1. Poor nutrition causes chronic inflammation, which leads to abdominal bloating, arthritic joints, heartburn, and heart disease.

2. Chronic inflammation also appears to cause problems in the cells that line your endothelia (the lining of your blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and other tissues in your body). This leads to stiffening of your blood vessels as well as oxidative stress.

3. Five groups of food that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects are spices, fruits and vegetables, small cold-water fish, probiotic foods, and raw nuts and seeds.

Key #4: Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Here are our answers so far to the big question, “why worry about nutrition?”

1. Because we need focus, energy and resilience to achieve our dreams.

2. Because overweight and obesity lead to increased risks of debilitating disease.

3. Because cancer has been linked to food choices.

Here’s one more for the list:

4. Because poor nutrition causes chronic inflammation.

What is inflammation and why do we care? You’ve actually experienced inflammation when your skin gets hot and red after a cut or infection. That’s a natural and healthy stress response to a temporary condition. Chronic inflammation is something else. It happens invisibly, every day, inside our bodies.

Whether it’s abdominal bloating, arthritic joints, heartburn or heart disease, inflammation causes wear and tear and interferes with you being the best version of yourself. Researchers are now discovering that chronic inflammation is a result of the diet that we eat in the west, along with our inactive lifestyle. It is extremely damaging to our health and our ability to take part in the activities that will lead us to achieving our dreams.

Chronic inflammation also appears to cause problems in the cells that line your endothelia. The endothelium is the lining of your blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and other tissues in your body. These problems result in your blood vessels becoming stiff when they need to remain flexible to function. Problems with endothelial cells also lead to the production of “free radicals” or molecules that circulate around the body and cause damage to other cells. This is called oxidative stress and is like rust building up on metal or an apple turning brown.

The following are five groups of foods that have shown promising anti-inflammatory effects in research settings:

SPICES:  These glorious keepers-of-flavour contain compounds that inhibit inflammatory pathways with each one offering unique health benefits such as improved blood sugar regulation and anti-microbial action.  Top picks include: oregano, clove, ginger, cinnamon, hot chile, and turmeric.

VEGETABLES AND FRUIT:  These foods offer up a rainbow of plant molecules and nutrients (antioxidants) that interrupt tissue damage, combat inflammation and accelerate tissue healing.  These food gems increase health on all levels and combat accelerated ageing (inside and outside the body) caused by untamed inflammation. Top picks include: arugula, seaweed, garlic, fennel, parsley, watercress, pomegranates, apples, and all kinds of berries (don’t forget mulberries, gooseberries, cherries, and Saskatoon berries!)

SMALL COLD-WATER FISH:  High levels of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, found in these little swimmers combat inflammation by altering our cellular communication through gene modification.  Compared to bigger fish, smaller ones are lower in persistent organic pollutants (heavy metals, PCB’s, pesticides) and their consumption is more ecologically friendly.  These omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to healthy aging throughout life, and have important roles in all aspects of health and physiology including fetal development, cardiovascular function, weight management, and cognitive function.  Top picks include:  sardines, herring, rainbow trout, and anchovies

PROBIOTIC FOODS:  Research shows us that consumption of good (“pro”) bacteria (“biotics”) improves our gut bacterial balance which in turn reduces local (intestinal) and systemic (whole-body) inflammation.   Probiotics are recognized for their part in treating and preventing conditions related to inflammation such as allergies, food sensitivities and intolerances, eczema, atopy, intestinal infections, diabetes, nutrient deficiencies, ulcers, and cancer.  Fermented foods are a natural source of these wonder-bugs, and interestingly, most cultures have their own version of these foods.  The key is to look for foods that have actually been naturally fermented (not just rapidly processed to taste like the real thing).  Based on different genetic characteristics and personal health histories, you may respond better to fermented foods related to your ethnic background.  Examples include: plain kefir (Eastern European), miso (Japanese), kim chi (Korean), sauerkraut (German)

RAW NUTS AND SEEDS:  These savoury snacks are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins (especially vitamin E), dietary fiber, and plant proteins.  Frequent nut and seed consumption has been shown to combat inflammation by improving total antioxidant activity, improving insulin sensitivity, and modifying cellular signaling. Their consumption has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.  As a bonus, they are highly satiating which generally means less snacking on sugary, fatty junk foods.  Top picks include: walnuts, chia seeds, hemp hearts, Brazil nuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds.

When you have a diet full of healthy whole foods and lots of vegetables and other anti-inflammatory foods, you will take in a high density of nutrients that could help reduce your inflammation to help you feel more clear headed and your memory sharp.

Today's POWER-UP: Try The Anti-Inflammatory Super Shake:

One banana

2 hand fulls of spinach or kale

1 tablespoon of ground flax seed

½ avocado

1 teaspoon grated ginger

about ½ teaspoon of turmeric root

about ¾ cup of almond milk (a little more or less depending on your preferred thickness)

Add a scoop of your desired protein powder. Living Fuel and Vega make great plant based proteins.

*optional: adding one kiwi or 1/3 cup of raspberries gives a little extra sweetness if desired.