How Does Eating Healthy Affect Your Life?
You already know healthy eating can have a positive impact on your life, but just how far do these benefits extend? Evidence suggests regularly eating healthy, well-balanced meals contributes to sustained weight maintenance, a better mood, increased energy levels, positive inspiration to others and the potential for a heightened quality of life.
Following a healthy eating plan -- one which emphasizes many fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins, as well as low levels of saturated and trans fats and low cholesterol, sodium and sugar -- contributes to weight maintenance. Staying within your recommended daily calorie intake and eating moderately sized meals also helps you maintain a healthy weight throughout your life. A healthy weight is linked to a reduced risk of many debilitating, chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as improved self-esteem and mental state. Maintaining a healthy weight is also linked to a lower incidence of depression, meaning healthy eating can help significantly improve the quality of your life.
Healthy eating can have a positive impact on your life by leading to a more sustained elevated mood. According to Susan Biali, M.D., in "Psychology Today," a healthy lifestyle -- including a regular, healthy breakfast, balancing your lean protein consumption with whole-grain carbohydrates, getting enough folate and omega-3 fatty acids and cutting back on alcohol and simple sugars -- has been linked to an improved mood and may even help alleviate depression. Carbohydrates allow the amino acid tryptophan to enter the brain where it produces serotonin -- the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter, but whole-grain carbohydrates produce a more lasting effect on mood, while carbohydrates made with refined grains, like white bread, cause a quick crash.
Eating the right nutritive foods can also boost your energy levels, making you prepared to face each day. Sports nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield noted in "Washington Running Report" in 2009 that adequate levels of the mineral iron, which carries oxygen throughout the body, contribute to sufficient energy levels. Healthy, leafy greens, like spinach, are rich sources of iron. "Arthritis Today" recommends steering clear of fattening, fried foods -- which give you a quick burst of energy but leave you feeling depleted soon thereafter -- and stocking up on healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, yogurt and low-fat cheese for an energy boost. Drinking enough water and only consuming moderate amounts of caffeine and sugar also help regulate your energy levels.
Eating healthy doesn't just directly impact your own life, it can help inspire those around you as well. Healthy eating, and even weight loss, is contagious, according to the "International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity," and you can help the people you care about take care of themselves and achieve greater longevity. While eating better and maintaining your own weight, you can feel confident you have not only worked to improve your life, but also improved the lives of your loved ones. When the people around you -- be they friends or family -- are happy and positive, this contributes to a better quality of life for all.
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