Eating healthy is very important and having a healthy diet has many benefits for the body, including building strong bones, protecting the heart from diseases, preventing communicable/non-communicable diseases and boosting the immune system.
In my article, I look at the 4 benefits of having a healthy diet and how it impacts your body.
1.) Healthy Heart:
In South Africa, hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a growing concern because it is one of the non-communicable diseases that are common amongst women and men. The condition can lead to heart problems such as heart failure, stroke and even a heart attack. Hypertension is caused by having an unbalanced diet where the wrong type of unhealthy fats are consumed, in full dairy products, fast foods and there isn’t regular exercise. Cholesterol is not our friend! The foods people eat can reduce their blood pressure and help keep their heart healthy. Eating a balanced diet of greens, oily fish, fruits and wholegrain, including lentils and certain legumes such as beans, is the best way to go in order to reduce the risk of hypertension. Some of the healthy fats can be found in canola oil, olive oil, nuts, avocado and seeds.
2.) Healthier Gut:
Being constipated is not fun nor is good for our health. The colon is a useful organ in the body as it also plays a role in digestion and our metabolism. Having an unhealthy colon can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria which can cause diseases that may affect other organs of the body. A diet low in fibre will result in constipation and inflammation of the colon. This is a painful experience because you feel like you have cramps when it isn’t that. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains provides a combination of prebiotics and probiotics found in some yoghurts which do not contain high volumes of sugar, which help good bacteria thrive in the colon. Eating foods high in fibre is the way to go if you can also get fibre supplements.
3.) Preventing Diabetes
Diabetes is another non-communicable disease (NCD) in South Africa that has a high number amongst the population. There are 2 types of Diabetes, namely Type 1 and Type 2. Both occur when the body cannot properly store and use glucose, which is what is required for energy. Type 1 diabetes patients do not produce any insulin whereas Type 2 patients do not respond well to insulin. Symptoms tend to be the same for both such as frequent urination, excessive thirst and having blurry vision. Each one has a different treatment from the other. Having a healthy diet can help a person with diabetes maintain a consistent blood glucose level and prevent any complications. Limiting how much sugar, excessive intake of carbs and refined carbs one consumes when they have diabetes is extremely important and also cutting down on foods high in saturated fats such as fried foods.
4.) Maintaining Regular Weight:
It’s no secret that as you get older, your weight tends to fluctuate a bit. This is a result of lack of exercise (because of not having enough time anymore between work and children) and also having a poor diet where takeaways are mostly consumed. Maintaining your weight can have a positive impact on your life because you will be protected from chronic health issues that are caused by being underweight or overweight. Cutting down on processed foods and adding vegetables and unsaturated fats is the way to go in maintaining a moderate weight. Consuming foods such as whole grains and green leafy vegetables are a good place to start. Healthy eating has many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, and diabetes. There is great importance in the portions one also consumes and maintaining the ‘right’ weight. It can also boost a person’s mood and provide them with more energy.