Studies have shown that you are what you eat. If your goal is to improve the quality of your life and your health, you might as well start with the food that is on your plate. Eating healthy can improve all facets of your life — from productivity to stress management — we can’t emphasize enough the benefits associated with eating healthy.
Eating healthy does not only apply to regular meals. It applies to everything that you put in your body. From drinks to snacks, everything eventually affects your total wellness. It’s all connected.
Sure, you might not be able to eat healthy 100% of the time. It’s okay to stray once in a while. As long as you eat healthy most of the time, then you should be fine.
With life getting more hectic and busier as we assume more responsibilities family-wise and career-wise, we have a tendency to forget the very fundamental function of nutrition. According to the American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA):
A healthy, well-balanced diet nourishes the body with the nutrients it needs in order to function normally, and without it, your physical health declines. Furthermore, without a healthy diet your body lacks the vitamins and minerals your brain needs to stay alert, focused and productive. As a result, the body’s mental and physical performance suffers, which ultimately means the quality of your work declines.
According to the AFPA:
While working hard for something gives your life meaning and contributes to your mental well-being, the bottom-line is you can’t let the quality of your lifestyle choices decline if you want your performance to stay afloat. Perhaps more importantly, eating a proper, nutritious diet will help you live a longer, more fulfilling life by preventing numerous chronic illnesses and diseases.
Regardless of your age, it’s never too late to start eating healthy.
Below are the 10 awesome benefits of eating healthy that we tend to take for granted:
10. Increase Productivity
Like a car, your brain needs quality fuel to run efficiently. When it comes to your job, working more efficiently can help you earn more, since high achievers are usually first in line for promotions and raises. Debra Nessel, a registered dietitian with Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California says her clients frequently experience increased focus shortly after improving their diets. How much can eating healthy help? A 2012 study published by Population Health Management found that eating an unhealthy diet puts you at a 66% increased risk of productivity loss. (Source: Nerdwallet.com)
9. Improved Brain Function
With good nutrition and healthy eating habits, you can be on your way to improving your day-to-day mental health and well-being. Foods rich in B vitamins, particularly vitamins B-6 and B-12 and folic acid, can help reduce your homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine have been tied to increased risk of dementia, according to the Harvard Medical School. Good food sources of B vitamins include leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals and grains. Omega-3 fatty acids help improve memory and learning and battle mood disorders, schizophrenia, dementia and depression, says Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a professor of physiological science at the University of California, Los Angeles. (Source: Livestrong.com)
8. Enhances Mood
When you choose to see life in a glass-half-full kind of way, that improved mood leads to more creativity, increased productivity, and high energy. “Iron, folic acid, and thiamine are important nutrients that have strong links to mood,” wrote health writer Jill Lee. “Iron helps stabilize mood and energy levels, and deficiencies can lead to fatigue and a depressed mood. Incorporating iron-rich foods, such as meat, broccoli, seafood, egg yolks and iron-fortified grains, can help keep you feeling upbeat.” To maintain a positive mood, Lee recommends limiting foods such as sugar, white grains, caffeine, and alcohol. (Source: ThriveGlobal.com)
7. Less Stress
Healthy eating fosters a healthy mind and body, and when both the mind and body work properly, there is a very little room for stress. Even if there is stress, Omega-3 fatty acids can come to the rescue. These acids protect the body against the fluctuation in stress hormones, such as cortisol. Black tea has been shown to reduce cortisol after stressful events, making it easier for us to recover. Vitamin C and magnesium, found in nuts and spinach also reduce these hormones, while protecting the immune system, keeping stress at manageable levels. (Source: StyleCraze.com)
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6. Builds Self-Esteem
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.” (Source: ThriveGlobal.com)
5. Delays Aging
Foods which have high water content, such as fruits and vegetables, keep the skin moisturized, supple, and hydrated. They also contain antioxidants to protect against cell damage and keep the skin looking younger. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nourish the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. (Source: StyleCraze.com)
4. Diabetes Prevention
By making healthy food choices, you can protect yourself from diabetes. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, eating a diet rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help decrease your risk of developing diabetes. Olive oil, canola oil, avocados, seeds and nuts are the go-to choices. Whole-grain foods also offer protection against diabetes, says the Harvard School of Public Health. The bran and fiber in whole grains prevent digestive enzymes from converting starch into glucose, leading to gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin, and a lower glycemic index. As a consequence, they put less stress on your body’s insulin-making machinery and thus may help prevent type-2 diabetes. (Source: Livestrong.com)
3. Better Heart Health
Consuming a balanced diet with lots of high-fiber foods, such as nuts, legumes, whole grains and fruits and vegetables, will help ensure that your heart works at optimal efficiency, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Choose deeply colored fruits and vegetables as they have the highest micronutrient content. Good choices include peaches, spinach, berries and carrots. To reduce your risk of death from heart disease, eat oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon and trout, twice a week. Oily fish contain substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for your heart. (Source: Livestrong.com)
2. Regulate Weight
Most people know this one, but it still deserves a place on this list since more than half of Americans are overweight or obese, and obesity contributes to nearly 1 in 5 American deaths. Even if it’s only by 5-10%, reducing your body weight can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to the Obesity Action Coalition. Simple healthy choices not only will help you lose weight, it also can help you save money. The average obese person spends $2,741 more on health care per year than a normal-weight counterpart, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Health Economics that looked at data from 2000-2005. (Source: Nerdwallet.com)
1. Live Longer
The same diseases that make you feel bad and cost a lot of money may also lower your life expectancy. A diet of fruit and vegetables, in combination with exercise, was associated with extended life expectancy for women in their 70s, according to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Other studies have shown similar associations between a long life and calorie restriction. No matter how you cut it, a healthy diet can play an important role in how long you’ll live. (Source: Nerdwallet.com)
Although eating healthy is not an easy task, the rewards for the extra effort is all worth it. With all the life-long benefits of eating healthy summarized above, it’s a no brainer that you should make it a part of living a healthy lifestyle now and in the years to come. After all, it’s your life that is on the line.