When starting the journey to getting healthy, figuring out where to look for information can be an intimidating process. Left and right, you’re told there’s a new diet trend, treatment, or exercise that’s the ultimate solution to losing weight and staying fit – as a result, it may feel impossible figuring out what’s a credible fact or not.
But in actuality, the most important information you need to feel comfortable and confident about nutrition knowledge is knowing that the actions you take for your body are always in pursuing health for your best interest. Below, we’ve compiled the best pieces of timeless information that have always helped individuals take control of their health and allow their body to flourish:
- Nutrition labels are your best friend
The primary purpose of nutrition labels is to bring awareness to the contents of a food’s serving size, such as its calories, sugar levels, and amount of sodium. By learning how to read nutrition labels, you will be able to distinguish what food is healthy versus what is not, thus enabling you to make better decisions when purchasing and consuming food. This is especially beneficial to individuals who need to watch their cholesterol levels that affect cardiovascular conditions or manage their sugar intake due to diabetes.
- Tracking macronutrients are more important than counting calories
When we’re trying to lose weight, one of the first things we immediately think of is counting calories. While it’s important to count calories to kickstart a fitness journey, focusing more on calorie intake alone can lead to hunger or overeating. That’s because calorie dense foods have a tendency to not be filling. This is where macronutrients come into the picture: macronutrients are the carbohydrates, protein, and fat found in food. By focusing more on the quality of the food that comprises macronutrients, such as vegetables and free-range chicken, you avoid obsessively concentrating on counting every single calorie in the things you eat. In reality, counting calories can lead to misunderstandings with the perceptions of food and be being negatively affected by them. Calories are not equal to one another. For example, a serving of kale in comparison to a sugary treat may possess the same amount of calories, but they will not affect your body in the same way. Macronutrients, on the other hand, emphasize eating a balanced diet.
- Mental health is directly affected by diet
Emotional health is affected by food, just like your body. In fact, food has been proven to have power in either improving or worsening mental and emotional well-being altogether. According to a UCLA study, Professor Fernando Gómez-Pinilla spent years studying the human brain and its connection with nutrition discovering that omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in salmon and nuts significantly improved one’s ability to learn, sustain memory, and combat depression, schizophrenia, and dementia. Subsequently, healthy food can benefit those in recovery as well! Healthy diets slow down the effects of aging, improve overall cognitive function, and even protect against brain damage. On the other end of the spectrum, junk food has the opposite effects of the benefits above and makes you more susceptible to brain diseases and cognitive function breakdown.
- Water is imperative for proper body function
Besides keeping you hydrated, water serves to promote proper body and organ function, eliminate waste from the body, transfer nutrients, and encourage proper digestion. In other words, water is the ultimate source of energy since every cell in our body needs it. Without water, our bodies become more prone to fatigue, low energy, and constipation. Furthermore, extended periods of dehydration can trigger sickness and heat stress, and negatively impact one’s overall mood and physical state. According to medical providers, eight 8-oz glasses is the recommended amount of water we should be drinking each day.
- Exercise while eating a healthy diet maximizes results
Eating healthy and exercising cannot exist nor reap benefits without the other. Nutrient-rich foods fuel our bodies after a workout so that we can build muscle, stay in a good mood, sustain our strength and bone density, and maintain a healthy weight. In addition, exercising and eating healthy reduces your chances of developing chronic conditions such as heart diseases which is mainly triggered by high levels of cholesterol, as well as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. If you have ever heard about someone claiming they can eat whatever they want since they exercise – don’t believe them. Eating junk food or whatever you want despite exercising will not produce any substantial gain. Rather, you never feel your best, nor can move forward with your fitness journey, and you actually put yourself at risk to developing the chronic health conditions that exercise attempts to fend off in the first place.
On a closing note, there are numerous sources of information out there to help your body flourish, but most important facts are listed above. Staying healthy is a lifestyle, but a lifestyle worth living considering the benefits will always improve your well-being and quality of life above all else.