Everywhere you see the headline “Eating Healthy”, it’s usually only related to losing weight. An abundance of articles or slideshows saturate the internet as if healthy eating only has a single benefit. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! Learning these 7 reasons will help you get even more excited for healthy food choices that are not only beneficial, but delicious as well. If there’s a problem you’d like to solve, take a look at food first because “you really are what you eat”, and food choices can really help you out.
Want to sleep better?
Today’s modern lifestyle with artificial lighting, screens in every room, and erratic sleep patterns can make you feel like a good nights’ rest is sometimes out of reach. However, by regulating when you eat certain things & selecting ‘bed time foods’, most people can gain more control over their sleep. Avoiding tea, coffee, artificial sweeteners & sugar several hours before bedtime will help.
Adding tart cherry juice & kiwi fruits before bed both promote better sleep according to studies by American & Taiwanese colleges. (Tart cherry juice should be tart. By nature it doesn’t taste good, don’t be tempted to add sugar, or you’ll sabotage its effect. You only need an ounce or two to get the effect.)
Want to feel more energetic all day long?
Your energy level throughout the day can feel like it goes up & down. This is usually caused by changes in blood sugar. By keeping your blood sugar steady (ex. Avoiding sugar highs) you can avoid annoying afternoon slumps. Start the day with a healthy breakfast that includes protein. Carbohydrates, especially those without fiber (ex. A white bread bagel) are turned quickly into sugars by the body, and they have about the same effect as regular sugar.
You can help even out sugar levels by adding fiber to every meal. Fiber slows down the body’s conversion of carbohydrates into sugars, which results in steadier energy. When you need something that can add fiber to almost any food you already like to eat, reach for chia seeds. They don’t alter the flavor of the food, they’re tiny so you can just sprinkle them on food or mix them into drinks & the high level of soluble fiber on the exterior of the seed slows down the conversion of carbs into sugars.
Protein is also good for energy. Since the body doesn’t store protein, it can only be used for energy. A protein rich breakfast (instead of the common carb & sugar heavy breakfast) like eggs, nuts, seeds, or a little lean meat can power you up for the day.
Dealing with moodiness?
Going through a range of emotions throughout the day is normal, but if you feel down, irritable, blue, nervous or negative without any clear cause, you can sometimes combat feelings with healthy food. The brain runs on chemical signals, so why not give it what it needs to promote positivity?
Omega 3, vitamin D, the range of B vitamins & trace minerals like zinc, selenium & iodine all of these either protect parts of the brain (B12 shields mylien the coating on nerves & brain cells), help the thyroid (a gland that can influence moods if it’s out of line) or provides the building blocks for a healthy brain (as the brain is composed of special fats) The star of the show for brain health is the pumpkin seed. It has Glutamate for anti-stress, tryptophan for anti-depression, zinc for positive immune system support & phytosterols to fight cholesterol deposits.
Protect your brain & its supportive systems with colorful fruits and vegetables. The general rule of maximizing healthy compounds like plant sterols, anti-oxidants & phyto-nutrients is “The brighter & more plentiful the colors – the better it will be”. Choosing richly colored foods like dark plums (or berries), dark leafy greens, and bright fruits every day will help ensure you’re getting powerful plant nutrients not only for better mood & brain health, but full-body care as well. Remember: supplementing can be a part of healthy eating too. Since not many foods have vitamin-d in them, and this vitamin is important to mental health, you may want to supplement if you suspect you’re not getting enough.
Desire younger looking skin?
There are plenty of creams & ointments on shelves to promote skin health, but did you know you can promote healthy skin from within? By consuming the components that go into younger, healthier looking skin, you provide your body with the building blocks it needs to keep your skin in better shape. Oxidative damage from sources you can’t control, like pollution in the air or radiation from the sun throughout the day can’t always be avoided, but you can activate your repair mechanisms by eating right for healthy skin.
