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Monday, July 15, 2024

16 reasons to eat healthy today

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By Isatou Nyang,
5th year medical student

UTG Medical Students’ Association

Healthy eating has a lot of benefits that can last throughout a person’s life ranging from  physical to mental wellbeing. Usually, we consider the amount of food consumed and not the quality forgetting that the constituents of food matter a lot in our growth and development. Meal planning is a substantial way in which we can eat healthy as well as reducing the money spent on food. By planning out meals, people experience less inclination to eat unhealthy food that has little or no nutritional value. Following a healthy diet has many benefits, including building strong bones, protecting the heart, preventing disease, and boosting mood.

A healthy diet typically includes nutrient-dense foods from all the major food groups, including lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables of many colors. Healthy eating habits also include replacing foods that contain trans fats, added salt, and sugar with more nutritious options.

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Here are 16 reasons why you should eat healthy:

1. Helps lose weight

Excess body weight and obesity are global burdens especially in places where people consume a lot of junk foods and sweetened beverages. Careful eating might be helpful in reducing this problem.

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Consuming more leafy vegetables, whole fruits, lean proteins (fish, eggs and lentils), healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, fish oil and seeds) and whole food nutrients lower calorie intake, increase satiety (fullness), and lower BMI (Body Mass Index).

2. Improved gut health

The colon is full of naturally occurring bacteria, which play important roles in metabolism and digestion. Certain strains of bacteria also Source vitamins K and B, which benefit the colon. They may also help fight harmful bacteria and viruses. Inflammation in the gut can be reduced by high fiber diet such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains that help good bacteria thrive in the colon.

3. Improves heart health

Heart disease has been a leading cause of death in some parts of the world with a prevalence estimated to be about 20 million in the African region. Hypertension is also a growing concern as it is a condition that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

With lifestyle changes up to 80% of premature heart diseases and stroke may be possibly prevented, such as healthful eating and physical activity. The foods that can reduce blood pressure and keep the heart healthy include fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, beans, nuts and vegetables and by limiting foods that have added sugars and salt. High fiber foods are also beneficial to the heart.

4. Decreases cancer risk

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. An unhealthy lifestyle and genetic factors can cause the cells in your body to divide exponentially, leading to abnormal cell functions. Researchers have found out that consuming organic and unprocessed foods is the best way to keep cancer at length. Certain foods like watermelon, cabbage, garlic, ginger, turmeric, tomato have nutrients that may inhibit cancer progression.

5. Boost immunity

A healthy immune system protects you from infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and the common flu. It aids faster recovery and healing. Consume foods that are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Eating healthy foods like, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, other fruits rich in vitamin C, leafy greens, carrot, tomato, cheese, milk, fatty fish, herbs, and spices help improve your immunity.

6. Improves sleep quality

Healthy eating also helps improve sleep quality. Late-night snacking on junk food or ice cream, having dinner at an odd time, and consuming oily and heavy foods disrupt the normal biological cycle. This increases the chances of obesity and gut disorders such as poor digestion and leaves you feeling uneasy. Eating healthy and at least three hours before you go to bed aids digestion, lowers stress, and helps you get sound sleep.

7. Increases productivity

In order to keep your brain alert and active, light and healthy foods will give you the required energy. This, in turn, helps increase your productivity. Always consume foods that help you lose weight, improve energy level and keep your brain active.

8.  Reduces stress

Vegetables and fruits are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress in the body, thereby reducing inflammation. Unhealthy foods do just the opposite. They have no nutritional value, and high sugar increase inflammation in the body. Avoid eating heavy, unhealthy, fat-loaded foods. In the long run, eating light and healthy foods is the best solution to physical and mental stress.

9. Delays ageing

Eating healthy foods has a direct impact on how fast you age. Fresh greens, fruits, lean protein, fatty fish, whole grains, green tea, herbs, and spices are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, that help flush out the harmful free oxygen radicals from the body. This, in turn, helps maintain the DNA structure and slow down the aging process.

10. Improves skin health

Unhealthy oily junk food leads to breakouts and acne. The key to getting healthy skin is drinking water, green tea, coconut water and eating fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

11. Boosts brain health

Healthy eating boosts brain health and elevates your mood. Foods loaded with omega-3 fatty acids (olive oil, fatty fish, fish oil, nuts, and seeds) help maintain the normal brain function. These foods are used as “diet therapy” for people suffering from attention deficit disorders, depression, and bipolar disorders.

12.  Increases longevity

Eating healthy has a direct correlation with living longer and your quality of life. Healthy foods decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of various diseases.

13.  Good for the environment

The less processed a food is, the less impact it has on the environment and climate. Eating organic, fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant proteins, farm-raised chicken and eggs, and limiting dairy (as much as possible) is a smart way to contribute towards sustainability.

14. Strong bones and teeth

A diet with adequate calcium and magnesium is important for strong bones and teeth. Keeping the bones healthy can minimize the risk of bone issues later in life. The following foods are rich in calcium Source: dairy products, canned fish with bones.

Magnesium is abundant in many foods, and some of the best sources: leafy green vegetables nuts, seeds, whole grains.

15. Getting better sleep

A variety of factors, including sleep apnea, can disrupt sleep patterns. Sleep apnea occurs when a condition repeatedly blocks the airways during sleep. Risk factors include obesity and drinking alcohol. Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake may help a person gain restful sleep, whether they have sleep apnea or not.

16. The health of the next generation

Children learn most health-related behaviors from the adults around them, and parents who model healthy eating and exercise habits tend to pass these on.

Tips on how to improve a person’s diet:

o          Swapping soft drinks for water or herbal tea.

o          Ensuring each meal consists of some fresh produce.

o          Choosing whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates.

o          Consuming whole fruits instead of juices.

o          Limiting red and processed meats, which are high in salt and may increase the risk of colon cancer.

o          Eating more lean protein, which people can find in eggs, fish, and nuts.

o          A person may also benefit from taking a cooking class and learning how to incorporate more vegetables into their meals.

Healthy eating has many benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. A person may also boost their mood and gain more energy by maintaining a balanced diet. A doctor or dietitian can provide further tips for eating a healthier diet.

It’s a no-brainer that there are many benefits of healthy food and a healthy lifestyle. Consuming foods rich in nutrients help your body function smoothly. Being in good health is the real wealth you must invest in. While your life is becoming busier and your food habits are deteriorating, it is never too late to start eating healthy to reverse all the ill effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.

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