Unhealthy eating habits have not only contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States, but also add to several other health issues Americans face on the daily. If you haven’t been paying attention to your diet, now is the time to start.
Your brain, muscles, digestive system, even your bones are made up of nutrients food provides. Nutrients come in the form of vitamins and minerals, but also carbohydrates, protein, and fat. All these components play a vital role in not only how your body looks and feels, but how it works. For each cell, organ, and system to function as it needs to, you need to feed your body well.
If you’re not providing your body the nutrition it needs for all its systems to function properly, you’re setting yourself up for potential health issues.
Here are the various systems impacted by your nutrition:
Research suggests nutrition plays a vital role in your immunity. The proper number of vitamins and minerals are imperative to resisting infections.
While for most of us, malnourishment isn’t a problem, if you’re not eating enough to meet the recommended daily allowance, one of the first things to be repressed is your immune system.
Although there’s no specific food that can improve your immunity, eating a diet rich in vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E can help boost your immune system’s health. While you’re at it, make sure you’re also getting a lot of vitamin C. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits are great sources of vitamin C, as are strawberries and spinach.
Another thing to keep in mind is the relationship between your immune system and your digestive tract. Every day, your insides are exposed many, many pathogens. Some of them are good, some of them can make you sick. Your immune system works in conjunction with your digestive system to protect you from potential problems.
Take good care of your insides with healthy, non-inflammatory foods!
More than anything, sticking to a healthy nutrition and exercise plan will protect you against any cardiovascular problems. A diet rich in plant foods, which contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber one of the best ways to support the long-term health of your heart.
Some foods can increase the risks of heart attack and stroke. High-salt diets may increase your blood pressure, and diets that contain a lot of saturated and trans may increase cholesterol levels. If you’ve been living of McDonald’s fries, it’s probably time to cut back.
Although your body needs salt and fat to survive, you’ll be better off if you pay attention to how much trans fat, saturated fat, and sodium are in your food. Make the conscious decision to eat more fibrous fruits and veggies instead of fast, or processed food.
Eating more fruits and vegetables can ensure that you’re getting the right amount of minerals in your body as well. Some studies have found that mineral deficiency can contribute to cardiovascular issues.
According to the CDC, more than a 1/3 of Americans are overweight or obese. Extra fat itself doesn’t always equate to health issues, but it can. For example, those who are overweight or obese are more at risk for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and death.
One study found that women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher had a 53 percent higher risk of dying early from cardiovascular disease than those who had BMIs within the normal range. Men with high BMIs also had higher risks.
Fat cells stored around the waist can secrete hormones that increase inflammation. Inflammation, while necessary to our health, can make the body less responsive to insulin and can change the way the body responds to fat and sugar.
The only way to reduce body weight, and therefore the risk of chronic disease, is to eat healthy and exercise.
Yes, you read that right. Your nutrition can absolutely change how your brain works. Everyone knows how good it feels just to eat a healthy meal, but the connection goes deeper than that. Multiple studies have found a link between poor mental health in children and teens with a diet high in saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods.
Evidence also suggests that making poor food choices consistently can contribute to depressed feelings. Almost all the serotonin (a neurotransmitter that helps regulate appetite, moods, and sleep) in your body is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. The neurons that produce serotonin are affected by the good bacteria and toxins that you ingest. Lower levels of serotonin have been linked to aggression and impulsive behaviors, which can lead to suicide.
The brain is also highly affected by sugar. Sugar turns on the reward center of the brain, much like addictive drugs. Some scientists suggest high sugar, as well as salty and fatty foods can be addictive.
Sleep plays a vital role in your overall health. If you go a long time without the proper 6-8 hours of sleep per day, you’re more at risk for chronic disease and mood disorders. One of the ways you can improve the length and the quality of your sleep? Eat better.
For your brain to have the right chemical environment to produce the proper neurotransmitters, it needs the right kinds of food. Remember, vitamins and minerals provide the building blocks necessary to create amino acids involved in sleep.
There’s also evidence that suggests saturated fat can make it more difficult for you to stay asleep. So, if you want to improve your sleep, make some healthier dinner choices and try to stay away from dessert as often as you can.
Eat Well to Be Well
If you aren’t overweight, you may not think the food on your plate is all that important, but it’s clear your nutrition has a much bigger impact on your health than just the number on the scale.
Don’t forget your body is literally made of the food you eat. In order it to function properly, it needs the proper number of vitamins, minerals, carbs, fat, and protein. Put good food into your body, and you’ll soon find everything else starts to feel good too.