If you like eating healthy, have you reflected on why you do so?
There are several different reasons why people decide to follow a healthy diet, especially for weight loss/maintenance reasons and/or for the health benefits, but there are other reasons too for eating healthy. We highlight a few of them in this article.
Eating healthy increases productivity and happiness
Food is fuel to our body and minds, however not every food is processed in the same way by our bodies. Certain foods like pasta, bread, cereal and soda release their glucose quickly giving us a burst of energy followed by a slump. Other foods like high fat meals provide our bodies with more sustained energy, but at the same time require our digestive systems to work harder, reducing oxygen levels in our brains and making us groggy.
Research has showed that eating fruits and vegetables isn’t only beneficial to the body, but also to the mind. It has been shown that eating healthy has a direct effect on happiness, creativity and engagement levels. This might be so because fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients that increase the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to curiosity, motivation and engagement levels. Furthermore, they provide antioxidants that help against bodily inflammation, but also improve one’s memory and mood.
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In addition to all of this, eating healthy can also reduce your stress levels. Certain foods containing vitamin C, omega 3-fatty acids and magnesium help reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. And certain foods such as fast food, butter, sugar, alcohol, soft drinks and coconut oil can aggravate stress so consume them in moderation. Amongst stress reducing foods are fruits and vegetables, fish such as mackerel (which contains fatty acids) or yoghurts. In order to keep stress to a minimum, it is recommended to design a meal plan for the day that includes a big meal in the morning, something relatively light for lunch and another light meal in the evening. For more, click here.
It helps control your weight
Calories matter for weight, and eating healthy makes it easier to control calorie intake. Eating a healthy diet low in saturated fats and a moderate amount of unsaturated fat can help you maintain a stable weight. According to Harvard School of Public Health, “you should choose minimally processed whole foods, such as whole grains (whole wheat, steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa), vegetables, whole fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and other healthful sources of protein (fish and poultry), as well as plant oils (olive and other vegetable oils)”. Furthermore, “you should drink water or other beverages that are naturally calorie-free, and limit foods and drinks such as: sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, refined grains, potatoes, red meat or other highly processed foods, such as fast food”.
It’s good for your health
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood institute, eating food low in saturated and trans fats, high in the types of fat found in fish and olive oil, high in fiber and low in salt and sugar, can lower your risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack. And according to the Harvard School of Public Health, a healthy diet can also lower the risk of diabetes. They recommend healthy fats and proteins, and skipping the red and processed meat, focusing on plant foods (such as vegetables and whole grains), as well as cutting back in refined carbs and sugary drinks. Another benefit of eating healthy is enhanced brain performance. According to Dr. Mercola, certain foods can protect your brain against degeneration, nourish your neurons, and boost the production of neurotransmitters. To see some of the foods that he recommends for brainpower, check this out.
Eating healthy helps you age better
A healthy diet can improve your skin, yes. Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help protect your skin from the cellular damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are caused by sunlight, smoking, pollution and can cause wrinkling and age spots. Eating fruits and vegetables regularly can improve your skin’s health and slow premature aging. Another potent antioxidant is Vitamin C: it’s needed for a radiant skin and helps blemishes heal faster. Some sources of Vitamin C are blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, kiwi fruits, oranges, papaya, strawberries and sweet potatoes. Also, don’t forget to drink up. Dehydration will cause your skin to look dry and tired. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day and try to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. For more, click here.
You’ll have fewer cravings
Cravings are caused by spikes and rapid drops in blood sugar. Eating healthy can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent these rapid changes. Protein-rich foods help you put the brakes on your neuronal reward system, which motivates you to get food even when you’re not hungry. Some protein-rich foods are grass-fed beef, wild fish, free-range organic chicken, barnyard eggs, and non-dairy, non-soy plant or animal protein powders. Eating fiber-rich foods will also help you steady blood-sugar levels and help you avoid cravings. Ideally you should work 50 grams of fiber from high-quality food into your meals. For more tips, check here.