Improving your diet doesn’t have to be complicated. Minor changes to your daily habits greatly affect your overall health and how you feel physically and mentally. Food is the primary way to give your body energy and the nutrients to protect itself. Unfortunately, grocery store aisles and restaurant menus are flooded with unhealthy choices. Therefore, properly caring for yourself takes a vital combination of awareness and dedication.
In addition to eating the best kinds of foods, you will want to consume the proper amount of calories for your activity level. Eating too many calories will lead to weight gain, while too few will leave you feeling sapped. It is all about figuring out the right course of action for you and your body. Here are some ways to easily improve your diet.
Green foods, like vegetables and fruits, are packed with much-needed vitamins and minerals. They can be easily incorporated into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack breaks. Vitamin C, calcium, iron, and folate are some of the most vital nutrients found in green veggies. For example, leafy greens like kale are linked to cancer-fighting compounds, while spinach is a tremendous source of potassium and fiber.
Avocados are known as a versatile superfood that supports immune health and helps lower bad cholesterol. Asparagus, green peppers, green beans, and apples are also great options that keep your body feeling full. Getting your nutrients through food alone can be a challenge, though. Adding a scoop of super greens powder to your favorite drink or smoothie is an easy way to stay healthy.
Processed foods come stuffed with unhealthy ingredients like sodium, fat, and sugar, so they should be minimized in your diet. These unnatural ingredients might make foods taste better, but they can damage your health. For example, sodium gives food a delicious salty taste but can cause high blood pressure and heart disease. Too much sugar can increase the risks of obesity and diabetes. Eating saturated fats can lead to conditions like heart disease and other adverse health outcomes.
You don’t have to give up all your snack-aisle favorites — just consume them in small amounts and only occasionally. Swapping out processed options for healthier choices might be easier than you think. You could start by replacing sugary sodas with water and deli meats with baked chicken. Instead of buying frozen meals, make your own at home using fresh ingredients and freeze them for later. Keep healthy snacks like fruits, cut-up veggies, and nuts on hand to avoid consuming processed snack packs.
Protein is a critical component in keeping your bones and muscles strong. Proteins help the body repair itself, build tissue, and produce red blood cells, hormones, and enzymes. You can get this essential nutrient from both plant and animal sources. Try eating more peas, beans, nuts, seeds, oats, quinoa, and lentils for plant proteins. Dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheeses are tremendous protein sources you can easily add to most meals.
Animal proteins account for almost half of the total protein consumed in the U.S. Meat, eggs, and fish are some of the most popular options. However, be mindful when eating animal products since they can contain unhealthy cholesterol and fats. Protein supplements can be a good option for those struggling to ingest enough protein through food alone.
Opting for whole grains over refined ones promotes good health and makes you feel fuller. In addition, whole grains can reduce cholesterol, insulin levels, and triglycerides. Aim to get around six or more ounces of whole grains daily. Good sources include brown rice, barley, quinoa, millet, kamut, bulgur, corn, buckwheat, oats, and wheat berries. Add these grains to your meals to boost your intake of fiber, antioxidants, zinc, and magnesium.
Study after study shows the benefits of whole grains, particularly with regard to heart health. For example, women who consume two to three daily servings of grains are 30% less likely to suffer a heart attack or heart disease. Eating the recommended amount of grains can also improve cardiovascular health and reduce cancer risks.
Proper hydration is essential to nearly every part of your body’s function, so reach for water instead of sugary drinks. Since plain water doesn’t contain calories, making it your go-to beverage contributes to better weight management and hydration. Water also helps you feel fuller, which can prevent overeating. Getting enough water doesn’t have to depend on drinks alone. Ingesting foods with high water content, like vegetables and fruits, also helps keep you hydrated.
Carrying around a reusable water bottle is a great way to remember to drink enough water throughout the day. If you find plain water boring, add a slice of lemon or lime for extra flavor and nutrients. Seltzers, juices, kombucha, and even tea and black coffee can also keep you hydrated and healthy. Given that dehydration can cause adverse health outcomes ranging from itchy skin to kidney stones, you’ll want to do your best to avoid it.
You’ve doubtless heard that a healthy diet is essential to caring for yourself. Proper nutrition helps you live longer and reduce the chances of developing damaging health conditions. While the importance of eating healthy is clear, actually finding ways to do it can be less so.
Filling your plate with nutritious foods is one of the best ways to support a good diet. But when food alone isn’t fulfilling your needs, take advantage of supplements that give you an extra health boost. A balanced diet and proper hydration will help you live your best and longest life.