Clean eating has long been a staple of living and being healthy. What you put into your body has a direct impact on how you function and feel. And while we all know that food impacts our weight, we aren’t always aware of the other hidden benefits that come with consuming a clean diet.
What Does it Mean to Eat Clean?
“Clean eating is a diet concept where a person avoids refined and processed foods and those that have artificial ingredients, such as certain preservatives and additives,” writes Rachel Nall, RN. “Instead, the goal is to eat whole, natural foods.”
There are different ways to eat clean. It’s possible for both meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans to eat clean. Some people cut out dairy or gluten, while other people have less stringent dietary restrictions. Within almost any dietary category, there are clean options. It’s all about how you manage it.
At the end of the day, it’s about eating foods in their natural form and avoiding foods that are significantly altered. It’s also about eating food in moderation, so as to ensure optimal balance of vitamins and nutrients.
5 Little Known Benefits
Eating clean obviously results in better weight management and greater overall health, but it goes much deeper than this. Here are some of the lesser-known benefits that come from eliminating processed foods and sticking with fresh, natural options:
1. Stronger Teeth and Bones
A clean diet supplies you with adequate amounts of calcium and magnesium – which are both integral to maintaining strong bones and teeth. Foods that are rich in calcium include low-fat dairy products, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, canned fish, legumes, and tofu. You’ll find magnesium in leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.
2. Improved Eye Health
A recent study from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China and the University of South Australia has confirmed that eating a diet rich in colorful vegetables and fruits can improve eye health and prevent cataracts.
“Their meta-analysis of 20 studies showed that the carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables with red, orange, and yellow pigments can considerably lower one’s risk of developing age-related cataracts (ARC),” Swagel Wootton Eye Institute mentions. “In fact, by adding just 10 mg of citrus fruits, red bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, or dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and kale to their daily diet, a person can reduce their risk of ARC by around 26%.”
3. Better Mood
We all experience mood swings from time to time. They can be brought on by any number of factors, including circumstantial influences, relationship troubles, stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. But there’s also evidence that food can impact mood in both positive and negative ways.
A 2016 research study found that a diet with a high glycemic load – meaning it has lots of refined carbohydrates – can increase the symptoms of depression and fatigue. On the other hand, a healthy diet with balanced vitamins and nutrients reduces these symptoms and promotes emotional stability.
4. Improved Gut Health
Most people go through life assuming that stomach issues and digestive problems are normal. However, things like bloating, excessive gas, constipation, diarrhea, and stomach pain are all signs that your digestive system is fighting back against your diet.
By eating clean, you remove the additives, preservatives, and unhealthy ingredients that go into highly processed and refined foods and replace them with the vitamins and nutrients that are needed in order to sustain proper digestion. The result is better regularity and fewer digestive problems.
5. Enhanced Memory
The human gut contains 500 million neurons, which are connected to the brain through the nervous system. The vagus nerve is one of the biggest nerves in the body and it sends signals in both directions. Thus, it should come as no surprise that what you eat has a direct impact on mental health and, in particular, your memory.
Among other clean diets, the Mediterranean Diet is beneficial because of how it incorporates vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids and polyphenols, and fish.
Start Eating Clean Today
The good news is that anyone can choose to begin eating clean at any point in time. The sooner you start, the faster you’ll reach your optimal health. When combined with regular exercise, proper sleep, and responsible management of stress and anxiety, clean eating will do wonders for your overall well-being!