It’s no secret that eating healthily is important. But did you know that there is a slew of benefits to being health-conscious that have nothing to do with weight loss or reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases? In fact, healthy eating can improve your sleep quality, help regulate your mood and even give your taste buds a flavor boost. So from the benefits of the number-one-ranked Mediterranean diet to modelling good behaviors for our kids and partners, here are seven benefits of eating healthily that you may not have considered.
1) Better Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and behaviors that promote good sleep. And what you eat (or don’t eat) can significantly impact your sleep quality. So if you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, clean eating may be the answer.
A study published in the journal Mediators of Inflammation examined the effects of dietary nutrition on sleep and sleep disorders. They found that what we eat has a significant impact on how we sleep because nutrition directly affects hormones and inflammation, which, in turn, can affect sleep quality. So if you’re looking to get some shut-eye, focus on eating foods that promote sleep hygiene like magnesium-rich dark leafy greens, walnuts and salmon.
2) The Gut-Brain Connection Advantage
You’ve probably heard the saying “You are what you eat,” but did you know that what you eat can also impact your mood and mental health? That’s because there’s a strong connection between the gut and the brain, which is often referred to as the “gut-brain connection.”
Your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as your gut microbiome. This microbiome plays a vital role in your overall health, including mood and mental health. In fact, research has shown that the gut microbiome may influence everything from anxiety and depression to autism and schizophrenia. So if you’re looking to improve your mental health, focus on eating foods that promote a healthy gut microbiome like fermented foods, probiotics and prebiotics.
3) Improved Self-Esteem
There’s no denying that eating healthfully can be a challenge, especially if you’re used to eating junk food. But the effort is worth it because eating healthily can improve your self-esteem.
A study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics found that adolescents who followed the Mediterranean diet — a healthy diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fish — had higher self-esteem than those who didn’t.
This is likely because eating healthfully helps people feel better about their bodies and themselves. So if you’re looking to boost your self-esteem, focus on eating nutritious foods that make you feel good. And if you’d like to get started with the Mediterranean Diet but don’t know how, look into a Mediterranean diet meal delivery service.
4) Controls Cravings
When our diets are a mess, our cravings can get out of control. In several studies, high-glycemic foods, high in carbohydrates and refined sugar, have been linked to addicting neurochemical and behavioral responses. In plain English, eating sugary, processed foods can cause us to crave more of them in the same way that folks might crave drugs or alcohol.
But eating a healthy diet can help control these cravings by keeping blood sugar levels stable. When blood sugar levels are stable, we’re less likely to experience drastic energy fluctuations that can cause us to crave sugary, processed foods. So if you want to get your cravings under control, focus on eating a diet that’s high in protein and fiber and low in refined carbohydrates and sugar.
5) Financial Benefits
You may not realize it, but eating healthily can save you money. This is because of the good habits that come along with healthy eating, such as meal planning and prep, cooking at home and avoiding processed foods.
Meal planning and prep can help you save money by reducing food waste and making it more likely that you’ll eat at home. And cooking at home is almost always cheaper than eating out. Finally, avoiding processed foods can save you money because these foods are often more expensive than whole, unprocessed foods. So if you want to save money, focus on eating healthfully. And if you need help with your planning, even if you follow a gluten-free diet or the low FODMAP diet, meal delivery services can help.
6) Flavors Improve
When you eat a diet of processed foods, your taste buds become desensitized to natural flavors. But when you eat a healthy diet, your taste buds become more sensitive to the subtle flavors of whole, unprocessed foods.
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High-calorie diets with high sugar content, according to research, may alter taste sensation at the molecular, neural and behavioral levels both directly and indirectly. In other words, eating a lot of sugary, processed foods can make it harder for you to taste subtle flavors. But eating healthfully can help improve your sense of taste. So if you want to enjoy the flavor of your food more, focus on eating healthily.
7) Role Model for Kids, Family and Friends
If you have kids, eating healthfully sets an excellent example for them. But even if you don’t have kids, eating healthily can still set a good example for your family and friends. After all, we are what we eat.
When you eat a healthy diet, you’re improving your own health and the health of those around you. And when people see that you’re making healthy choices, they’re more likely to make healthy choices themselves. For example, around 90% of Americans over two years old have more than the recommended daily sodium intake in their diet. So if you’re keen on impacting those around you, eating a low-sodium diet that focuses on more whole foods can go a long way. And if you’re not sure how that works, sign up for a low-sodium meal delivery service and let someone else do the hard work for you.
The Results Are Everywhere
Too often, the focus of our health journey success is measured by scale numbers and how many abs we can see in the mirror. But those aren’t the only things that matter and, often in some cases, they don’t even matter at all. So if you’re looking for more reasons to commit to eating healthily, just know that the benefits are everywhere. There’s nothing not to like about eating healthfully, from better sleep and concentration to a longer life and lower healthcare costs. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start your health journey today.