Earlier this week I had the privilege of spending the day in the labs of the Krembil Discovery Tower at Toronto Western Hospital run by some of our country’s top researchers in the fields of Osteoarthritis and Alzheimers disease.  It was absolutely fascinating to meet with Dr. Kapoor and Dr. Weaver, the scientists in their labs, and to hear about the amazing research that is being carried out by these doctors and their respective teams.

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Fascinated by magnified images of cartilage – both healthy and diseased

As I have reflected back on my day in the labs, what strikes me most is the common thread in both osteoarthritis and Alzheimers disease, and in fact in most disease: inflammation.

I was quite literally shocked when I was shown an image of a knee affected by osteoarthritis.  Not just because of the extent of the deterioration of the cartilage (it’s no wonder people experience so much pain with osteoarthritis), but because of the damage that had also been done to the bone beneath the cartilage; the damage of this disease was not limited to just one joint, but the damage extended throughout the body.

And while these amazing and talented doctors and scientists are working hard to find ways to ease, or reverse the effects of these diseases, the single biggest way to influence the amount of chronic inflammation in our bodies, and therefore our risk of disease, is through what we eat.  Sugar and processed foods, in all their forms, have been directly linked to increased inflammation and in turn disease.  While conversely, whole, organic, “real” foods have been shown to decrease inflammation and ease disease.

I found it highly ironic, that after my day in the labs, the quote below would show up in my Pinterest feed.

“You must live with the full knowledge that your actions will remain.  We are creatures of consequence” – Zadie Smith

Every time we reach for that sugary treat, that soda, or pretty much any processed food, we are choosing inflammation, and ultimately we are choosing disease in some form.

Our daily food choices, for ourselves, our families, our kids, are not without consequences. Our actions will most certainly remain; and will be evidenced in our health and that of our families and our kids.

As we enter the third week of January, when the resolve to follow through on all those New Year’s resolutions to eat better, develop a healthier lifestyle, improve disease starts to wain, please remember that eating good, whole foods isn’t about loosing weight (although that can be a very pleasant side effect), it’s about preserving your health and vitality.  It’s about preventing inflammation and the cascade of effects that it will have on your body that eventually lead to disease.

And when we set a good example with our eating habits for our families and especially for our kids, we will most certainly have a tangible and positive effect on their long-term health prospects too.