People often think of healthy eating as dieting. This is not true. Eating healthy is not just about losing weight, it’s about feeling better both physically and mentally.
Eating healthy means following a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of nutritious foods and drinks. It also means getting the number of calories that’s right for you (not eating too much or too little).
Keeping active and eating a healthy balanced diet can also help you to maintain a healthy weight.
Eating healthy is about balance and making sure that your body is getting the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly. Healthy eating habits require that people eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fats, proteins, and starches. Keep in mind that healthy eating requires that you’re mindful of what you eat and drink, but also how you prepare it.
Healthy diets can also contribute to an adequate body weight.
Healthy eating is a good opportunity to enrich life by experimenting with different foods from different cultures, origins and with different ways to prepare food.
The benefits of eating a wide variety of foods are also emotional, as variety and colour are important ingredients of a balance diet.
Healthful eating also means replacing foods that contain trans fats, added salt, and sugar with more nutritious options.
Today is National Food Day, and it’s all about helping people “eat real.” It’s a day to take a step back from consuming sugary drinks and packaged foods in favor of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. You know, actual “food.” Not only can eating healthy help you lose weight, it can also help your brain. Eating healthy food has a ton of amazing psychological benefits that might surprise you.
You know, because your brain probably doesn’t know about them, and brains tend to make you feel surprised when it reads something it didn’t previously know. It’s time to eat some carrots, an apple, and a couple slices of whole grain bread and find out what your brain has been missing out on all these years.
There are many benefits of eating healthy, yet so few of us truly consider how to implement good nutritional habits.
If someone asked you, how would you rate your eating habits on a scale from one to ten? (One signifying that your eating habits are poor and you rarely eat healthy foods and ten signifying that you eat a lot of healthy foods and are consistent with your portions.) Sometimes analyzing where we are on this scale can be frustrating, but when push comes to shove, it’s for our own benefit.
“Health is wealth” is what we learned in our school days. But, it seems like most of us have forgotten about our true wealth. With our busy lifestyles, our food habits have deteriorated drastically. We have forgotten what healthy eating is all about!
Following a healthful diet has many health benefits, including building strong bones, protecting the heart, preventing disease, and boosting mood.
Health Benefits of Eating Healthy Foods
Starting to eat healthy foods at times can be daunting. If you are not accustomed to eating fruits and vegetables, there may be some that just don’t taste good to you. Although it may be tempting to want to throw in the towel, adopting these healthy habits are well worth sticking to.
Change is not something that occurs overnight, it is a long and hard process. To help make this process a bit easier, here are a number of healthy eating tips that will help you be successful in the long run.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in the United States.
The American Heart Association (AHA) state that almost half of U.S. adults live with some form of cardiovascular disease.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a growing concern in the U.S. The condition can lead to heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.
Some sources report that it is possible to prevent up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke diagnoses with lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and healthful eating.
The foods people eat can reduce their blood pressure and help keep their heart healthy.
The dietary approaches to stop hypertension diet, known as the DASH dietTrusted Source, includes plenty of healthful foods for the heart. The program recommends the following:
- eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- choosing fat-free or low fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
- limiting saturated and trans fat intake, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy products
- limiting drinks and foods that contain added sugars
- restricting sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day — ideally 1,500 mg daily— and increasing consumption of potassium, magnesium, and calcium
High fiber foods are also crucial for keeping the heart healthy.
The AHA state that dietary fiber helps improve blood cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
The medical community has long recognized the link between trans fats and heart-related illnesses, such as coronary heart disease.
Limiting certain types of fats can also improve heart health. For instance, eliminating trans fats reduces the levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This type of cholesterol causes plaque to collect within the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Reducing blood pressure can also promote heart health. A person can achieve this by limiting their salt intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams per day.
Food manufacturers add salt to many processed and fast foods, and a person who wishes to lower their blood pressure should avoid these products.
Strong Bones and Teeth
A diet rich in calcium keeps your teeth and bones strong and can help to slow bone loss (osteoporosis) associated with getting older.
Calcium is usually associated with dairy products, but you can also get calcium by eating:
- sardines, pilchards or tinned salmon (with bones)
- dark green vegetables – such as kale and broccoli
- calcium-fortified foods – such as soya products, fruit juices and cereals
As vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, make sure you get outside (your body gets vitamin D from the sun) and have plenty of foods containing vitamin D in your diet – such as oily fish and fortified cereals.
Weight Loss or Maintenance
Use fruit, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains to replace high-fat, high-calorie foods. Staying within your required calorie range is vital for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The fiber in whole grains, fruits and vegetables help fill you up faster and keep you full longer than foods that are loaded with sugar. The longer you are satiated, the less likely you are to exceed your ideal calorie range.
Builds Your Self Esteem
Self-esteem usually starts with a positive body image, and eating healthy is obviously one of the key ways to achieving this. A healthy body image begins with healthy eating. “Self-esteem begins with our bodies,” wrote Shirley W. Kaplan, M.A., for the American Nutrition Association. “Since mind and body are one entity, the smooth, interrelated functioning of our body parts and our brain chemistry provide the foundation for an inherent sense of wellness.” If you like what you see in the mirror, your self-esteem will reward you with some serious mojo.
Help your eyes
Eye health may be top of mind if you stare at a computer and phone all day, which can strain your eyes, according to the American Optometric Association. If you want to protect your eyes, eat more vegetables (you’ll also want to take some screen breaks and see your eye doctor). Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). You’ll find them and other eye-protecting carotenoids in basil, corn, red peppers, spinach and broccoli.
