You Are What You Eat: The Importance of Nutrition for Wellbeing
Do you want to improve your wellbeing from your physical health to your mental health? Well, start from the inside and provide your body with quality fuel that will turn it into a well-greased machine. “You are what you eat” is not just a saying—if you put good things into your body, good vibes will radiate from you! Nutrition is important for your overall health more than we previously thought. Here’s what a balanced diet can do for you.
How Nutrition Shapes Health
Sure, healthy, clean and moderate eating helps people stay a normal weight. However, this is not the only benefit you can get from a good diet. Nutrition affects more things than just your weight:
It reduces the risk of various diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and even some types of cancer. It can also lower cholesterol and control your blood pressure. Your immune system will also get a boost with a good diet and so will your energy levels.
Can it Affect mental health, too?
The connection between food and mental health isn’t as obvious as with physical health, but it’s definitely there. Good nutrition can affect our mental health and various mental illnesses and conditions. As a matter of fact, the body of evidence that connects diet with mental health is growing every day. We already know that food impacts both short and long-term mental health, but it can also affect the management and prevention of psychological issues like depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
Why do we fail to eat well?
Here’s the truth: most people (you included) know what it means to eat healthy and clean. You probably know that it’s better to drink water than soda, herbal tea than iced coffee and have a smoothie for breakfast instead of a donut. So, why most of us eat things that are bad for us?
The issue isn’t education, but the insane amount of choices we are facing every day. On average, an adult has to make over 200 food-related choices every day! And, because it’s much more convenient and tasty to make bad choices we succumb to temptation. However, if you treat your body with respect and think about the fuel you’re providing it with, you’ll realize that your choice is much easier than you previously thought.
What to eat
The best diet is a balanced diet. This means that every meal you take should be nutritionally balanced and contain a portion of protein, a portion of complex carbs and plenty of veggies.
Protein-rich foods are especially important because protein contains the amino acid tryptophan that is included in the production of serotonin. Your meals should also contain complex carbs which are equally important. These nutrients provide the body with a steady and slow release of energy and serotonin throughout the day leaving us with a long-lasting positive feeling. From vegetables we get vitamins.
Vitamin D is especially important for happiness and wellbeing. This vitamin is not produced by the body unless you spend plenty of time in the sun or eat vitamin D-rich foods. When your vitamin D levels are low, you can feel depressed and unproductive. Other vitamins like B6 and 12 are also important in influencing serotonin and ensuring wellbeing and feelings of strength.
Can superfoods help?
Strictly speaking, there’s no such thing as superfoods. This is just a name for all the foods that have the ability to positively affect health and contain many nutrients. Another thing you should keep in mind is the fact that no matter how ‘super’ one food is, it can’t work on its own to keep you feeling healthy and strong. However, there are foods that should definitely find its place on your plate.
Dark leafy greens like kale, collard greens and spinach should be present on your plate a few times a week. Berries and various nuts and seeds are also super healthy and nutritious. To make things even better, today you can grab practical superfood powders you can add to water, juices or smoothies and consume on the go. You can drink these before your morning workout, on your lunch break and add them to your dinner smoothie. No matter how busy you are, you can always have your superfoods at hand.
What to avoid
If you don’t want to limit your diet too much, try this at least: Limit fatty foods and sugars. There are so many cases where people only gave up fries at lunch and sugary sodas and noticed an amazing boost in productivity, mood and general wellbeing. You can expect to eliminate that sluggish feeling in the afternoon and feel fresh and lively. Scientists from Cambridge University tested this on lab rats and got the same results. Rats on a high-fat diet exhibited treadmill performance that decreased by 50% and failed maze tests. So, make sure to reduce your fat intake, especially saturated-fat from fast food.
As you can see, eating mindfully and cleanly isn’t easy, but it’s also not impossible either. Just think before you eat, study your ingredients and once your new lifestyle becomes a thing of habit, you’ll never want to go back to your old ways!