Weight loss, food allergies, getting off medications. There are many reasons to eat healthy. But what does it actually do for you? What benefits can you generally gain from eating better?
When I asked others what benefits come from eating healthy, everyone had a different answer. Which makes sense, since they all have unique experiences and results. But after those discussions, and some research, I uncovered these top six benefits you can get from eating healthy.
Reduced Sick Time
No one likes a common cold. And the same goes for chronic health issues. We know that nutrition has a role in a healthy immune system, but what do the experts say?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO),
To achieve best results in preventing nutrition-related chronic diseases, strategies and policies should fully recognize the essential role of both diet and physical activity in determining good nutrition and optimal health.WHO
This may seem like the obvious recommendation of diet and exercise, but it’s still undervalued by most. Not only does physical activity (which is different than exercise) improve your immune system, but by eating better, you’re less likely to get sick. And the times you do get sick, recovery can be much faster.
Diet and physical activity. You’ve heard it before, you just heard it again, and you’ll likely hear it for the rest of your life.
We’re animals. Food and walking around is part of us just like it is for any other species.
Getting sick less often sounds nice, but there’s something just as good out there. And there is a mountain of evidence supporting it.
Simply put, if you eat better you can sleep better. And on the surface, it is simple. But let’s dig a bit further.
For starters, the American Nutrition Association (ANA), references nutrition and its relationship with the stress hormone, cortisol.
High glycemic index foods, such as sugar and refined starches, cause cortisol levels to rise. For individuals who start the day with a normal cortisol level, starchy or sugary breakfast food choices can cause the cortisol to overshoot the normal range. The cortisol will likely remain elevated all day – and all night.ANA
To understand this better, let’s take a step back.
All of us know sleep is vital to our health. It’s why we spend a third of our lives doing it. But what many might not know is what our brains do while we sleep.
I’m not talking about REM sleep, although that is a factor. I’m talking about how the brain cleans itself during sleep. Yes, the brain can get rid of toxins built up from the day and flush them at night . These flushes include hormones. And you guessed it–cortisol.
The ANA article goes on to mention that cortisol is a large determinant in how restorative our sleep is, making it a notable lesson to how we recharge for the next day.
This is a big reason why it’s truly important to care about what you eat. Eating better can provide a higher quality sleep and less cortisol, which in turn, affects almost all aspects of your life. Eat better, sleep better, and live better.
Have More Energy
During the first couple weeks of making a nutritional change, your body begins to adapt. And most of these adaptations start in your gut. Your healthy gut can then direct higher quality nutrients to your other organs.
This is part of why our gut is called our “second brain”.
But even with our incredible Internet and all the information it has to offer, the digestive system is an often overlooked component of our health.
When you give your body better fuel, or nutrients, it’s common to feel increased physical and mental energy. This makes sense as our bodies are essentially machines–using a fuel source to do a specific job. And just like cars, the better the fuel, the cleaner the burn, and the less maintenance there is.
Increased physical and mental capacity is welcome by everyone. It helps people live their lives, whether it’s running with their kids or running a business. And just about everyone could do with a little more energy.
Other than newfound energy, nutrition has a direct effect on how you feel throughout the day.
A study at Harvard shows that serotonin is a key player when it comes to your mood and nutrition.
If you’re curious, like me, then you might wonder what serotonin has to do with what we eat.
To start, you know that serotonin is a hormone vital to your health, and you also know that it regulates pain, sleep, mood, and your appetite.
But what isn’t commonly known is our gut actually produces most of the serotonin in our body–around 95% . This is partly because our digestive system houses an intricate and extensive network of nerves.
But here’s the most interesting part:
What’s more, the function of these neurons — and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin — is highly influenced by the billions of “good” bacteria that make up your intestinal microbiome.Harvard Health
So, “good” bacteria, the kind that grow from feeding on healthier food, are not only a leading factor to your overall health, but how you feel throughout the day.
Of course, there will always be days that get you down, no matter what your diet consists of. But you know as well as I do–when you’re in a good mood, you feel much better equipped to take on life’s challenges.
Are you beginning to see how eating well has a snowball effect on most aspects of life?
When your gut and body run cleaner, you’ll likely look better too. That’s because in good health, your skin can “glow”. And there’s actually some science behind it.
According to PubMed,
The enhancement of healthy appearance caused by increased skin redness provides additional support for a role for blood coloration in health perception.PubMed
In other words, increased red pigment in the face, resulting from increased health and blood-flow, can lead to increased attractiveness.
Of course, attraction is merely perception. But more studies are uncovering the genetic driver between facial health and attractiveness.
Here’s what this means.
Like all animals, we only want the best for our kids, and that includes giving them only the healthiest genes. To pass along healthy genes means having a healthy mate.
So, how do we, as animals, identify a healthy mate? Well, what is the first thing we see whenever we meet someone?
Over our evolution, it makes sense that we’ve been programmed to look at faces for an instant gauge of one’s health. This instinctual driver and snap judgement has led to better genetics and survivability for our offspring.
To sum it up, eating better can not only lead to having more energy and vitality, but also increase attractiveness via complexion. Which does a whole lot for confidence, especially in today’s age. And who couldn’t use more confidence?
I could tell you about how a healthy lifestyle can lead to increased happiness and life satisfaction. I could also show you many studies such as active students are happier than their inactive counterparts . But you and I already looked at the top five other ways eating better can benefit you. And odds are these five benefits can be just what you need to take your health (and your happiness) to the next level.
Want more? Here are 15 ways to start eating better NOW.
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