Your diet has a huge impact on how you feel, how your body functions and your disease risk. In fact, here is a list of the numerous ways, a healthier diet can positively impact you! But making your diet healthier can feel overwhelming and you may not know where to start. Well, the good news is, you don’t have to change everything, because even small changes can have a BIG difference! So, pick one if these items and start making some positive changes to your diet!
1) Veggies, Veggies, Veggies
Vegetables are one of the healthiest things you can put in your body. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that all work together to take care of your body and feeling great. The goal for optimal health is to have 5 servings of vegetables a day. This will not only help lower your disease risk but it will also help reduce your waist line. A good rule of thumb is simply to have veggies with every meal. Having some eggs for breakfast? Throw in some mushrooms and peppers. Having a sandwich for lunch? Add some lettuce and cucumber. Having a smoothie? Mix in some spinach or kale. Another good way too approach it is to have a small salad at the start of every meal— yes even breakfast. Why not start enjoying a little breakfast salad? This approach has you eating veggies when you are hungriest which often leads to eating smaller, healthier meals overall.
2) Tweak Your Desserts
Desserts are often some of the most nutritionally void meals we consume. They are loaded with sugars and unhealthy fats and leave us feeling bloated and gross. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Swapping out desserts for healthier options can have a huge impact on how you feel and how your body functions. Instead of cakes, cookies, or candy, try having fresh fruit (maybe with a dollop of whip cream?) or a few squares of dark chocolate as a dessert. You will honor your sweet tooth while also taking care of the rest of your body.
3) Make it Complex
Complex carbs are usually referring to whole food-based carbohydrates, which are unrefined plant foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and veggies. Because these foods are unrefined, they still contain all of their natural fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which makes them nutrient powerhouses. These complex carbs are called such because they are longer, more complex chains of carbon molecules that take much longer to break down in the body, which prevents the blood sugar spikes and drops that you see with simple carbs. Ultimately these complex carbs provide a slow release of energy for the body while providing it with much needed nutrients and fiber. So swap out that white bread for whole wheat, that white rice for brown rice or quinoa, and that cereal for oatmeal. Your body will reward you for the change!
4) Taste The Rainbow
Eating a wide range of produce colors can amp up all of your body’s systems and significantly reduce your risk of illness. Each color of produce has a different type of phytochemical which produces different health benefits. For example, red foods help lower your cancer risk while purple foods help reduce chronic inflammation. Try to eat each color of the rainbow everyday! Easiest way to do that? A fun colorful salad. Or, try this rainbow pizza!
5) Eat What You Know
If you don’t know what it is or how to pronounce it, it’s probably not doing good things for your body. By eating whole foods or foods with ingredients that you know, you will take care of your body and your brain. In particular, you want to be on the lookout for chemicals that are designed to be hyper-appealing to the brain! Chief among them? Monosodium Glutamate! Other good ingredients to avoid: high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated anything, textured anything, and modified anything. Stick to ingredients you know and that are or are from whole foods and your body will thank you with these amazing benefits!
6) Take Care Of Your Gut
A gut-friendly diet will help your body fight infection, control your appetite, balance your mood, and keep your systems functioning effectively. This means eating lots of probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotic-fortified foods, like yogurt, kombucha, and kimchee, and tempeh, contain live bacteria that colonize the lower gut and yield beneficial effects there. Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers which do not get digested and remain unchanged in the stomach. Once they reach the colon, prebiotics become food for the good colon microbes where they are broken down and are used as fuel. This results in better gut health and improved digestion, a win-win situation for everyone!