Well-meaning adults and parents alike often quote the common saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but why is it exactly that and why should it even matter? To answer these questions: it’s all about nutrition. Defined by the dictionary as “the process by which a living organism assimilates food and uses it for tissue growth and replacement”, nutrition and what we put into our bodies make up almost all of our well-being. in the grand scheme of life.
However, many people don’t know the right steps to creating a balanced diet or how what you put in your body actually impacts your life. If you belong to this category of people, do not worry, because this article will discuss the disadvantages of a bad diet, the benefits of a proper diet and where to start!
Effects of poor diet
Let’s start with the negative effects of ignoring good nutrition. Keep in mind that all of these repercussions are completely avoidable, however, our short-term craving for unhealthy foods (regardless of how good they taste) is what keeps us hooked on not wanting to improve our nutritional well-being.
Risk of developing chronic diseases
The risk of developing health problems and diseases increases significantly when eating an unhealthy diet from an early age. These diseases include cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and decreased bone strength, as reported by health.gov. In fact, did you know that nearly half of all American adults have at least one preventable chronic disease? Moreover, over the past 25 years, obesity rates in children and adults have steadily increased, indicating the devaluing of healthy eating in everyday life.
Reduced brain function
To really understand why it’s never too early to start worrying about what you put into your body, look no further than the effects of poor nutrition on newborns and pregnant women. As reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, major iron deficiencies in the diets of pregnant women and children two years of age or younger can have negative effects on the child. Behavioral and mental growth can be stunted if nutrients and minerals like iron as well as iodine levels are not as high as they should be. Eating iron-rich foods is common in a nutritionally responsible person’s diet, but not everyone can be considered worthy of the title.
More stress and fatigue
The worst short-term feeling I had was when I was overwhelmed with anxiety and lack of motivation to work. However, I quickly put an end to these feelings by deciding that starting a few days at a time, I would eat all the healthy foods that I liked to eat. To my surprise, this small fix made a huge difference and resulted in more motivation and drive to achieve my goals. I am now continuing these long term healthy eating habits and stress has had no place in my mind for a very long time! Scientifically speaking, increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish), iron (spinach and red meat) and protein (lean meat and nuts) are a few ways the body can overcome fatigue throughout life. throughout the day, as noted in an article by Comfort Keepers.
Benefits of good nutrition
There are a multitude of reasons why good nutrition matters and should matter to you, but the main message is this: nutrition is one of the most important aspects of life for maintaining good health. and good growth. In fact, proper nutrition, consistent physical activity, and getting enough sleep have been noted as the three most crucial healthy habits for maintaining a balanced lifestyle, according to Mountain View Hospital. Along with a reduced risk of disease development, less stress, and improved brain function, as noted above, here are additional benefits of following a healthy diet.
The effects of a healthy diet from an early age
So why is it never too early to worry about nutrition? Well, neurological patterns are locked into children’s brains as they grow. If a healthy diet and a balanced diet are consistent in their daily routine, they will transfer into their adult life. So the neurological pattern of eating nutritious meals will become a staple in a child’s mindset over the years. Additionally, the body experiences the fastest growth during adolescence, so supplying the body with the most beneficial nutrients will have a positive long-term effect.
Better cognitive function
When it comes to the “most important meal of the day” specifically, a healthy breakfast every morning has been shown to improve cognitive function throughout the day. This includes improved memory and self-esteem, according to the CDC. What better way to start your day than with a healthy meal to keep you energized and full of energy?
Greater muscle growth
Anyone who has had a good workout experience in the gym can tell you that working out is only half the equation when it comes to building muscle. The other half is a nutrient-dense diet with a nutritious amount of protein, carbohydrates, and essential fats.
As Verywell Fit states, an adequate daily protein intake provides the body with the right amount of amino acids to build muscle tissue. Plenty of carbohydrates provide the body with the energy it needs to replenish glycogen and are essential for reducing post-workout exhaustion. Finally, healthy fats give the body most of its energy at rest, boost vitamin metabolism and maintain high testosterone levels; thus, all three are essential for muscle growth.
A Living Attitude!
As mentioned earlier, self-esteem can be boosted by eating a nutritious diet, but the mood-related benefits don’t stop there. In fact, Verywell Fit describes a 2016 study that found high glycemic load foods, such as sodas, cakes, and sweets, induced significantly more symptoms of depression and exhaustion than low glycemic load foods. , such as vegetables, whole grains and fruits. . From this study, we can see that an unhealthy diet does have the potential to intensify depressive symptoms. To do your best to counter this, incorporate a balanced diet for a step in the right direction.
How to start
After seeing all the positives and negatives of maintaining a nutritious diet, it’s easy to fret and worry about exactly how much protein you should be eating per day, or exactly how much unhealthy fat you should be eating. to eliminate from your diet. In the beginning, counting macros shouldn’t be the goal. Instead, simply aim to reduce the bad and increase the good. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how to start your nutritional journey:
- When filling your plate, make sure you have an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables, filling about half the plaque.
- Add a serving of lean protein to fill a trimester off your plate, such as lean chicken, pork and beef. If vegetarian, try eggs, tofu, beans and nuts. Quinoa and lentils are also great vegan options.
- The last trimester of the plate must consist of grains. Whole-grain and whole-wheat foods are essential because they have more nutritional benefits, such as extra fiber. These can be whole grain breads, brown rice and whole wheat pasta, for example.
- If you choose to consume dairy products, include a glass of skimmed or low-fat milk with some of your meals to provide your body with quality calcium. Skim and low-fat milk also does not contain as many calories as whole milk. Suitable vegan alternatives include almond milk and soy milk.
- Don’t stick to the same unhealthy fats you would normally add to a meal. Often these fats, including heavy sauces and too much butter, can dramatically increase your calorie intake and, of course, your overall fat intake.
- Eat what you like to eat! Picking up new vegetables that you don’t like will only make the process of building a healthy diet hate you. Instead, explore different healthy meal options that look fun to make, and keep an open mind when taking your nutritious foods. By exploring the healthy options gateways, you’ll naturally find fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins that you’re sure to love.
The final take
Ultimately, a nutritious diet can go a long way towards improving health, well-being and overall enjoyment of life. In the beginning, there is no need to count calories, just add healthier options and cut out junk food from meals; calorie counting can be worked into the equation based on specific goals such as weight loss or weight gain (use this MyPlate calorie calculator for reference).
With a balanced, nutrient-dense diet, it’s safe to say that you’re on the right track to maintaining a healthy livelihood. Pairing this with daily exercise and good sleep will really maximize excellent physical and mental condition!