Not enough can be said about proper diet. Many illnesses worldwide can be prevented simply by practicing healthy eating. Surprisingly, only a small percentage of people in North America practice a strict balanced diet. Even fewer monitor their natural vitamin intake for optimum health.Eating healthy on a regular basis can very well be the most important health related choice a person makes in their life, and can affect much more than general health. Brain activity, mental health, physical health, disease, skin conditions – all of these things are affected by your diet.
Healthy Diet Facts
It’s not surprising that with today’s fast paced world, paying attention to your diet may not be your first priority, but it should be. What many people don’t realize is how far a healthy diet can take you. Here are just a very examples of how eating healthy can benefit your body and well being.
• Memory and Aging: Some hereditary diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, can be prevented or delayed with proper nutrition. These foods (labelled ‘smart foods’) include a variety of meats, fruits and vegetables. See Food Benefits below.
• Mental Health: For millions of people, depression is very real. Some don’t even know they are depressed. Anti-depressant medications are being prescribed at an alarming rate, but most doctors agree that a complete change in diet can in many cases cure depression altogether. Examples of foods that treat depression are fish oils (omega-3), walnuts, flax seed, salmon or tuna. Omega-3’s and DHA also play a role in preventing/treating schizophrenia, ADHD, OCD, anxiety and a number of other mental health disorders.
• Bones and Joints: Many foods contain fatty acids and essential vitamins that can help keep your bones and joints strong. Regular intake of vitamin C and omega-3’s can help your bones and joints stay strong, and resist certain conditions and diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis.
• Heart: Your heart is the core of your body – so keeping it healthy allows it to pump your blood freely so that your entire body gets oxygen and nutrients. Reducing your intake of cholesterol (LDL), trans and saturated fats, and abundant sugars can help keep your arteries clear, preventing major diseases and conditions such as artherosclerosis, angina and heart disease.
• Exercise: Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can improve circulation, respiratory health, bone and joint health, the health of your heart and can provide many other benefits for your body. Some people who shy away from physical activity don’t realized that their diet may be the biggest de-motivator at all. If you have problems motivating yourself to exercise, simply start by eating a healthy diet with your recommended daily intake of vitamins. After a few weeks, attempt to exercise again. What you’ll find is that your body is much more willing to try; you’ll feel more energetic and more motivated to make regular exercise a reality.
Getting Your Daily Recommended Vitamins and Nutrients
A healthy diet means getting all of your vitamins and nutrients on a regular basis. Daily intake differs depending on a bunch of variables such as age, gender, weight and pre-existing health conditions. To find out the most beneficial food intake for your particular body weight, age and gender, we recommend you use the Pyramid Plan, which allows you to select you weight (and desired weight), age and gender. To learn more about the essential vitamins your body needs, visit our Vitamins sections.
Specific foods provide specific benefits for the body. Outside of general nutrition and getting your daily recommended intake of vitamins, certain foods provide extra benefits to your body. Below is a list of various foods and their benefits.
• Antioxidants: Antioxidants are important to the body for a number of reasons, most importantly the role they play in ridding the body of free radicals. Free radicals in the body can cause a variety of illnesses and conditions from wrinkles and acne, to cancer. Ridding your body of free radicals by ingestion of antioxidants is an excellent way to stay healthy and look great. Foods that contain antioxidants are:
o blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, avocados, red apples, red grapes, cherries, oranges
o kale, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, beets, onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts
• Vitamin B: Deficiencies in this vitamin have been linked to many degenerative conditions in the brain. With regular intake of Vitamin B complex, your brain can stay in optimal health, defending against, deterioration, memory loss and other signs of brain fatigue. Many changes in memory that are chalked off as symptoms of ‘getting older’ can be avoided or reversed by regular intake of vitamin B. (As with all vitamins, overdosing causing damage can occur – taking more than the daily recommended amount is not recommended and can be dangerous).
o nuts and seeds, legumes, eggs, whole grains, spinach, lean meat, poultry, what germ, dairy, broccoli, asparagus
• Omega 3 fatty acids: Scientists and nutritionists are still finding more and more benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Most importantly, these fatty acids (DHA) help in brain cell health, nerve cell growth in the brain and more. Regular intake of omega-3 is essential (the body requires it but cannot produce it) yet many people get very little in their diet. To up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, try the following foods:
o salmon, sardines, bluefish, herring, mackerel, tuna
Getting Used to Your New Diet
Improper diet has been linked to thousands of diseases worldwide. The best time to start on a healthy diet is RIGHT NOW. Many people find it hard (at first) to put down their favourite foods (potato chips, gravy, butter and salt on everything, junk foods) but soon find that their favourite foods change. The two most important things to remember when changing your diet are:
• It’s OK to go slow: When changing your diet, instead of making a drastic flip to healthy foods, why not take it slow and adjust as you go? For example, eat as you normally would, but cut down or cut out table salt. Change your butter to a healthy butter substitute. Eat as you normally would but make sure that you also get your daily recommended vitamins, if not through food then through supplements. Change the bread you buy from white to whole grain. Choose leafy greens when buying your vegetables. Changing your diet slowly can help make the adjustment simple. Before you know it, you’ll be eating healthier than you ever have, and you will have barely noticed it!
• Favorite Foods Change: There’s that one food item that you simply can’t live without. The vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, or perhaps a particular type of chocolate bar. Don’t worry; you won’t crave it for long. As you make the transition to healthier foods, your body reacts accordingly and makes you feel better, gives you energy and keeps you alert. When you go back to your old favourites, you’ll notice how your body reacts – poorly. Eating that favourite food no longer makes you feel good. Your favourites will change – and you will be eating healthy and loving it!
A lifetime of healthy eating awaits.