The benefits of healthy eating
I asked myself this question a lot during my dieting days… “Is healthy eating really necessary?” I mean, most people know that they can lose weight just by simply cutting their calories and eating anything they like but like I have said numerous times before, this is not the best way to do it.
Whilst we are on the subject of calories, not all calories are equal. If you ate 300 calories worth of nuts, for example, your body would use these calories in a completely different way to say 300 calories worth of sweets. Although your eating the same amount of calories, studies have been done to show that in this scenario the nut-eating people lost more weight than the sweet eating people even though they were on the same calorie daily allowance.
Another healthy eating myth is that eating fat makes us fat. Fat doesn’t make us fat! Society has taught us to shy away from fats and replace food full of natural fats with low-fat alternatives. The problem with this is it’s the fat in the food that gives the rich taste and when taken away the taste is replaced with sugars, sweeteners and chemicals. A quote from Dr Ludwig:
“Counting calories alone doesn’t work because ultimately it matters where those calories come from; this matters more than the number of calories ingested. “It was this calorie-focus that got us into trouble with the low-fat diet in the first place.”
What fat does for us
The truth is, we “get fat” for any number of reasons, including eating too much of the wrong foods, eating too much in general, not getting enough sleep, and living high-stress lives.
But including proper amounts of healthy fat into our diets is not one of those reasons.
In fact, fat as a nutrient is just as important for our body as protein, complex carbs, and greens. The real story behind the modern epidemic of excess flab on our bodies comes from consuming so many processed and refined foods – they are EVERYWHERE in today’s modern Western diet, and they dull the body’s natural feedback loop that tells us when we’re full.
How Overeating Processed Foods Affects Our Body Fat
It’s not entirely our fault when we can’t stop eating processed foods.
Flavours are carefully engineered to be more appealing, compelling, and even addictive to consumers, but the nutrient density of foods is weakened by processing.
When foods are stripped of their natural fat, it’s almost always replaced with some form of sugar or salt – and it’s that excess sugar that overloads your body, and directly translates to excess body fat.
One of the biggest misunderstandings people have is thinking that eating foods that contain fat naturally (think whole eggs, avocado, quality salmon, nuts, olive oil) will make them, fat, but it actually will not.
Here are the top 5 ways body fat is our friend:
- Fat is literally stored energy.
Although the main source of energy for our bodies is carbohydrates, fat is used as a source of backup energy in cases when carbs are not available.
Fat, therefore, helps you stabilize your energy, providing both immediate bursts when necessary, and slow-release through extended periods of rest
- Your brain uses fat to function.
Structurally, 60% of our brain is composed of fat, which forms the structure of our cell membranes, so a steady, daily stream of fatty acids is required for your brain to properly develop and function.
Additionally, fat creates the structural components for myelin, a fatty insulating sheath that surrounds various nerve fibres, helping them carry messages more quickly. So basically, you’re quicker to respond to life!
- Fat helps us regulate our body temperature.
There is a thin fat layer located right underneath the skin designed to insulate the body, helping us maintain the proper body temperature. In addition to insulating, this layer of fat can also protect the inner core from extreme temperature changes by generating and then releasing heat when our skin temperature significantly drops.
- Fat protects our internal organs.
The body also has a layer of fat surrounding major organs like the brain and heart, as well as nerves, tissues, and bones.
This layer is designed to act as a protective cushion in the event that you suddenly experience impact or even trauma, providing shock absorption around your essential organs, thereby decreasing the chance for significant damage.
- Fat produces and regulates specifically helpful hormones.
Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate processes in our body. In response to signals from other organs, your body fat produces hormones that help with a variety of important functions, from blood clotting to sex hormone metabolism.
Too little (or too much) body fat and our hormones can get all out of whack, creating a whole host of unwanted issues.
What type of fat should I eat?
By mindfully including more Omega-3 foods in our diet, we can trigger the body to lose unnecessary weight and keep it off, while benefiting from all the other nutrients in those foods as well.
Focus on the foods from the lists below and you’ll support all of your body’s natural fat regulation processes!
Good sources of Omega-3:
- flaxseed • cod liver oil • walnuts • soybeans • sardines • oysters • salmon • mackerel
Saturated fat occurs naturally in many foods such as meat, dairy products, palm and coconut oils, and cocoa butter. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature. Despite its reputation, including naturally-occurring saturated fat in moderation into our diet is not bad for us.
Balance is key in fat consumption; eating enough of the good stuff (nuts, avocados, flax, salmon, etc.) promotes weight loss and weight maintenance. Eating too much of the bad stuff (ice cream, cake, pastries, pizza, etc.) promotes weight gain. Focus on emphasizing whole food fat sources.
Nuts and seeds, butter, Greek yoghurt, ghee, eggs, grass-fed meats, organic and farm-raised poultry, liver, avocado, olives, coconut, peanuts, peanut butter, soybeans, fish, Olive oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil are all a brilliant source of healthy fats.
