10 Benefits of Eating a Healthy Diet

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From a very young age we are taught to eat well. But in this busy world that we live in it’s easy to forget how eating healthy can benefit us, both emotionally and physically. Here are 10 benefits of eating a healthy and nutritious diet…

1.     A healthy diet will help you concentrate

Yes you heard it, eating a healthy balanced diet does great things for your brain and can ensure concentration levels are high and maintained throughout the day. Processed foods will impair concentration and will cause ups and downs in energy levels.  As adults being able to concentrate and focus during the day is definitely important, but adults have sneaky coping mechanisms they can use to survive, without too many people noticing.  Children on the other hand, who have missed out on breakfast for whatever reason, suffer all sorts of consequences when concentration is poor.   They don’t do as well at school, and sometimes they are given disease labels that could have been prevented by daily good nutrition.  Evidence suggests that breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function related to memory, test grades, and school attendance. (1) We advocate consumption of a healthful breakfast on a daily basis consisting of a variety of foods, especially nutrient-rich whole grains like oats or whole grain breads, fresh fruits (any), and healthy protein products (like egg, yoghurt, nuts or beans).

2.     A healthy diet will prevent you from turning into a grumpy grouch

Nobody likes turning grumpy at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, so prevent this from happening by incorporating more complex carbohydrates (like wholegrains), foods that release a steady stream of glucose into your system, and avoid refined or processed carbs that are likely to rapidly spike your glucose and then send it plummeting.  Wholegrain carbohydrates also boost serotonin (a naturally found mood regulator) in the brain, and also known as a happy hormone.  Too much of this will relax you too much so don’t only have carbs at lunch time, or you might end up with the sleepy 3.30itis.  Also include more omega-3 fatty acids (from salmon, flaxseed or walnuts), and ensuring that you eat breakfast and are exercising regularly.   If the afternoon sleepies do hit, rather than turning to sugar, have a peppermint tea or liquorice tea for a natural “pick me up”.

3.     A healthy diet will reduce inflammation in the body

Incorporating more healthy fats (from extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, tree nuts, and wild fish like tuna, sardines, salmon and mackeral) and certain spices (turmeric, cloves, ginger and rosemary and cinnamon) can help to reduce inflammation in the body (2).  This is beneficial to prevent or help repair swelling of the joints, bloating, aches and pains and other consequences of inflammation.  Some studies have also uncovered the potential anti-inflammatory effect of garlic – either way, garlic is a great natural flavour enhancer to add to your meals (3).

4.     Healthy meals will optimise energy levels

If you really want to make the most of your day and be as productive as you possibly can, eating a diet rich in wholegrains, fruit and vegetables is the way to go. Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugary snacks if you don’t want to crash in the middle of the afternoon.  Try and get an early night if you are consistently having energy slumps during the day or craving carbs in the afternoon or late in the evening.

5.     Healthy meals enhance weight loss

Chances are that you’re not going to have much luck losing weight if you’re not eating a healthy diet and feeding your body the nutrients it needs.  Starving yourself is a dangerous way to lose weight because you lose muscle, slow down your metabolism, deplete yourself of essential nutrients and ultimately activate all sorts of stress and compensatory systems in your body that will make you pile the weight back on… usually as fat. Eating a healthy diet consisting of regular healthy meals is the best most consistent way to lose weight and keep it off.  Plus, when you lose weight you also slowly start to lose all of the dangerous risks that come with being overweight and obese, especially if you lose the weight simply by eating a healthy diet!

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6.     Appearance

A nutritious diet will give you healthy glowing skin, stronger and shinier hair, stronger nails and healthy teeth.  You can literally “eat for beauty”!

7.     Eating a healthy diet results in less cravings

Stress can lead to cravings and when you give in to these cravings, you reinforce them.  Do this often enough and you end up with a learned behaviour (or bad eating habits). We can crave foods when we are missing key nutrients, so if we eat a balanced diet we often find we have fewer cravings.  Sometimes though we can also develop cravings for the foods that we don’t need but that we eat regularly (particularly if there are strong associations to that food or patterns around eating it), for example if we regularly eat a piece of cake or something sweet after dinner then we can be in a pattern to expect or seek out something sweet as soon as we finish dinner.   Fill up on nutrient-rich foods during the day, make healthy conscious choices regularly and be careful of unhelpful habits to avoid these cravings.

8.     Healthy eating will help you to sleep better

Sleeping better will improve your eating habits and improving your eating habits will help you sleep better. This was highlighted in a 2007-8 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), showing that the more sleep people received the better their diet was (4).

9.     You’ll save money

Although some healthy foods may cost a little bit more than their unhealthy counterparts, in the long-run you will have fewer medical bills to pay and your grocery bill may also be less if you’re eating less overall.

10.  You could add years to your life and live longer

Eating a healthy balanced diet will reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and much more.  We also know that in population samples that have a culture of eating well, it is not uncommon to live to over 100 years old.(5)

Want to start eating healthier but don’t know where to start? If you are in Brisbane or the Gold Coast you can now get healthy meals delivered to your home or workplace.  It means less worrying for you and a peace of mind knowing that the food you are eating is going to be doing your body some good.  If you aren’t based locally but would still like some help with how to eat healthily, please contact us and one of our nutrition team can help you to get yourself and your family on track.

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References:

[1] Rampersaud, G., Pereira, M., Girard, B., Adams, J. & Metzl, J. Breakfast Habits, Nutritional Status, Body Weight, and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Volume 105, Issue 5, May 2005, Pages 743–760

[2] Top anti-inflammatory foods, herbs and spices. (www.articles.mercola.com retrieved from web 16th June, 2015)

[3] Ban, J., Oh, J., Tae, K., Dae, K., Heon-Sang, J., Jin, H., & Sang, H. (2009). Anti-inflammatory and arthritic effects of  thiacremonone, a novel sulfurcompound isolated from garlic via inhibition of NF-κB. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 11.

[4] National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). (2008). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes.htm

[5] Buettner, D. (2012). Blue Zones. National Geographic Society.