It’s no secret that a healthy diet made up of nutritious whole foods can improve your health. But because what you eat affects nearly every cell in your body, eating well goes way beyond the more commonly touted benefits, like preventing weight gain and disease.
For example, as Susan Bowerman, a registered dietician, board-certified specialist in sports dietetics and director of nutrition training at Herbalife, points out, when you make a choice to eat foods that don’t offer much nutritional value or eat out of stress, it can make you feel out of control.
“When you make the right food choices, you don’t let food control you, and that can reduce your stress,” she said.
Additionally, when we eat well, we set a good example, not only for ourselves, but for those around us. Bowerman said this is just one of the ways that eating healthy makes you feel good, which creates a cycle of positive reinforcement.
Of course, these are only two examples of the many ways that healthy eating can promote success and happiness in nearly everything you do.
We asked nutrition experts to explain how eating well can have a positive impact in other asepcts of life. Here’s what they had to say.
It can improve you mental and emotional health.
“Our digestive system, in particular, is equipped with an intricate system of nerves called the vagus nerve that directly connects it to the brain,” explained Bella Dalili, a nutritionist and health blogger with a master's degree in nutrition, dietetics and food science. “Thus, the state of your gut affects the state of your mind. Through these signals from the gut to the brain, healthy eating habits can promote better mood and general feelings of happiness." Adversely, a poor diet can negatively affect your body's pH balance, gut microbial balance and cause digestive stress, which Dalili said sends signals to the brain that can lead to feelings of anxiety and negative thoughts. "When you eat healthy, on the other hand, your body's signals to the brain provide a calmer mood and more positive thinking, which actually improves your outlook on life."
It can increase your productivity.
Dalili said that eating well also helps the body to maintain stable blood sugar levels, which helps us feel energized and focused. She added that low blood sugar can even cause a drop in your IQ. “The digestive system plays a key role in productivity as well,” Dalili explained. “The term ‘food coma’ applies here. When you eat poorly, it causes digestive distress. Much of the body's energy must then be used to digest the food you are eating, leaving you chronically tired.” Less nutritious foods can cause your energy levels to plunge, thus leaving you to feel less motivated and productive. “Healthy eating equals better digestion and blood sugar balance, which equals energy, motivation and productivity,” Dalili said.
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