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Beyond Weight Loss

The power of food is infinite. I love when people ask me for nutrition advice, because talking about nutrition is truly my passion. I believe that what we put in our body is the force behind everything that takes place within our body. Nutrition is a challenging topic, with continuously changing research, media hype, poorly written nutrition claims and more confusion than the average person can keep up with. It is easy to get lost in the world of nutrition. “What not to eat?” “What diet to follow?” “When and how to eat?” However, what most people lose sight of is the power that food has to offer, the good that food does for our body and that food can actually improve our mental and physical well-being. As you can imagine, the number one reason that people ask me for nutrition advice, is because they have a goal in mind. That shared goal, is often weight loss. Rather than weight loss being the driver for our food choices, let’s make food choices for a reason OTHER than weight loss.  Eating healthy has far more benefits than decreasing the number on the scale, or going down a pant size. Filling up on the right foods have been shown to provide feel-better benefits and improving overall well-being. Benefits of a healthy diet range from improved heart and brain health, to a higher chance of being successful at work!  Below are ten reasons to eat healthy - other than weight loss.

It makes you happy
Fast food and pastries that are high in trans fat and sugar can throw off your brain’s levels of mood-regulating chemicals to spur symptoms of depression. Research consistently shows that health-promoting nutrients—such as omega 3's from fatty fish, and vitamin D in dairy - can boost your mood and combat depression.

It Makes You Smarter
Research from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging shows that eating a diet high in saturated and trans fats from fried and processed foods reduces your cognitive abilities. Meanwhile, high intakes of omega 3's from foods like fish, walnuts, and avocados improves brain function.

Improves your activity level
Food is fuel. Every one of your dietary decisions throughout the day impacts your exercise performance, as well as your productivity at work and other life decisions you make throughout the day. Consistently getting the hydration, and vitamins/minerals from nutrient dense foods you need, keeps your body primed and ready to work its best. 

It Scores You Better Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep will not only help you make good food choices, but good food choices also help you sleep more soundly through the night.

It Slashes Stress
Food choices have a huge influence on the level of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine as well as your levels of stress-inducing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Foods high in antioxidants such as dark chocolate, and deeply colored fruits and vegetables help reduce stress related hormones.

Healthy Skin
Staying hydrated, choosing foods with omega-3 fats, and eating more fruits and vegetables can help the body fight dry skin in the winter. Fish is the best source of omega-3 fats, but plant foods such as flax, chia and hemp seeds and walnuts also are good sources

Fight Inflammation
Inflammation is linked to everything from stress and brain fog to heart disease and cancer. According to research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who eat whole grains over refined ones cut their levels of C-reactive protein—a key indicator of inflammation—by 38 percent.

Boost Immunity
Consuming yogurt and other fermented foods containing probiotics, along with complex carbs (whole grains) can strengthen your immune system to reduce your likelihood of infections. (Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology)

Heart Health
Women are more likely to die from heart disease than from anything else. Luckily, all weight loss aside, eating right can help cut your risk. For instance, one New England Journal of Medicine study found that people who eat about a handful of nuts every day were 29 percent less likely to die from heart disease.

It Prevents Osteoporosis
Strong diet = strong bones. Apart from getting adequate dairy, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends consuming fish, fruits, and veggies. It also states that getting your sodium intake into a healthy range (a.k.a. nixing processed foods) can help ward off osteoporosis.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian

 




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