A lot of the time, we equate healthy eating with weight loss. That’s not all there is to it, though. When you choose to eat healthy, it can have a significant impact on your body that can last for years.
Among other things, your eating habits can determine the appearance of chronic illnesses in the future. A healthy diet is essential for this. In this article, we discuss the long-term benefits to eating healthy and how it can affect your overall health. Let’s begin!
What Constitutes a Typical Australian Diet?
Unfortunately, the average Australian diet is unhealthier than we think.
As per a study by the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne and Brazil’s University of Sao Paolo, 42% of Australians get their energy from eating “ultra-processed food.” This is food that cannot be prepared in the kitchen of your home. Examples of ultra-processed food include:
- Mass-produced baked gods
- Chips, biscuits, and other packaged snacks
- Frozen meals
- Powdered soups
- Reconstituted meat products
- Flavoured yogurts
- Instant sauces
These have little to no nutritional value and are high in salt, sugar, and fats. Besides this, Australians also get 35.4% of their energy from meats, fruits and vegetables. The remaining 15.8% comes from processed foods like canned vegetables.
Click here to learn about 7 simple ways to make healthy food choices.
What Are the Long-term Benefits to Eating Healthy?
A poor diet can have lasting effects on your health. These are even more pronounced when coupled with an inactive lifestyle. What if you started eating healthy, though? What are the long-term benefits to eating healthy? Let’s take a look.
1. It Can Help Prevent Chronic Illnesses
One of the biggest benefits to eating healthy is that it may help you avoid chronic illnesses such as stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Heart disease can result from unhealthy lifestyle choices such as obesity, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These risk factors are almost always linked to a poor diet that is high in processed foods, trans fat, and other unhealthy dietary choices.
Medical experts also link type 2 diabetes to obesity and maintaining an inactive lifestyle.
If you choose to maintain a healthy diet, then you may be able to nip these problems in the bud and avoid developing serious illnesses when you’re older. This can improve your overall quality of life.
2. It Can Help You Live a Happier Life
The foods you eat are closely linked to your mental health. Eating processed foods and sugar can cause inflammation in your brain and other organs. This may lead to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
You can also suffer from hyperactivity, mood swings, and other emotional and mental problems.
On the other hand, if you eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it can improve brain health. These are found in fish, nuts, seeds, and plant oils. Dark green leafy vegetables can also do wonders for your brain.
Eating proper meals that support gut health can also help improve your mood. The bacteria in your gut are said to produce 95% of serotonin. This is a mood stabilizer. If you are not eating properly, it could affect the beneficial bacteria in your gut and you might experience more mood swings.
3. It Can Help You Be Smarter
Like other organs, your brain’s health can also decline with age. You can become forgetful and find it difficult to think through complex situations. A healthy diet can help counter these aspects by minimizing brain cell damage. Your cholesterol levels can make a big difference here.
For instance, according to research, people with higher levels of bad cholesterol have an increased number of amyloid plaques in their brains.
Maintaining low levels of cholesterol can help avoid this. It can also help you avoid conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Moreover, it can reduce the chances of suffering from a stroke.
4. It Can Help You Live Longer
Chronic illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes can reduce the length of your life. According to a study, even if you improve your diet by 20%, it can lower your risk of early death by 8% to 17%.
In comparison, increasing your intake of unhealthy foods by 20% can increase the risk of death by 6% to 12%. As you can see, your diet can have a significant impact on how long you live.
There are plenty of foods that you can add to your diet that can help you live longer. These include beans, berries, cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy green vegetables, and walnuts.
You can also consider eating more salmon and whole grains. Besides this, olive oil is said to have positive effects on your health too. All of these foods offer a variety of benefits that contribute to health and longevity.
Salmon, for instance, can lower the risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death. Olive oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and consuming it daily can reduce the risk of early death by 7%. Eating dark leafy green vegetables is also said to reduce the risk of heart disease by 15.8%.
In a Nutshell
There are several long-term benefits to eating healthy that can determine the quality of your life as you get older. When you maintain a healthy diet, you don’t just live longer. You are also happier.
Think about it. If you are too busy making trips to the hospital, how are you expected to enjoy life when you are older? Suffering from chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease can also cause you more stress.
So, if you are looking to maintain a healthier diet, let these things motivate you into dropping processed foods. We suggest choosing healthier options instead that can help you live a long life and improve mental health.
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