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  • Khristina Raglin

Healthy Living: How Food Affects the Body and Mind

Be mindful of what you eat…



https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a27761906/processed-foods-bad-for-heart-brain-health/


Americans are known to be busybodies that are constantly on the run due to work and other responsibilities. So what’s the easiest and quickest way to get a meal in? Fast food. The fast food industry makes about $200 billion a year in the United States alone. The United States ranks at number 12 for the highest obesity rate globally with 36.2%. The ranking system contains 191 countries in total, so as you van imagine that’s pretty high up the totem pole!

Health issues affect a large portion of the United States. 34.2 million Americans, or 10.5% of the population, unfortunately, have diabetes. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death for Americans with about 655,000 deaths yearly. The main causes of heart disease are hypertension, high cholesterol, and smoking. While not every death from heart disease is from an unhealthy lifestyle, many are. So, what is the reason behind many Americans living unhealthy lifestyles?

Fast food and other processed foods are more easily accessible than healthy foods because of location and pricing. Natural and organic foods such as fruits and vegetables cost more because of the farming process that involves human labor. Processed foods like chips, cereal, sodas, and frozen meals have no farming process because they involve machine labor. Situations like environmental racism make it harder for people to get their hands on organic foods. This is why people opt for foods like pizza, fried chicken, and burgers.

While these foods can be fine in moderation, highly processed foods have negative effects on the human mind and body. Sugar-sweetened drinks contain high fructose corn syrup, which is quickly absorbed in the gut. Instead of the sugar being used as fuel, it ends up being stored, which creates body fat. Processed foods also contain seldom fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, which are things we need. Many starches like bread, pasta, cookies, and crackers affect the body just like sugar and end up getting stored. Eating these foods daily, which most people do, will create health problems, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. As for effects on the brain, processed foods increase the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.

However, eating foods like fruits and vegetables reduce these health risks. They are packed with fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. They’re also slower at absorbing sugar, which reduces the insulin surge that many unhealthy foods have. Green leafy vegetables reduce the risk of cognitive decline, berries help improve memory, and fish reduces the risk of brain-damaging clumps that are seen in people with Alzheimer’s.

The best thing to do is to find a balance. Eat mostly healthy proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting the number of processed foods. It’s okay to treat yourself now and then, but unhealthy foods shouldn’t be your daily diet. Learn to curve your cravings and stop eating when full. Exercise is also a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Try to aim for three to five days a week with moderate exercise if need be. Be sure to get the heart rate up sometimes to burn calories and fat. While this is very basic and widely known, many people haven’t quite committed to them.

It can be hard, especially if you’re a working parent, but remember that feeding you and your family healthy foods is best. If you can’t find the time to cook, spend a Sunday meal prepping. Meal prepping is the perfect way to have a healthy meal without the hassle of time or effort! When hungry, all that needs to be done is heating the food in the microwave. Also, try to find to exercise, even if just ten minutes a day. There are many ways to exercise, like walking, biking, jump roping, and dancing. The best thing to do is experiment with different workouts and food to find what works best for you. Don’t make it miserable; enjoy a cheeseburger SOMETIMES!


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