The benefits of healthy eating are many. Following are some of the facts about healthy eating:
At the turn of the 20th century the primary cooking fats were lard, beef tallow and butter, which contain mostly saturated fats. They were replaced in the 1920s by the introduction of hydrogenated vegetable oils that contain trans fats. These hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils have been used extensively in processed foods.
Interestingly, it was in the 1920s that the rates of coronary heart disease began to rise significantly, despite the virtual elimination of saturated fats from our diet. Coronary heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the U.S. today, according to the American Heart Association.
The number of people with diabetes has ballooned, along with our consumption of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the incidence of Type 2 diabetes has risen by 33% in the past decade. Complications related to diabetes are the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. At the same time, our consumption of high fructose corn syrup has risen 250% over the past 15 years.
Arthritis is another disease affecting many on a western diet, leading to a life of constant pain and reduced mobility. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet quickly eases the symptoms.
Rates of overweight and obesity have reached epic proportions worldwide, with the World Health Organization estimating that more than 1 billion adults are overweight. Diets high in fat and sugar, along with insufficient exercise, are noted as being primarily responsible for the epidemic.
To get to a healthy weight range takes some changes in diet and ensuring that you get sufficient exercise. There are many fun exercises that can inspire you to get off the couch. Your height will determine the ideal healthy weight range for you. For instance, a healthy weight range for a 5 foot 7 inch adult is between 128 and 160 pounds. One of the benefits of healthy eating is that it allows you to remain within a healthy weight range more easily.
Dr. David Kessler believes that the fat, salt and sugar in processed foods are addictive in many of the same ways as tobacco. Human and animal studies have both found that eating foods high in sugar and fat change brain circuitry and cause us to crave even more of them. So it's true that you “can't eat just one.” And if you are eating to lose weight you need to control both what and how much you eat.
As you begin to eat healthier meals and reduce the amount of processed foods you eat, including eliminating fast food from your diet, you will discover one of the benefits of healthy eating when those pounds begin to drop off.
Despite the high rate of obesity, there is a startling amount of malnourishment at the same time. The over-consumption of processed foods and empty calories leaves the body overweight, while at the same time causing serious deficiencies in many micronutrients essential for our health.
By eating whole, unprocessed foods you get all the nutrients that were part of the original plant or animal. Essential vitamins, minerals and fiber are present in whole foods. When you eat these foods you meet your body's nutritional needs and you're not as likely to get the munchies in between meals.
On the other hand, eating junk food reduces the levels of these chemicals in our brain, so we feel more stressed and depressed. Eating junk food appears to reduce the body's natural ability to feel pleasure. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that the unhealthy oils in junk food cause feelings of depression and anger.
Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery and physiological science at UCLA, analyzed more than 160 studies about food's effect on the brain. “Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain,” he said.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain function. According to Gómez-Pinilla, “Dietary deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in humans has been associated with increased risk of several mental disorders, including attention-deficit disorder, dyslexia, dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in rodents results in impaired learning and memory.”
Too many calories can make the brain more susceptible to free radical damage. Eating foods high in antioxidants, along with smaller food portions containing the right nutrients seem to be beneficial for brain health.
As you can see, the benefits of healthy eating are well worth the
effort it takes to make some dietary changes. But first, you need to be
aware of which foods to avoid.
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