It may seem obvious to say that your diet affects your health. Of course it does! Diet and exercise have long been hailed as the two most effective ways to lose weight and stay healthy, leading to longer lifespans and a greater ability to stave off illnesses of all kinds. But did you know that the benefits of your diet have even mightier and more specific outcomes? This is not talking about dieting in the restrictive, weight-loss sense, of course, but of your diet in its holistic form. Everything you put into your body has a part to play in maintaining and supporting your cells, so it’s important to be aware of how this can affect you in multiple different ways aside from weight loss. Your diet has a part to play in gut health, skincare, your five senses, and your energy levels. With the right diet, you can avoid health problems and live a fuller, more joyful life – one that you can be proud of. Here are the areas of your body most affected by your diet, and what you can do to optimize them.
First, let’s turn to the most well-known benefit of a good diet aside from weight loss and maintenance: skincare. Your skin is the main way that your health shines through; a healthy body means healthy skin, without redness, breakouts, enlarged pores, or any other ailments that the beauty industry sells billions worth of serums to ‘fix’. Keeping hydrated is always good for your skin, as it keeps it plump and well-defended against drying out, and it’s also important to stay supplied with healthy fats. The omega-3 fatty acid in fish like salmon is an essential ingredient in keeping skin moisturized, alongside the zinc and Vitamin E found in fish, avocados and nuts such as walnuts.
You might think this equates to weight loss, but there’s so much more to keeping your body fit in the long run than simply dropping a few pounds. Whilst with a weight loss diet you might be trying to cut your calories, at some point your diet will need to balance out in order to keep a healthy body going. A diet focused on improving and maintaining your fitness levels should always be combined with regular exercise, and it should comprise of lean protein sources (think chicken, turkey, lamb or tofu), complex carbohydrates (beans, vegetables, and whole grains) alongside the other major food groups. Balance and proportion is key, as well as timing; always make sure to eat following exercise so you allow your body to build muscle.
Given that your digestive system is based around consuming and processing food, it should be no surprise that your diet plays a major role in the health and functionality of your bowels! If you’re experiencing stomach pains, frequent bathroom visits, or any other difficulties, it might be time to investigate your diet. Fiber is the magic ingredient for colon health, keeping your movements regular and preventing constipation. You can get fiber from a variety of sources, including whole grains and legumes, but also many fiber-rich fruits such as bananas, apples, and berries.
At first, your vision and your diet may not seem connected at all. However, you’d be surprised at the number of essential vitamins and antioxidants contained in different foods that can boost your eyesight and decrease the risk of macular degeneration as you get older. In order to see well, it will help if your diet is rich in zeaxanthin and lutein, both of which can be found greens like spinach and kale. The idea that eating carrots makes you see in the dark might be a myth, but citrus fruits high in vitamin C will help guard against loss of eyesight, whilst the fatty acids in fish are a great tonic against dryness, degeneration and weakness.
If you’re finding that your sweat is consistently carrying a strange smell… it could be your diet! Spicy foods, as well as those high in saturated fats, alcohol, and caffeine, can all make you sweat more whilst adding unpleasant smells into the mix, such as onions, garlic, and the smell of alcohol itself. To avoid this embarrassing condition (or solve it), focus on a healthy, fiber-filled diet of fresh produce such as nuts, fruit, vegetables and soy products. Avoid oily foods and junk food as much as possible, as these will only exacerbate your body odour problems.
The keys to boosting your energy are lowering your alcohol intake, increasing hydration, and eating foods that release their energy slowly throughout the day, rather than all at once. Carbohydrates can get a bad reputation, but in this case complex carbohydrates are the perfect solution. Starchy vegetables and whole-grain bulk foods such as bread and pasta, if consumed in moderation, can be a great source of energy that will keep you fueled and ready for anything throughout the day.
When it comes to mental health, eating nutritious foods high in fibers and vitamins that increase your energy levels is certainly helpful. However, it might be more important to focus on what you need to cut out of your diet, rather than include within in. A combination of highly processed meats, high-fat dairy products, fried foods, and candies rich in artificial flavourings, has been proved to have a negative effect on mental health, leading to feelings of sluggishness, tiredness and depression. By cutting these elements out of your diet, you are not only looking after your body, but also your mind.
Your diet fuels your body, and it is therefore a key part of maintaining your immune system, enabling you to fight off any threats that might arise. A weak immune system will raise the risk that you will suffer from colds, flu, blood disorders, viruses and autoimmune diseases. To boost your immune system, make sure you’re eating foods that are high in vitamins such as vitamin C in particular. Good examples include citrus fruits, broccoli, ginger, and garlic!<