The Bottom Line: Eating Good Fat Keeps You Healthy and Lean
Anyway enough about fat, let me give you 8 reasons why you should consider eating healthily;
- To Lose Weight
Losing weight can help to reduce the risk of chronic conditions. If a person is considered highly overweight or obese, they have a higher risk of developing several conditions, including:
- heart disease
- non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
- poor bone density
- some cancers
Maintaining a healthful diet free from most processed foods can help a person to lose weight without counting calories. Personally, I hate counting calories and encourage my clients not to do it. If we focus on crowding out our ‘junk food’ with whole foods then it’s easy to lose weight.
Fibre can be your bestie when managing weight. Plant-based foods contain plenty of dietary fibre, which helps to regulate hunger by making people feel fuller for longer. So get your plant on!
- Reduced cancer risk
An unhealthful diet can lead to obesity, which may increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables help to protect against cancer.
In a separate study from 2014, researchers found that a diet rich in fruits reduced the risk of cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract. They also found that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fibre lowered the risk of colorectal cancer and that a diet rich in fibre reduced the risk of liver cancer.
Many phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes act as antioxidants, which protect cells from damage that can cause cancer. Some of these antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E.
*Tip you don’t need to sit and force feed yourself bland veggies, use healthy fats and cheese when cooking veggies to encourage you to eat them more.
- Heart health and stroke prevention
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, up to 80 per cent of cases of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as increasing levels of physical activity and eating healthfully.
There is some evidence that vitamin E may prevent blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks. The following foods contain high levels of vitamin E:
- sunflower seeds
- green vegetables
The medical community has long recognized the link between trans fats and heart-related illnesses, such as coronary heart disease.
If you eliminate trans fats (junk food) from your diet as much as possible with a little bit of wriggle room for a social life, this will reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This type of cholesterol causes plaque to collect within the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.(Aint nobody got time for that!)
4.The health of the next generation
Children learn most health-related behaviours from the adults around them, and parents who model healthful eating and exercise habits tend to pass these on.
Eating at home may also help. In 2018, researchers found that children who regularly had meals with their families ate more vegetables and fewer sugary foods than their peers who ate at home less frequently.
In addition, children who participate in gardening and cooking at home may be more likely to make healthful dietary and lifestyle choices. So get your kiddies involved! Make an eat the rainbow chart to stick on your fridge so you can colour in the different colours of veg that you eat each day/week.
- Strong bones and teeth
A diet with adequate calcium and magnesium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Keeping the bones healthy is vital in preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis later in life.
The following foods are rich in calcium:
- dairy products
- canned fish with bones
Also, many plant-based milks are fortified with calcium.
Magnesium although abundant in many foods, (leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains) is researched to be that over 80% of the world’s population is deficient! I recommend taking a quality magnesium supplement or even better getting the daily dose of magnesium and everything else you need in a oner. Click here to do just that.
- Better mood
Emerging evidence shows a close relationship between diet and mood.
In 2016, researchers found that a diet with a high glycemic load may cause increased symptoms of depression and fatigue.
A diet with a high glycemic load includes many refined carbohydrates, such as those found in soft drinks, cakes, white bread, and biscuits. Vegetables, whole fruit, and whole grains have a lower glycemic load.
While a healthful diet may improve overall mood, it is essential for people with depression to seek medical care.
7. Improved memory
A healthful diet may help prevent dementia and cognitive decline.
A study from 2015 identified nutrients and foods that protect against these adverse effects. They found the following to be beneficial:
- vitamin D, C, and E
- omega-3 fatty acids
- flavonoids and polyphenols
Among other diets, the Mediterranean diet incorporates many of these nutrients.
8. Improved gut health
The colon is now seen as the second brain! It is full of naturally occurring bacteria, which play important roles in metabolism, digestion and mood.
Certain strains of bacteria also produce vitamins K and B, which benefit the colon. These strains also help to fight harmful bacteria and viruses.
A diet low in fibre and high in sugar and fat alters the gut microbiome, increasing inflammation in the area.
However, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains provides a combination of prebiotics and probiotics that help good bacteria to thrive in the colon.
Fermented foods, such as yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir, are rich in probiotics. I take a probiotic supplement every morning to support my digestive health.
Fibre is an easily accessible prebiotic, and it is abundant in legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Fibre also promotes regular bowel movements, which can help to prevent bowel cancer and diverticulitis.
PREBIOTICS are a special form of dietary fibre that acts as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut. PROBIOTICS are live bacteria that can be found in yoghurt and other fermented foods. … PROBIOTICS must compete with the over 1000 bacteria species already in the gut.
Quick tips for a healthful diet
Exchanging soft drinks for herbal teas is a positive change in a person’s diet.
There are plenty of small, positive ways to improve the diet, including:
- swapping soft drinks for water and herbal tea
- eating no meat for at least 1 day a week
- ensuring that fresh produce makes up about 50 per cent of each meal
- If you have issues with milk try swapping cow’s milk for plant-based milk
- eating whole fruits instead of drinking juices, which contain less fibre and often include added sugar
- avoiding processed meats, which are high in salt and may increase the risk of colon cancer
- eating more lean protein, which can be found in eggs, tofu, fish, and nuts
Need more help? Click here for a free discovery session with me, let’s do this together, beautiful.