8 Reasons to Clean Up Your Diet (Besides Weight Loss)
You'll Have Healthy Gums and Teeth
Digestion begins in the mouth, so it may come as no surprise that healthy gums and teeth are a by-product of a clean diet. Eliminating sticky, sugary foods and sweetened beverages helps maintain a healthy environment in your mouth and cuts the risk of developing cavities and gingivitis. If you do have a sweet tooth, try satisfying those cravings with natural forms of sugar like those found in fruit, and mix it with plain Greek yogurt instead. Plus, the calcium in yogurt makes a major contribution to your smile by strengthening your teeth. For more, check out How to Whiten Your Teeth Naturally with Food.
You'll Have Shiny Hair and Strong Nails
A healthy diet, containing omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals is a surefire way to get strong hair and nails that are worthy of all that time (and money) you spend getting mani-pedis and blowouts. Your hair and nails are made of protein, so be sure to include foods like fish, poultry, eggs, beans, and nuts to keep strands strong. Additionally, a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables will provide vitamins C, E and biotin to help grow long locks and durable nails.
You'll Have More Energy
Do you ever feel like climbing under your desk for a nap by noon? Assuming you had a good night's sleep, your breakfast could be the culprit. Morning meals that lack proper amounts of protein can zap your energy. To kickstart your energy, the first meal of the day should contain three important components: protein, whole grain carbs, and healthy fat. Like three legs of a stool, these nutrients support each other, and when combined, they support your energy reserves. Try crunchy almond butter on whole grain bread, or a bowl of cold cereal with skim milk and chopped nuts to help you feel plugged-in till lunch. We also love these 5 Power Breakfasts to Start Your Day Off Right.
You'll Feel More Full
Eating a well-balanced combination of whole grain carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats will evenly provide energy for your body over the course of several hours, letting your hunger cues rest. A quick DIY turkey and avocado sandwich on whole grain bread at lunch could ditch that afternoon slump and dismiss the urge to visit the vending machine. Including this winning combo of nutrients in every meal and snack can prevent the overeating that leads to feeling bloated and uncomfortable.
You'll Reduce Your Risk for Disease
Even if you feel great today, it's smart to take a closer look at some of the faulty habits that could predict your health later. If you have a tendency to throw foods into your cart without reading food labels...get cart smart. Highly processed foods often contain extra sodium, sugar, or fat that add unnecessary calories and additives, all of which have been linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes. By making sure half of your plate holds fruits and veggies, and by exploring the world of plant proteins like beans, soy, and nuts you'll aim to prevent disease instead of inviting it in.
You'll Have Good Mental Health
Clean eating supports physical as well as mental health. A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids has been known to alleviate depression and ward off moodiness while B vitamins are precursors to the feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Developing a healthy relationship with real food and eating mindfully can empower your body and feed your soul.
You'll Be Better at Your Job
A diet composed of real, whole foods will fuel your brain and help keep you focused. Protein-dense foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, cheese, and eggs boost the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps you stay sharp. Whole grains like whole wheat pasta and brown rice, and seeds like chia and quinoa are energizing feel-good foods that help smooth out blood sugar levels to help you navigate through an overloaded schedule.
You'll Sleep Better
If you're tossing and turning all night long, your bedtime snack may be to blame. Skip the candy or leftover takeout, which can wind you up before you turn down. Instead, choose foods naturally high in tryptophan (yep, the same stuff that knocks you out at Thanksgiving), such as skim or low-fat milk or a small handful of almonds, which provide protein and melatonin to help soothe you into slumber.