We’ve all heard it before: we are what we eat. The old adage has been around for decades, but is it really a universal truth that we can use food as medicine or just a widespread misconception? Now that innovations in medicine are pushing our lifespans higher and exercise is being touted as the ultimate solution for everything that ails us, could eating well still be the key to better health? Most experts think so, calling good nutrition essential for preventing illness and keeping our minds and bodies in tip top shape from our birth to our golden years.
Why Is Good Nutrition Important?
At first glance, the benefits of filling your diet with healthy foods can seem exaggerated. How can something as simple as a blueberry smoothie or a grilled salmon fillet fight conditions as powerful as cancer and heart disease? The secret behind the power of good food lies in its impressive nutritional profile, a collection of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants that energize our bodies and brains with healthy fuel while shielding our cells from damage.
Using Food as Medicine
When trying to eat better, many of us rely on food manufacturers to tell us which foods are healthy and which aren’t. Unfortunately, packaging is often misleading, and it happens more than you would think. For example, products that are advertised as low in fat can be high in artificial sugars and preservatives. Until you learn to read labels like a pro, the trick to avoiding bad food masquerading as good food is to stack your cart with fresh, all-natural ingredients, starting with these nutritional heavy hitters:
Packed with filling fibers and essential nutrients, leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, spinach and kale deliver hydration, support healthy tissue and guard against aging.
Berries are loaded with antioxidants, tiny molecules that help reduce signs of aging and fight disease-causing free radicals.
Nuts and Fish
Both are excellent sources of healthy proteins and omega-3s, fatty acids thought to reduce inflammation and heart disease.
Rich in disease-fighting polyphenols, green tea boosts metabolism, reduces the risk of heart conditions and helps prevent cancer.
How to Make Your New Diet Stick
Our brains are naturally programmed to dislike change, even when it’s good for us. If your diet needs an upgrade, start slow to avoid overwhelming your taste buds with too many new tastes and textures.
Try making one small substitution a week until you’re ready to take on entire meal plans – think about replacing high-sugar cereal with fresh fruit or serving wild salmon instead of red meat. As your body learns to associate higher energy levels and better mood with eating healthy, making smart choices at the table will feel less like a chore and more like second nature. You will soon see that using food as medicine make you feel better than ever.