So much of our health and well-being can be traced directly back to the things we eat. Our nutritional choices can make the difference between health and disease, fitness and obesity, and can even make a difference in our moods.
Below are some guidelines on the importance of eating healthy and exercising each day.
The food we eat is what powers our bodies. A healthy diet, one that’s “clean,” can give us stores of good, reliable energy to keep our muscles pliant, our bones strong, and our minds nimble.
Good nutrition can help support body and mind function in ways that keep us healthier, longer, by preventing disease, managing our weight, and ensuring that we have a good quality of life.
Calories are energy. As calories are burned by the body, the energy that’s created fuels the body and helps smooth function of muscles and brains. It can even help encourage quicker healing.
According to Medicine Plus, a balanced diet is one where the calories and nutrients are balanced – the calorie level is offset by the nutritional value of what we eat.
The importance of eating healthily should be made up of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats.
Carbohydrates get turned into glucose. This in turn is either be used immediately by the muscles and brain as ready energy. Alternatively it is stored in the liver and the muscles to be used when it’s needed.
Complex carbohydrates are actually better. That's because it takes more energy to burn them, and because they’re found in foods that have high nutritional value.
It’s important to get carbohydrates from foods with natural sugars and high fiber instead of processed or refined sugars.
These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even better – taste!
If you eat a lot of high saturated fats, trans fats and sugars, you’ll almost certainly gain weight. These are “empty calories”.
You can eat them, but you’ll gain no vitamins, no minerals, no nutrients.
The importance of eating healthily is also knowing what types of food you need to avoid.
These are similar to simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour. While they may taste good, they also have little to no nutrients to balance out their high calories.
If you intake more calories than your body needs, these calories are stored as fat.
Examples of foods with high saturated fats are fatty beef, chicken with the skin and fat left on, butter, cheese, pork, lamb, salami and sausage. Most of these are meats and animal-related foods.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything deep fried, as well as fatty snack foods, biscuits, pastries and pies.
Getting to know the importance of eating healthily will help you prevent having diseases. Poor diet has been shown to have a hand in causing heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Eating a diet rich in trans fats and saturated fats can result in atherosclerosis, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
High-cholesterol foods can raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood, which in turn can also lead to atherosclerosis.
According to the American Cancer Society, processed meats, fried foods and alcohol have all been linked to certain deadly cancers, like colon and liver cancer. Obesity is also a risk factor in many cancers.
Some diseases and conditions that can be caused or aggravated by obesity are high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, gall stones (caused by build up of fats), gout, heart disease, stroke, and even sleep apnea and asthma.
Mood and Healthy Minds
Having a healthy mindset and the importance of eating healthily can help to support better mind function, and better mood.
We’ve all been there – we’re sad, so we grab some chocolate for a quick pick-me-up. It even seems to work, at least while the sugar is still in our blood stream.
But what happens less than half an hour later? Our blood sugar crashes, and with it our mood.
Soda, candy, processed sugar… they can all be more trouble than they’re worth where our moods are concerned.
A healthy diet can also help to combat depression, anxiety, and dysthymia, according to the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Small Hinges Can Swing Big Doors
Adding protein to your diet can increase the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, which can help to elevate a depressed mood. Instead of reaching for chocolate next time, go for some low-fat Greek yogurt.
Low-fat Greek Yogurt has more protein and less sugar than most kinds of yogurt. You could also eat foods with elevated B12 and vitamin D, both of which can help counteract depression and anxiety.
These can be found in diverse sources like leafy greens, oranges, broccoli and salmon.
The USDA has indicated that eating foods with higher levels of antioxidants can promote the growth and regeneration of neurons well into old age.
This means that there will be improved ability to communicate, and better cognition (the ability to think).
There are quite a few foods that are thought to be helpful in keeping your brain active for longer periods.
Some of them are blueberries (high antioxidants!), turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, nuts, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains and olive oil.
More than Diet
The importance of eating healthily is about so much more than fitting into a particular dress size. If you eat healthy, you’ll be healthy.
Even better, you’ll be healthier later into your life. Isn’t that what everybody really wants?