Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet provides your body with the essential nutrients it needs to function on a daily basis. Healthy foods keep your brain active, provide you with energy and strengthen bones and muscles. Maintaining a healthy diet can also help you manage your weight, prevent chronic diseases and alleviate stress.
Chronic disease is the leading cause of disability and death in the United States. In 2007, less than 22 percent of high school students and only 24 percent of adults reported eating the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, reports the CDC. Improving eating habits by maintaining a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and lean meats can help prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and stroke.
Healthier foods, like fruits and vegetables, are typically low in saturated fat and have fewer calories than their unhealthy counterparts. When consumed regularly, fruits and vegetables can help you manage your weight. High-fiber foods are also healthy foods that are at the cornerstone of weight management. Fiber helps you stay full for longer periods, so you eat smaller portions and fewer calories, but still feel satisfied. Whole grains are a good source of fiber.
Stress can compromise your immune system and lead to many health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. Healthy foods contain vitamins and other nutrients that can reduce stress, including magnesium, serotonin and antioxidants. Magnesium improves the body's response to stress and is found in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seafood. Protein and complex carbohydrates increase serotonin levels, a natural mood-boosting substance. Fruits contain high levels of antioxidants, helping to reverse negative effects of stress.
Food provides your body with energy to function properly. Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system converts carbohydrates into glucose, a sugar that is used for energy. Healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans provide nutrients, minerals and fiber that supply you with energy for sustained periods. Unhealthier carbohydrates, like white bread, pastries and sugary sodas can provide you with immediate energy, but may leave you feeling sluggish shortly after.
- girl with peach. Isolation on white image by mashe from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.