your system. Which was exactly the case with me!

Your body is constantly battling these foreign substances which lowers your immunity over time and leads to increased inflammation as your body is constantly at war.

If you have issues such as difficulty losing weight, brain fog, skin issues, hormonal imbalances it is very likely that your gut is in dysbiosis. 

Common food allergens include Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Eggs and Nuts. One can follow an elimination diet to test these and other suspect foods or even do a simple IgG antibody Allergy test to know for sure.

  • Your mindset : Without consciously realizing it, sometimes your biggest roadblock of be you ! You leaf through instagram and see perfect bodies and hear of unbelievable transformation stories, you do the same thing but it doesn’t work for you! You get demotivated and go back to eating chocolate cake with a vengeance. Sounds familiar?

You need to focus on you! Don’t let comparison steal your joy. The only comparison you should be making is with yourself to see how far you have come whether in terms of energy level, making better food choices, exercising 4 times a week instead of 3, finding joy and peace in situations you would not have before.. they all count! It’s these small changes that will add up to give you the biggest change of all – You!

Start paying closer attention and figure out what’s holding you back, it could be so much more than what you think!