Quick question, how often do you service your car and what type of fuel do you use? Is this something that is important to you? If so, is it just as important to ensure that your body is getting the best type of fuel?
It should be as unlike a car this is the only body we get, and we need to treat it with the respect that it deserves, right? Think about it, if we continually put rubbish processed food into our body then how will our body continue to work through the difficult functions that we continue to put it through day after day after day. As research continues to unfold, we are just starting to scratch the surface of how it is that food impacts your moods, your microbiota, your energy, your sleep and your overall health and wellbeing.
Benefits of healthy eating
I am sure that you already know the positive benefits of eating healthy, and that along with physical activity and stress management is the foundation of good health but just how far do these benefits extend?
In consuming healthy, nutritious foods we can support our bodies to cope with the pressures of day to day living and protect our cells from environmental damage. Good quality proteins rebuild and repair injured tissue while vitamins and minerals may act as antioxidants to protect your cells against free radicals and damage from toxin build up. Lacking good nutrition alternately works against us in a variety of ways affecting energy, sleep, and ultimately our health.
There have been many studies relating to diets such as the Mediterranean diet which focuses on eating healthy amounts of foods like fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains, fish, seafood, and healthy fats and is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Spain, Greece and Italy. Research on these countries has shown that inhabitants have lower levels of chronic disease and less incidence of cardiovascular disease and premature death. Some studies have shown that the Japanese and Mediterranean diet may also reduce the risk of depression by 25-35% compared to those who eat a traditional diet. Unfortunately, just like an expensive car, your brain can be affected if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. Alternatively, if you are only eating fuel (from sources such as processed or refined foods & sugars) it becomes difficult to get rid of them. These foods in addition to worsening your body’s regulation of insulin, also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function, or sometimes referred to as type 3 diabetes. If your brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition, or if free radicals or damaging inflammatory cells are left circulating within the brain’s enclosed space, this further contributes to tissue injury.
The importance of healthy food in our life has further influence as the neurotransmitter Serotonin, which is produced in your gut, this important neurotransmitter helps regulate moods, sleep, and appetite. The inner lining of your gastrointestinal tract is lined with millions of nerve cells that help with the digestive process and is largely influenced by the bacteria that resides in your gut. We have often spoken about the microbiome and how the good and bad bacteria in the gut influence how well your digestive system functions in absorbing nutrients from food and activates neural pathways between the gut and the brain. You can imagine the impact that a typical “western’ diet that is heavily ladened with refined sugars and processed foods has on the bacteria in your gut, your intestinal lining and overall bodily inflammation.
The effects of a healthy lifestyle are far reaching – NIH funded scientists found that risk of death from cardiovascular disease was higher in those who consumed too much sodium, processed meat, soft drinks or sweetened drinks and unprocessed red meat. Similarly, if you are not maintaining a healthy diet this could increase your risk for various cancers. According to a study published in 2018 by the BMJ, a study was performed on the amount of processing and the amount of change that ingredients go through to help improve flavour, colouring, and shelf life in reference to refined or processed foods. It was found that for every 10% increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of certain cancers.
Dietary improvements lead to a stronger relationship to reductions in cardiovascular risk factors like type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. By following a healthy eating plan, you also increase your chances of maintaining a healthy weight. Try looking at food to fuel your body to help fight disease, consume healthy fats such as olive oil, omega 3’s, unprocessed foods and fruits and vegetables as these can help improve your health and heart function by helping lower your cholesterol and prevent plaque from forming in the arteries improving blood flow, your heart will be able to pump blood more freely causing less strain and stress on heart.
Importance of Healthy food in our life
Poor nutrition is caused by putting the wrong types of food in your body that do not have the nutrients that we need most. These foods include ones that are low in fibre and vitamins or are high in the wrong types of fat, sugar, and salt. While many of the packaged foods we purchase at the grocery store meet our taste and craving requirements, the way these are packaged and stored often strip the food of essential nutrients our body requires for proper functioning.
How your lifestyle effects your health
As discussed, poor nutrition can affect your health in many of the ways already outlined above, including cardiovascular disease, mental health, energy levels, skin health, and your overall well being. In the short term, poor nutrition may also contribute to stress, tiredness and:
- being overweight or obese
- tooth decay
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- type-2 diabetes
The importance of healthy food in your life
We’ve all been told that healthy eating can transform your life and help you live a longer and more active one. But how do you start putting this into practice?
Making lifelong transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not as easy as just taking a pill, you don’t just wake up on Sunday morning and break all your bad habits and stop cravings. It’s a gradual process and can be as simple as choosing to drink more water and increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
Here are some helpful tips and ideas that will soon have you well on the way to bursting with health and vitality:
- Integrate more fruits and veggies in your day. Aim for two servings of fruit and five servings of veggies each day.
- Eat less saturated and trans fats. Read the labels for the products you are purchasing.
- Eat less refined sugars. Try substitutes like honey or maple syrup as natural options.
- Drink more water, opting for water over sugary drinks can not only help you lose weight, but it will also help clear out toxins.
- Check your portions. Fill half of your dinner plate with a variety of vegetables or salad, add lean protein foods such as meat, fish, chicken, seafood.
- Plan. One of the main reasons people end up eating the wrong types of food is because they are in a rush. Plan out your meals on the weekends, including your snacks, and purchase only what you need and prep your food
If you are considering making nutritional changes and improving your lifestyle the hCG 23-day starter program may be a good place to begin. The program strips food down to basics by eliminating harmful processed foods and refined sugars and enables your body to release unwanted fat stores. The program then gives you the perfect guide to reintroducing the right kind of healthy foods that not only provide a unique opportunity to identify inflammatory foods that may have been wreaking havoc on your body for years but also gives you the foundation for healthy living for life.
Adv Dip Health Science Naturopathy, Nutrition