Why Eating Healthy Matters
There is magic in learning, especially when it is something new.
You discover a new restaurant, a new place, or information that totally transforms the way you think, how you eat, your actions, and changes what you do from that point on.
Learning has this ability because knowledge is powerful and can be life-changing.
Many of us have been told that eating healthy matters but may not have had the experience of learning why. I’ve been fortunate enough to have learned why through my personal health journey.
Through nutrition, I was able to find relief and stop symptoms that hindered my daily life. It was (and still is) life-changing and powerful.
One of my favorite quotes is “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” -Hippocrates.
It’s a bold statement but offers an important answer to why eating healthy matters.
The food we choose to eat plays a role in the outcome of our health. It also plays a role in the treatment/prevention of disease.
Here are five reasons why eating healthy matters...
5 Reasons Why Eating Healthy Matters
• Weight Management
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for our overall health and decreasing the risk of developing serious health conditions. One way weight is assessed is by using the body mass index (BMI) which is a calculation that takes an individual's weight and height into account for body size. A healthy or normal weight for an adult is defined as having a BMI of 18.5-24.9.
Obesity is a current health issue in the United States with a prevalence of 42.4%.¹ Obesity is associated with a higher risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In adults, obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30.0 or more.
It is important to note that BMI isn’t everything and does have limitations. Age, sex, ethnicity and muscle mass can affect BMI and its accuracy. BMI does not differentiate between excess fat, muscle or bone mass. With these limitations, it is still used as a way to measure body size.
Eating healthy can help reduce the risk of obesity and disease. Consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, fish, nuts and seeds), and lean protein (chicken, eggs, turkey, tofu, beans, and lentils) help lower calorie intake, increase satiety and lower BMI.
• Improves Digestion
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and probiotics are an important part of good gut health and improving digestion.
Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.² You might know it best for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. Fiber is the part of plant foods that our bodies cannot digest or absorb and passes intact through our bodies. The benefits of fiber include normal bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and weight management.
Probiotics in foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and probiotic drinks aid in gut health by adding good gut bacteria. This in turn helps with digestion.³
• Increases Immunity
Our immune system is our own personal defense system. The function of it is to prevent or limit infection. It is in our best interest to support our immune systems as best we can.
We can do this by getting the nutrients we need through food, which is the best source. Consuming healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats and lean proteins) helps support our immune system to function at its best.⁴
• Boosts Brain Health
While brain function and mental health might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to eating healthy, it does play an important role in boosting brain health and mood.
Research has shown that green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, berries, tea, coffee and nuts provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that nourish the brain in a positive way.⁵
• Improves Skin Health
Skin is the largest organ in humans. It plays important roles in temperature regulation, controlling water loss, and protecting internal tissues and organs from environmental factors.
Eating healthy has long been associated with s kin health. Antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that come from foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. help protect against free radicals, ultraviolet damage, blemishes and aging. Focusing on a well balanced and hydrating diet will help improve skin function.⁶
1. CDC. Obesity is a Common, Serious, and Costly Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published June 29, 2020. Accessed August 8, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
2. Dreher ML. Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects. Nutrients. 2018;10(12). doi:10.3390/nu10121833
3. Ercolini D, Fogliano V. Food Design To Feed the Human Gut Microbiota. J Agric Food Chem. 2018;66(15):3754-3758. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.8b00456
4. Iddir M, Brito A, Dingeo G, et al. Strengthening the Immune System and Reducing Inflammation and Oxidative Stress through Diet and Nutrition: Considerations during the COVID-19 Crisis. Nutrients. 2020;12(6). doi:10.3390/nu12061562
5. Meeusen R. Exercise, Nutrition and the Brain. Sports Med Auckl Nz. 2014;44(Suppl 1):47-56. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0150-5
6. Pappas A, Liakou A, Zouboulis CC. Nutrition and skin. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2016;17(3):443-448. doi:10.1007/s11154-016-9374-z