Why eat healthy?
Good health is sustainable; illness is not. I personally choose to eat healthfully as I wish to avoid illnesses such as diseases, cancers and premature death. Being healthy enables me to prolong my life’s duration and also enhance my life’s quality.
Whether it’s mood level or physical capabilities, nutrition affects almost every aspect of our lives. Being overweight is not fun, nor is having low production of healthy hormones within the body leading to detrimental mood swings and even depression.
Everybody has their own personal reasons as to why they eat the way they eat; I have consciously chosen to pursue good nutrition based on solid science to reverse some of the health damage encountered during my childhood such as bad acne and depression. Eating healthy has allowed me to eliminate my acne, cure my depression and focus on longevity and happiness. Good health is a journey which some embark on for weight loss, to reverse illnesses, or simply to prevent problems occurring later down the track (prevention is better than cure, and most diseases and cancers are resulted from poor diets and lifestyles).
Once you experience what truly healthy feels like, there’s no going back. Unfortunately, this is a state of being people seldom experience as we are indoctrinated into a society of unhealthy habits immediately from birth.
What is the healthiest diet?
This question can not easily be answered concisely, as human nutrition is a complex subject. There is no healthiest diet, per se, as we have different dietary requirements and live in different circumstances as individuals. However, the best general dietary guidelines which are best for the majority of humans is a diet consisting predominantly of plant foods, high in carbohydrates, and low in fat. Some individuals require higher amounts of protein than others, and some people thrive with additional healthful fats, but the basis remains the same for all – packed with carbohydrates, the primary fuel for the human body.
Speaking of the healthiest diet also isn’t necessarily productive either, as what’s additionally important is what’s practical. An extremely healthy diet could likely consist of a meal of berries for breakfast, and large salads and dishes of legumes with large portions of brussel sprouts and broccoli too for lunch and dinner. Such a diet would be expensive and impractical for most. The healthiest diet is a healthy diet that you are also going to follow and enjoy (enjoyment is a very important aspect of eating). There’s no point theorizing over the healthiest diet if nobody is going to eat it.
In general, we should aim to eat large amounts of: fruits, with an emphasis on berries; non-starchy vegetables, especially green vegetables; leafy greens; and legumes. Starches like potatoes and whole grains, if necessary for extra caloric needs, can also be included in healthy diets. There are many different tasty combinations of foods that can meet daily nutritional requirements, so long as foods are mostly from plant (or fungi) origin, and junk foods like animal products (steak, milk, cheese, etc.), refined carbohydrates (white bread, cakes, sweets, processed foods, etc.), and other unhealthful foods are avoided or kept to an absolute minimum.
Just as eating a bowl of broccoli doesn’t necessarily make someone healthy if they otherwise consume predominately unhealthful foods, occasional consumption of unhealthy foods in an otherwise healthy diet will do little harm. It’s the lifestyle that is important. (Meaning, an occasional steak could be consumed maybe once a month without significantly negatively impacting your health, but when this becomes a daily habit, plus not-so-occasional additions of cakes, sweets and white bread products, you can no longer claim to be on a healthy diet.)
Keep in mind that your body is never not watching; everything you put into your body has some form of affect.
What are the healthiest foods?
This is immediately obvious: plant foods. However, answering such a question can also be unproductive, as it is not individual foods that are of great significance, but the overall holistic diet.
We generally know what the healthiest foods are, whether or not we actually consume them ourselves. These foods are fruits, vegetables, legumes and mushrooms. Within these categories consist different varying levels of healthfulness; e.g. strawberries are healthier than bananas, and lentils are healthier than beans. But each of these foods provide healthful properties and some nutrients are abundant in some foods while not so abundant in others.
While some foods may be more healthy than others, this is not justification to avoid particular foods. Broccoli is extremely more healthful than potato, but that does not mean potato cannot be a healthy component of diet (you also could simply not physically consume enough broccoli to meet any normal caloric needs). Starches like potatoes and whole grains – while not necessarily as high in nutrients as other non-starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes and mushrooms – are not unhealthful.
What are unhealthy foods?
The answer to this usually surprises most people. We are brought up within a society where we supposedly eat meat for protein, drink milk for calcium and eat fish for healthy omega-3 fatty acids, while we ignorantly ignore actual nutrition science which tells us not to consume these products in such high amounts. While we generally all know that donuts, cakes, processed foods and fast foods are unhealthy foods, it can be surprising for some people to learn that in fact steak, dairy, oils and even white bread can also be classed as unhealthy foods.
An unhealthy food, put simply, is a food which has been shown to have detrimental effects on human health without some form of moderation (you never hear people becoming sick from eating too many fruits and vegetables, for example, as these healthy foods do not require moderation, but even small servings of unhealthy foods can result in poor human health).
While this list isn’t definitive, it’s a good baseline. In general, if a food comes sold in a package – or if it even has an ingredients list that requires reading – then it’s probably unhealthy. Most of the foods we purchase shouldn’t require extensive labeling – fruits, vegetables, legumes, mushrooms, whole grains, nuts, seeds, etc., do not require ingredient lists.