Happy New Year!
As each new year rolls around, many of us take some time to re-evaluate our level of health and overall wellness.
Building a healthy body
There are several aspects to being healthy, like consuming nutrient-dense foods, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough movement and rest each day, connecting in positive ways with those around us, and having a purpose.
Each of these aspects of health is important, but the food we choose to eat each day can have profound effects on our overall health that can be either good or bad.
Here are a few ways that the foods we eat can impact our overall health, and foods to eat that will help us improve our health in the new year.
Food impacts our health
Whole foods contain nutrients that the body uses for growth, development, and maintenance, and these nutrients provide information to the body on how to function (1).
Our immune system requires nutrients like vitamins A, E, B9, B6, B2, C, and minerals like zinc, magnesium, and selenium to function properly (2).
The detoxification process requires nutrients like vitamins B2, B3, B6, B9, and B12 as well as glutathione and flavonoids in Phase I, while nutrients like B5, B9, B12, choline, vitamin C, methionine, cysteine, taurine, glycine, glutamine, and magnesium are required for Phase II liver detoxification (3).
Whole foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean meats, fish, and legumes contain nutrients the body requires, and a varied, balanced diet of whole foods that meet your individual needs can provide the nutrients necessary for health.
Vegetables and fruits provide the body with macronutrients for energy, vitamins, and minerals, as well as antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative damage. Plants also contain phytonutrients that help reduce inflammation, repair DNA damage, assist detoxification, and boost immunity (4). For example, carotenoid-rich foods like carrots and oranges can influence DNA repair (4). These plant foods also contain fiber which slows carbohydrate absorption, improves glycemic control and blood pressure, promotes a sense of fullness (satiety), aids digestion, and helps to prevent chronic conditions like diabetes (5).
Meat, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are important sources of nutrients like protein used to build body structure and produce hormones that control and regulate functions in the body like sleep and hunger, and enzymes that enable reactions to take place, like gastric lipase that breaks down dietary fats into smaller parts like fatty acids that are then used by the body for structure, as hormones, and fuel for the body (6) (7) (8).
You can read more about how food impacts our health here.