Most people agree that we are what we eat. But do our dietary habits really impact our quality of life? How does nutrition affect your overall health? Understanding how each bite of food changes the maintenance of body functions is critical for making improvements in diet.

Several studies have confirmed that proper nutrient intake (or the lack thereof) not only affects our nutritional well-being but can also alleviate or worsen a host of mental health and physical health conditions.

Here, we’ll be looking at how healthy and unhealthy diets impact the human body.

How Does Nutrition Affect Your Overall Health?

Not having a diet rich in nutritional foods can have several debilitating effects on your health. Individuals who don’t pay close attention to the types of food they eat are at higher risk of suffering:

Lower Energy Levels

True, a primary perk of eating for most people is that they get to sample a wide variety of food choices. However, when you do this in excess, you may eventually develop a poor diet.

Because only a well-balanced diet has all the nutrients necessary for the production of energy, failing to consume the appropriate foods means that you may have to struggle with lower energy levels.

Healthy eating to ensure you have an ample energy supply requires that your diet consists of food items like fresh fruit, fresh vegetables (green vegetables and leafy greens), and other unprocessed meals. These foods contain lots of fiber.

Dietary fiber will supply your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs to function at optimal levels.

This is in sharp contrast to what is seen when your daily food intake consists of salty foods, carbonated beverages, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

According to the Harvard Health Blog, such an unhealthy diet will not only spike and crash your blood sugar level but will also impair proper blood flow as well. Apart from the long-term harm this poses to your daily health, it also ensures that you’re lethargic and lack energy.

Decreased Immunity

Young man immune system needs a booster

Bad habits when it comes to eating have also been shown to get in the way of living a healthy and active life. This is because, when you’re on a poor diet, you’re more likely to succumb to a wide range of health conditions.

However, more than just compromising your physical health, poor nutrition can also ensure that you spend much of your time on the road to full recovery.

While most people will inevitably fall ill at some point in their lives, individuals who follow a healthy eating plan and drink plenty of water generally tend to have a significantly stronger immune system.

What’s more, when they do go down with illness, their body can fight the disease off and recover faster.

Poorer Quality of Sleep

When your diet is missing a key nutrient like potassium, you may find that your sleep quality will be negatively affected.  Vitamins and minerals like magnesium, iron, vitamin D, and omega-3 also play a not-insignificant role here as well.

As omega-3 fatty acids and these other key nutrients aren’t found in most random foods, you usually have to be deliberate about including them in your diet.

It’s also worth mentioning that maintaining a poor diet is a common trigger for obesity. In turn, obesity can cause or aggravate conditions like restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

Along these lines, it’s critical to remember that you still have to be careful, even when you’re showing a healthy weight gain and a healthy body mass index. This is because not maintaining proper nutrition practices and drinking plenty of liquids can cause conditions like acid reflux and heartburn. These are two conditions that can make achieving REM sleep very difficult.

Mood Swings and Emotional Imbalance

We’ve talked about how foods like cakes, biscuits, and other contributors to an unhealthy diet can affect your blood sugar level and even blood cholesterol levels. However, such diets can contribute to an even more profound human health decline, namely poorer emotional balance.

A connection between bad nutrition and levels of depression has been firmly established. One study suggests that people with depression were more likely to have been on a poor diet, to begin with.

One possible cause of this is that the high concentration of blood sugar imposed a heavy glycemic load on their system, triggering insulin responses and possibly raising levels of depression in the process.

The opposite is seen with people who follow a strict healthy eating plan and take plenty of fluids. The huge health benefits of consuming healthy food also extend to reducing levels of depression and helping people better cope with fatigue.

Higher Chances of Memory Impairment

Shying from nutritional foods can also pose potential long-term mental health problems as well. Several studies have confirmed that there is a link between what we eat and proper brain functioning.

Not eating well can put you at increased risk of cognitive decline, poorer brain health, and dementia, especially as you grow older. Meanwhile, a well-balanced diet ensures that your mental faculties stay sharp both short and long-term.

Eating the right solid foods and soft foods also protects your brain from medical conditions like inflammation and excess oxidative stress on the brain.

Increased Potential for Stroke and Heart Disease

It’s been confirmed that stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks can be caused by a wide variety of factors. However, two things that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke exponentially are high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

Cardiovascular diseases born from these two elements can usually be traced back to unhealthy consumption of a diet rich in sodium.

According to the American Heart Association, the recommended maximum intake of sodium per day shouldn’t exceed 2,300 mg. The more you consume carbonated beverages and food items from a packaged food processor, the more unlikely it is that you’ll be able to stay within these parameters.

Favoring fat-free or low-fat dairy products, foods with lots of fiber, and leading an active life remains the best way to protect your heart health, and prevent cardiometabolic diseases and the potential risk of death that they bring.

Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

As we mentioned earlier, poor dietary habits can result in obesity. Apart from the fact that obesity can restrict your quality of life, it can put you at greater risk of type 2 diabetes, especially when compared to individuals who are keeping a healthier diet.

This is because each bite of food that doesn’t add any relevant nutrient to your body directly or indirectly contributes to your body’s inability to respond to the insulin it’s being supplied with.

You must be conscious of this fact because a recent study showed that about 96 million adults in the United States are living with prediabetes — and many of these people aren’t even aware that they have this condition.

Because of this, one wrong step can be all it takes to fall into a full-blown onset of type 2 diabetes, a condition that’s currently incurable.

The only sure way of preserving your daily health here is to ensure that you monitor what you eat closely and try to be more physically active.

Increased Potential of Different Types of Cancers

Shunning nutritional foods can also put you at greater risk of certain types of cancer growth. From consuming sugar-sweetened beverages to eating improperly processed dry foods, you can put your body in considerable danger when you don’t eat healthy foods.

As an example, colorectal cancer has been directly tied to the excess consumption of red meat and processed meat stuff. Studies have also suggested a link between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and uterine cancer in women.

Another report confirms that women who consume carbonated beverages are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. At least ten other types of cancers have been directly and indirectly traced to bad nutrition.

Staying on a healthy diet reduces your predisposition to all of these health conditions.

Best Tips for Eating Healthy

Now that you have your answer to the question of how does nutrition affect your overall health, you see how important it is that you develop healthy eating habits.

Some things you can do along those lines include:

  • Add fresh fruit and veggies to your daily diet.
  • Eat salty foods sparingly.
  • Avoid any diet rich in trans fats.
  • Consume less sugar.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water.
  • Limit the size of the portions you eat.
  • Have a well-laid-out plan for your meals.
  • Visit your doctor or health provider at regular intervals. You’ll be able to quickly tell if something’s wrong with your diet that way.

Bottom Line

How does nutrition affect your overall health?

Short answer: profoundly.

The huge health benefits of eating right far outweigh any temporary pleasures that may be had from eating junk food. But even with that, it’s certainly true that it won’t be so easy to shake off old habits.

Reach out to us today if you’re ready to start making healthy choices with your meals.

We’re always happy to help!

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Clare