Along with water, exercise and sunlight, food is the fuel of the body and powers everything from our mental and cognitive processes to our muscle movement and strength. Nutrition is vital for all living organisms to source the energy required for growth, body maintenance and reparation.
A healthy diet is essential for avoiding illness, but it also contributes to many other processes integral to our body’s development. Having a balanced intake of nutrients, calories, vitamins and carbohydrates helps all aspects of human development, including the below.
Weight loss and avoiding chronic diseases
In recent years, there has been an exponential rise in diet-related diseases, particularly in Western countries. Being overweight considerably increases the chances of developing heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and problems caused by lower bone density.
In particular, the rise of diabetes has been blamed on a poor diet, leading governments in many western countries to take drastic action and increase taxes on foods proven to be low in nutrients.
Processed foods are also to blame for low consumption of vitamins and minerals while other calorie-rich foods have been attributed to the rise in obesity.
Experts suggest that a diet rich in fiber and lean proteins can help reduce weight loss and remove the need to count calories. In most cases, the dietary diseases that are becoming so prevalent in the west are entirely avoidable. To achieve the best balance, aim to include vegetables and fruits as a regular part of your diet and avoid processed foods.
The link between obesity and cancers
Research has proven a direct correlation between obesity and the risks of developing cancer. Again, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables vastly decreases the chances of problems occurring, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. Also, vegetables, fruits and fiber each play a significant role in dropping the dangers of rectal and liver cancers. They are also very high in antioxidants that protect from cell mutation and free radicals.
The management of diabetes
For those already suffering from diabetes, a diet low in sugar and salt is essential, as is avoiding highly saturated foods and trans-fats. A healthy diet can help people living with diabetes manage weight, keep blood glucose levels low and maintain blood pressure/cholesterol levels. It can also prevent other complications caused by diabetes, including the loss of sight.
Bone strength and healthy teeth
The primary cause of osteoporosis is a lack of calcium and magnesium, both of which are also essential for healthy teeth and gums.
Calcium deficiency is a common problem but can be easily overcome by eating the right foodstuffs. For example, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, tofu, legumes and dairy products are loaded with calcium and magnesium. Also, cereals contain high levels of calcium, while nuts, seeds, grains and green vegetables are a plentiful source of magnesium.
As ever, the key is to mix your diet as much as possible to contain the greatest variety of nutrients.
Eat better, think better, feel happier
There is growing evidence to suggest that eating better also improves our mood and cognitive skills. A diet rich in carbohydrates can improve your brain processing skills.
It has even been found that foods with a high glycemic content can increase depression and fatigue.
There is a wealth of online resources where you can find information to help you improve your diet and source inspiration for a healthier lifestyle. Sites like Myprotein provide inspiration from famous sportspeople and fitness professionals to help you get started down the road towards better living.
Prevention of strokes and other heart-related problems
Heart disease and other blood-related/cardiovascular issues are amongst the most significant health problems in the western world today. It is estimated that around 80% of premature heart disease or strokes could have been prevented by sensible lifestyle changes.
Increased physical activity and improvements to a diet can massively reduce the risks caused by both. Also, it is believed there is a direct link between ingesting trans-fats and coronary heart disease.
It’s also suggested that eating vitamin E can help reduce the risk of developing blood clots, so eating foods like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts or green vegetables (each of which is full of vitamin E), can reduce the chance of developing clots.
An untreated or undetected blood clot can easily pass further through the system to cause a heart attack; therefore, early identification is essential.
Bringing up your children well and teaching them good habits
Most parents realize the things they do will be directly passed down to their children and become habits in later life. Teaching your kids to eat well from an early age (no matter how hard that can sometimes be) is an ideal practice to adhere to. Start young and arm them with a greater understanding and respect for the importance of diet as they grow up.
Sticking to regular mealtimes at home and encouraging your family to eat together can help you monitor and regulate your children’s intake of the right foodstuffs, leading to a healthier diet.
In fact, recent research found that children who regularly ate with their families also went on to eat less sugary, junk foods in later life and also had a higher intake of vegetables. Starting kids along the pathway to a good diet early is an effective way to promote better health in the future.
Improved cognitive and memory processes
Most people are aware that food improves their physical health; however, there is considerable evidence to suggest it also enhances your cognitive abilities. Vitamins C, D and E have been proven to keep minds healthy and also reduce the risks of dementia and other age-related mental problems. To add the best mind-improving ingredients to your diet, look at eating a typical Mediterranean diet filled with omega-3 acids, polyphenols and flavonoids.
A better, healthier gut and digestive process
Our bodies are filled with bacteria, but nowhere more so than the colon. These bacteria are essential for the metabolism and digestive processes and help fight off other dangerous bacteria and viruses.
Eating a diet filled with prebiotics and probiotics help the good bacteria in our gut and digestive system to thrive, promoting better health and an improved digestive tract.
For prebiotics, add vegetables, fruits and greens to your daily mealtimes. For probiotics, yogurt and sauerkraut are a great choice. Fiber also helps improve bowel movements, which can reduce the risk of cancers.