Staying hydrated is priority number one. Healthy skin needs enough water to maintain its look. Caffeinated & super-sweet beverages don’t do as good a job keeping you hydrated as water, so keep an eye on your healthy liquid intake for the day.
Next, healthy bacteria in the digestive system can contribute to better skin. For example, the Journal “Allergy” reports 50% less under-eye puffiness for people who use yogurt, fermented foods (ex. Sauerkraut), and kefir in their diet or, who supplement with probiotics in pills or drinks.
Monounsaturated fats, like those in olive oil usually come along with elastin protecting anti-oxidants, which help skin keep its “stretchy but snap-back” quality. Soluble fiber, that you can’t digest, feeds the probiotic bacteria in yogurt. Giving the ‘good guys’ something to eat helps them help you. You can try chia seeds for a combination of both soluble fiber & healthy fats. The soluble fiber is on the outside, while the healthy oil is within the seed.
Want to avoid cholesterol problems?
High blood pressure & cholesterol issues can run in the family. If you know ahead of time, you can take dietary steps to avoid or control the issue before it becomes a big deal. Cholesterol on artery walls is sometimes a response to fight inflammation. Inflammatory particles hit the walls of the artery, damaging them. Cholesterol is applied to protect the artery, but this defensive mechanism can get out of control. You can fight it in several ways. First, stop or cut down the source of inflammation, which means avoiding refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup whenever possible. Trans fats & alcohol are also inflammation culprits.
Next, use food to control cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats like in olive oil can help lower bad cholesterol. Omega 3 fatty acids help as well, and they’re generally well known in cold water fish. Don’t like fishy flavor, or don’t want to eat fish every day? Consider a supplement, or the chia seed which has plant based omega 3, and no fishy taste at all. The Mayo Clinic states that fiber can block cholesterol absorption, so the more fiber you get, the better off you’ll be. Chia is one of the most high-fiber seeds you can get.
Looking for a better workout?
Playing a physically demanding sport, keeping your bones strong, or just going for better physical fitness requires nutrition. For example, the compound that makes salmon pink, astaxanthin, can accelerate fat burning & increase endurance according to Journal Biochemical & Biophysical Research Communications. Raw beet juice may not taste great, but it’s well known for promoting endurance and lowering blood pressure. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also reports that omega 3s can stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults, so be sure to include a little of this healthy oil to make more of your workouts. Protein is the building block of healthy muscle tissue, and you can find easily digestible protein all around you in asparagus, almonds, complete protein in chia, bean sprouts & quinoa. When meat isn’t your only choice for protein, you can plan more of it into your meals.
Need to improve digestive health?
Digestive health includes dealing with diverticulosis, diverticulitis, acid indigestion, trouble going to the bathroom, and nutrient absorption. Acid-blocking medications, for instance, can reduce your ability to absorb certain nutrients from foods, which can lead to other problems. Proper hydration & fiber intake are big keys to better digestive health.
Soluble fiber feeds beneficial bacteria that break down food into easily digestible components. Feed the good guys with soluble fiber in fruit peels, chia seeds, gluten-free whole grains & they’ll work for you! Calm acid indigestion naturally & safely with alkaline foods like leafy greens, high calcium plants, beans, chia seeds, & herbs. Keep your digestive system hydrated with both soluble & insoluble fiber. A well hydrated system is like a well oiled machine, it works smoothly & reliably, averting trouble going to the bathroom & diverticulitis-a symptom of food being too difficult to move through the intestines.
These ‘side-benefits’ of healthy eating are just a scratch at the surface of the world of health you can unlock with micronutrients in healthy plant foods. Did you notice some of the topics covered different benefits, but featured the same item? (for example, fiber) That’s because healthy eating creates a kind of synergy with the related systems of your body. Hydration is great for digestion AND skin health, while good digestion supports a healthy brain and then better energy levels influence your exercise pattern while workouts can promote better sleep. Improve one link in your “chain of good health” with food choices, and you may just see it connecting to your over-all health.