Minimize Your Overall Stress Level
Stress can be the end-all to your healthy eating habits. Whether you stop eating altogether or you start binge eating, your stress can have many negative effects on the habits that you have established. As important as your diet is working to reduce your stress levels.
Helps Manage Diabetes
Type-2 diabetes affects millions of people worldwide, irrespective of age. Unhealthy eating habits, obesity, insulin resistance, and genetic factors may lead to diabetes type 2.
Changing your eating habits and lifestyle can certainly help reduce the risk or type-2 diabetes and related complications. Avoid consuming sugary and junk foods. Eat healthy greens, beans, low-glycemic index foods, dark chocolate, and healthy snacks to keep your cravings and hunger pangs at bay.
Sugary foods, such as white bread, fruit juice, soda and ice cream, cause a spike in blood sugar. While your body can handle occasional influxes of glucose, over time this can lead to insulin resistance, which can go on to become type 2 diabetes. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread, oatmeal and brown rice, cause a slow release of sugar into the bloodstream, which helps regulate blood sugar.
Reduced Cancer Risk
Eating foods that contain antioxidants can reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer by protecting cells from damage.
The presence of free radicals in the body increases the risk of cancer, but antioxidants help remove them to lower the likelihood of this disease.
Many phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes act as antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E.
According to the National Cancer Institute, though humans trials are inconclusive, there are laboratory and animal studies that link certain antioxidants to a reduced incidence of free radical damage due to cancer.
Foods high in antioxidants include:
- berries such as blueberries and raspberries
- dark leafy greens
- pumpkin and carrots
- nuts and seeds
Having obesity may increaseTrusted Source a person’s risk of developing cancer and result in poorer outcomes. Maintaining a moderate weight may reduce these risks.
In a 2014 studyTrusted Source, researchers found that a diet rich in fruits reduced the risk of upper gastrointestinal tract cancers.
They also found that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fiber lowered the risk of colorectal cancer, while a diet rich in fiber reduces the risk of liver cancer.
Support for Brain Health
A healthful diet is just as good for your brain as the rest of your body. Unhealthy foods are linked to a range of neurological problems. Certain nutrient deficiencies increasing the risk of depression. Other nutrients, like potassium, actually involved in brain cell function. A varied, healthful diet keeps your brain functioning properly, and it can promote good mental health as well.
Improves Your Overall Energy Level
According to the good folks at the Harvard Medical Center, a healthy diet also keeps your energy level high. If you start eating a more balanced diet that includes unrefined carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, with an emphasis on vegetables, whole grains, and healthy oils, you’ll start to see your energy levels increase. They also recommend eating tiny, frequent meals, eating a smaller lunch and avoiding crash diets.
Improve Your Skin
You can help take care of your skin by staying hydrated and getting quality sleep, but what you eat can help too. Tomatoes deliver lycopene, which can actually help protect your skin from sunburn (sunscreen is important too). Kale and avocados can help keep your skin more elastic. Many vegetables, like cucumbers and celery, also have a high water content to help you meet your hydration goals for glowing skin.
A healthy immune system helps keep infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and the common flu at bay. It aids faster recovery and healing. Consume foods that are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Eating healthy foods like blueberries, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, leafy greens, carrot, tomato, cheese, milk, fatty fish, herbs, and spices help improve your immunity.
Some evidence suggests a close relationship between diet and mood.
In 2016, researchers found that diets with a high glycemic load may trigger increased symptoms of depression and fatigue.
A diet with a high glycemic load includes many refined carbohydrates, such as those found in soft drinks, cakes, white bread, and biscuits. Vegetables, whole fruit, and whole grains have a lower glycemic load.
If a person suspects they have symptoms of depression, talking to a doctor or mental health professional can help.
Might Reduce Depression Symptoms
According to Healthline, the brain responds to what you eat and drink. just like any other organ. The brain needs essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to stay healthy and keep your mind sharp. If you don’t provide your brain of these essential nutrients, it can’t function properly and can raise your risk of mental health problems like depression. They recommend minerals like magnesium, selenium, zinc, amino acids, fatty acids, and a lot of water. It is important to note that a healthy diet isn’t a cure for clinical depression or mood disorders, however.
Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and probiotics are essential for maintaining good gut health and improving digestion. Dietary fiber is found in fruits and vegetables. Dietary fiber cannot be digested by humans, but the good gut bacteria ferment it, which helps them thrive and survive.
Dietary fiber also adds bulk to the stool and improves bowel movement, thereby reducing constipation.
Probiotics like yogurt, buttermilk, kimchi, probiotic drinks, and sauerkraut help add more good gut bacteria, which, in turn, help improve digestion
Improved Gut Health
The colon is full of naturally occurring bacteria, which play important roles in metabolism and digestion.
Certain strains of bacteria also produce vitamins K and B, which benefit the colon. These strains also help fight harmful bacteria and viruses.
A diet low in fiber and high in sugar and fat alters the gut microbiome, increasing inflammation in the area.
However, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains provides a combination of prebiotics and probiotics that help good bacteria thrive in the colon.
These fermented foods are rich in probiotics:
Fiber is an easily accessible prebiotic and is abundant in legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables. It also promotes regular bowel movements, which can help prevent bowel cancer and diverticulitis.