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Eat healthily for a better life

Start Eating healthily for a better life

 

In a world where everything is fast, instant and immediate, it is really no wonder that obesity rates and ill health linked to it are on the rise worldwide.

We live in a time where convenience is something we crave.  This even comes down to the food choices we make daily.

Time is of the essence in everything we do in our pressurised lives.  It is often easier for us to buy a burger and scoff it down on the run than to take the time to prepare a healthy, nutritious meal that not only is tasty, but will benefit our bodies and our overall health.

Improved quality of life through proper eating

We often do not realise that just by changing the way we eat will have drastic changes on the quality of many aspects of our lives. Let’s look at a few areas:

  • Weight

By eating a healthy diet, we can help ourselves either lose weight if needed, or maintain weight when we have reached our weight goals.  Although this may seem a massive task, it can be achieved.

Your body needs a certain number of calories per day to function properly.  This is your RDI (recommended daily intake) and if you stay within the limit of your RDI, you will maintain weight.  Often to lose weight, it is advised that you calculate your RDI and subtract 500 calories off it.  This will help you to lose weight.

Working your RDI is a complex process.  Luckily there are calculators on the web to help you such as this one from Healthycalculators.com.

Healthy eating helps you to lose weight and therefore improve your quality of life.

  • Mood

Eating healthily affects a person’s mood and can help to alleviate various mood disorders, even depression.  When we eat refined carbohydrates and processed sugars, our blood glucose levels rise extremely quickly.  However, this rise in our blood glucose levels is not sustained for an extended period of time which results in a crash, leading to mood fluctuations and fatigue. Research has shown a link between sustained sugar consumption and diseases such as depression and schizophrenia.

Eating whole grains and low GI alternatives help to keep blood sugar levels constant and therefore do not result in spikes and crashes which help to reduce mood swings.

  • Mental focus

Eating healthily can help you to maintain and increase your mental focus.  Recent studies have shown that a person’s memory and cognitive abilities can start decreasing as early as the age of 45.  Eating healthy foods can delay this process and can in fact improve your mental focus.

  • Reduction in stress

Stress and diet are undoubtedly linked.  A diet high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates and high in sugar is often associated with higher stress levels.  Often, it is a vicious circle because as we become more stressed, we turn to these comfort foods.

A diet consisting of healthy, nutritious foods which provide the body with important vitamins, minerals and nutrients can help to alleviate stress levels.

  • Fight off illness

By eating foods rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals you empower your body by improving your immune system.  This helps to protect it against various illnesses and chronic diseases.

  • Improved sleep patterns

In some cases, your diet can affect how well you sleep.  In a 2007/2008  National Health and Nutrition Survey conducted in the US, the following was found:

  • People who slept the least consumed the most calories and had very little variety in their diets.
  • People who slept the longest consumed the least calories.
  • People who slept normally (8 hours a day) ate a wide variety of foods and thus had multiple nutrient sources due to the variety of their food intake.

There is currently more ongoing research into these findings.

Foods that improve your quality of life

Now that we have looked at various factors in your life that can be improved by eating healthily, let’s look at a few foods that promote various benefits for your body.

  • Boost your immune system

You can boost your immune system and fight off illness and disease in the following ways:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast to give your body the boost it needs at the start of the day. You can include whole grains, milk and orange juice as an example. This will help to provide a boost of vitamin C, calcium and fibre and help throughout the day with mental focus.
  • Choose whole grains over refined grains as they contain many nutrients which refined grains lose during the refining process.
  • Vegetables are a quick and easy source of nutrients and rich in iron, potassium, various vitamins, calcium, folate and anti-oxidants.

 

  • Boost your metabolism

It is no secret that boosting your metabolism can lead to weight loss.  Eating the following foods can help to speed up your metabolism:

  • Green tea is packed with antioxidants and has thermogenic qualities, meaning that it helps to burn the calories of food while you are consuming it.
  • Apples are an excellent source of fibre and by eating one per day can help prevent metabolic syndrome.
  • Low fat yogurt is an excellent source of live bacteria that helps your stomach to process food efficiently. It is also a great source of calcium and protein while studies have found that yoghurt can help to burn fat.
  • Grapefruit contains antioxidants that help to reduce insulin levels after meals.
  • Broccoli contains calcium and Vitamin C, both which boost your metabolism.
  • Lean fish/meat is an excellent source of protein, known to help boost metabolism. Protein can also curb your hunger. This helps to ensure that when you lose weight, you are losing fat and not muscle. Having more lean muscle leads to an increased metabolism and gives your body the ability to burn more calories.
  • Chilli helps to increase your metabolism by up to 25 percent for a period of three hours after your meal.
  • Avocado is filled with fibre, vitamins, minerals and monounsaturated fats, all of which are extremely good for you. The monounsaturated fat can help to control your metabolic rate.
  • Ginger can help to aid in digestion, decrease appetite and increase your metabolism after eating.

Other foods that help to boost your metabolism include celery, cinnamon, garlic, oats, olive oil, beans, brown rice, almonds, apple cider vinegar and water.

  • Boost your energy

Certain foods can also help to boost your energy levels and give you a renewed focus.  Let’s look at a few in closer detail:

  • Leafy greens including kale, arugula, chard and spinach are filled with vitamins C and A which can boost energy levels.
  • Nuts including almonds, cashews and pecans contain a nutrient called Q10 which helps produce energy in our body’s cells. Nuts are a perfect source of energy.
  • Lean meat cuts can help boost our energy levels as they contain an amino acid, tryrosine, which actually fights fatigue.
  • Coffee and tea contain caffeine which helps to boost your energy, but remember to only drink in moderation.
  • Fruit contain fructose which is perfect for a quick boost of energy. Remember to only eat 2 to 3 fruits a day.
  • Dark chocolate can help to increase cognitive skills. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate helps to increase blood flow to certain areas of the brain which helps to fight off fatigue.

Other foods that help to boost your energy levels include eggs, beans, salmon, whole grains, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, red peppers and hummus.

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