Over recent decades governments and authorities around the world have invested huge sums in trying to educate people about the importance of nutrition.
The above really shouldn’t come as a surprise; more and more people are becoming overweight and as such, the burden on health services is becoming stronger.
In tackling poor nutrition, science dictates that it suddenly becomes much easier to live longer, healthier lives.
Some of the studies which have been conducted alongside this are bordering on scary. For example, medical specialists in the Netherlands found that if you start to put on significant amounts of weight beyond your mid-30s, your life will shorten by an average of seven years.
If you happen to be a smoker, it’s understood that this figure increases to thirteen years.
As such, the importance of healthy living is absolutely crucial – it can literally take decades off your life expectancy. We don’t need to go into how many events you could potentially miss and other morbid facts based on this – we all know that it just shouldn’t happen and it is easily avoidable.
An issue that is often ignored is just how nutrition can negatively impact our minds as well. While the foods we consume have a direct correlation on our body, which is there for all to see, they also affect us mentally.
Whether it’s the immune system or your brain health – it should always be reiterated that your mind will be affected substantially by what foods enter your body.
But just how do you maintain a healthy life based on nutrition? Carbohydrates, proteins, fatty acids, water and various vitamins and minerals are paramount to this – but many of us don’t know where to start. Here is an overview of each category, to show just how you should be treating your nutrition in a bid to live longer.
Let’s start with one of the simplest topics; proteins. Over the years this is one of the food types that have gained the most traction, for the simple reason that it’s associated with “lean” bodies. As we all know, anyone with such a body is most probably healthy.
Without protein, our muscles just aren’t able to function correctly. However, what a lot of people fail to realize is that proteins play a key part when it comes to the health of our brain as well.
This is because enzymes and neuro-meridians, which react with the brain, are actually classed as proteins and we therefore need significant quantities of them to function properly.
This is one of the trickier topics to discuss. When we spoke about protein – the basic overview is that protein is great for our body. When it comes to carbs, this isn’t necessarily always the case.
Let’s firstly give an overview on what carbohydrates are. Typically, most of us will know them due to the fact they are based around foods like bread, pasta and other whole-grain goods. It means that they are ideal fuel for the body, and this is what most of us rely on them for.
If your body wasn’t receiving sufficient carbohydrates, you would most probably suffer from mental blocks. If you also happen to be diabetic, the effects can be significantly worse and you can experience hypoglycemia. As such – they’re hugely important.
Now, let’s move onto the more complicated issue. Carbohydrates tend to only be a good thing when they are consumed in their complex state.
This refers to foods such as oatmeal, brown rice and lentils. This means that they are comprised of three or more sugars, have a low glycemic index and are digested very slowly. The upshot of this is that they provide our body with plenty of energy and don’t cause any sudden spikes in insulin levels.
The “bad carbs” are described as simple carbohydrates and include white flour, milk and honey. These have the opposite characteristics to complex carbohydrates, in the way that they are absorbed very quickly and can spike your insulin levels.
As they are absorbed so quickly, they are often stored as fat before they can be used as energy by the body.
Next, we’re onto the issue of fats. If you’ve read up little on nutrition, you’ll probably be under the assumption that fats need to be cast aside as a matter of urgency.
After all, we spoke about life expectancy and obesity in the introduction to this guide – and surely fats are going to hinder us in this regard?
As it turns out, fats can actually be a good thing. Just like carbohydrates, there are different types and if you do opt for the right one, they can work wonders for your overall health.
Sure, junk food should be on the way out as a matter of urgency. We don’t need to list examples here; but anything which is publically denounced as unhealthy is going to clog your arteries and generally put your cardiovascular system into jeopardy.
On the flip side, we have the healthy fats. Classed as monounsaturated fats, these include the likes of almonds, walnuts, olive oil and peanuts.
All of these are essential for everyday functions and without them, we will suffer. Again, we’ll emphasize the mental health point here. These fats help structure the nerve cells which are present in the brain and without them, your brain is much less likely to function as effectively as it really should.
Vitamins and Iron
Out of all of the food types we have looked at, it should probably come as no surprise to read that vitamins and iron are amongst the most important when it comes to your mental health.
Studies have found that if you lack Vitamin B-9, there’s an increased chance that you will start to experience memory loss as you age.
Elsewhere, iron can stop your red blood cell count decreasing, and subsequently allow more oxygen to be delivered to the brain.
There are other vitamins which can affect your mental state as well though. Adding the following to your diet can make a difference and ultimately add a degree of protection to your brain:
- Vitamin B-6/B-12: These are vitamins which are commonly found in fish. The main benefit is that they provide added memory strength.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C has been found to enhance the blood circulation in the brain. It goes without saying that the more blood that is being circulated, the more nutrients that can be delivered.
- Vitamin E: Perhaps one of the most interesting vitamins, Vitamin E is contained within olives and walnuts. It can delay your biological membranes from aging.
Finally, we’re onto something that we should all know something about. For as long as the world spins round the advice on water isn’t going to change; it’s essential to drink and you can only go around three days without it.
It’s understood that our body is comprised of 70% water, while it loses approximately 1/2 gallon every day that obviously needs to be replaced. While food can be a decent source of water, it goes without saying that we need to consume it in liquid form so our levels aren’t depleted.