Our food is one of the most important contributions to our overall well-being, including physical, mental and emotional health. It is also the way in which we fuel our daily activities. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, therefore, has many benefits which can be achieved by everybody; regardless of age, gender or lifestyle.
Constituents of a Healthy Diet
The first step towards reaping the benefits of a healthy diet, is to ensure that all the nutrients the body needs are present in the food being eaten, including:
Proteins – These are used by the body to build and repair its components, including muscle, bone, blood, cartilage and skin.
Carbohydrates – These fuel the body and provide us with sufficient energy.
Good Fats – The most common good fats in our diets are Omega-3 fatty acids and they help the body to store energy and protect our organs.
Vitamins and Minerals – The body needs many essential vitamins and minerals that help it to function efficiently. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables helps to ensure that it receives all those that are necessary to maintaining proper vitality.
Benefits of a Healthy Diet
Once an individual begins to consume the essential nutrients in the correct proportions, they begin to experience positive changes in a short period of time. These include:
1. Weight Loss
One of the most noticeable physical benefits of healthy eating is weight loss. Continuing to eat a balanced diet will ensure that the desired weight is also maintained. Healthy foods consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and good fat. Eating moderately sized meals is also important, as well as sticking to a recommended daily calorie intake.
2. Enhanced Mood
When our bodies receive essential nutrients there is a boost in our serotonin levels, which is the hormone responsible feeling good. It can be gained from complex carbohydrates which already contain high levels, and proteins that are rich in tryptophan such as fish, yoghurt, and turkey which is then converted by the body to serotonin.
3. Higher Energy Levels
The body breaks down complex carbohydrates into energy, and eating the recommended amount results in consistent energy levels throughout the day. A diet that also contains high levels of iron, which can be found in green, leafy, vegetables will help to boost energy levels. Drinking a sufficient amount of water also keeps the body hydrated and functioning optimally.
4. Increased Cognitive Function
In addition to fuelling our bodies, the food that we eat also supplies the fuel for our brains. Our ability to learn, and remember, is boosted by anti-oxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids which protect brain cells from breaking down and possible cognitive decline.
5. Healthy Teeth
Our teeth are the first part of our bodies exposed to the food that we eat. Eating lots of sugar helps to break down enamel, causing tooth decay. Foods rich in calcium, however, strengthen teeth and gums and prevent decay. Other foods, such as fruits and vegetables, boost saliva production in the mouth which causes a reduction in bacteria. This helps to eliminate bad breath, as well as decay.
6. Slows Down Ageing
Eating moisture rich foods, and drinking plenty of water, help slow down the ageing process as they keep skin and body hydrated. Foods rich in anti-oxidants protect against skin damage causing skin to stay younger for longer, while Omega-3 fatty acids help to nourish the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Caffeinated and sugary products, on the other hand, cause dehydration and an increased rate of ageing.
7. Less Food Cravings
Eating foods which have a high amount of sugar in them, causes blood sugar levels to spike and then drop rapidly. This results in the body craving this ‘sugar high.’ Complex carbs and lean proteins help to regulating blood sugar creating constant high levels of energy, and a decrease in cravings.
There are items contained in food, such as sodium and carbonation, which result in bloating and gas. Diets that limit these, can cause the stomach to flatten significantly. Foods with high fibre also help to reduce bloating, as they regulate bowel movements and clean the digestive system.
9. Ability to Appreciate a Wider Variety of Food
As your diet becomes healthier, taste buds open significantly and the exploration of new recipes and foods, continues to add benefits.
10. Clear Skin
Large amount of sugar, and unhealthy fats, have been linked to acne and other skin conditions. Cleaning up the diet also helps to purify the blood and, after a short period of time, this begins to reflect on the skin.