You are What you Eat!

Sunday, 15 December 2019  |  Admin

"You are what you eat" is a phrase we seem to hear quite often nowadays, but how relevant is it in the modern world with such a vast array of food choices readily available to us?

When you consider that most of us eat several times a day, every day of our lives, then it's clear that the types of food that we eat are going to play a major part in the health of our body. With the abundance of fast food outlets, restaurant franchises and supermarkets offering a huge variety of foods ranging from good and nutritious to bad and unhealthy, our daily food choices can affect the way we look and feel to a large degree.

The human body needs a regular supply of water and nutrients to survive and thrive. The foods we eat affect the health of our body down to a cellular level and provide the energy we need to go about our daily lives. A person that looks and feels good, has plenty of energy and is rarely ill, tends to live a more active and rewarding lifestyle than a person who may be eating a diet of 'junk' food and lacking the energy required to keep active.

It's not difficult to eat a healthy, balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and foods rich in vitamins and minerals. However with today's busy lifestyles and unhealthy food offerings, many people find it all to easy to eat take-aways, ready meals and highly processed foods that lack sufficient nutrients to provide their bodies with their daily requirements. If a lack of nutrients was not bad enough, many ready meals and take-away foods contain high levels of unhealthy fats, sugar and salt which can be further damaging to health.

So, if the phrase "you are what you eat" has any truth in it, then it would suggest that the foods we eat would have an effect on who we are as a person, how we look and feel, how we behave and how we present ourselves in our daily lives. Can our food affect these things?

Lets consider a person who is conscious about choosing a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables with a balanced amount of lean protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates. This person stays away from highly processed and junk foods and is careful to avoid foods high in sugar such as cakes and biscuits. Alcohol is limited to the occasional glass of wine as a treat.

A person eating this type of diet on a daily basis is likely, pending any underlying medical conditions, to be receiving adequate vitamins, minerals, fats and fibre for their body to thrive and their immune system to fight off disease.

On this diet, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are likely to be in good supply with additional stores reserved in the body until needed. Vitamin A will help this person develop a healthy immune system, aid healthy bone and teeth development and provide benefits to eye health. Blood sugar levels and blood calcium levels will be maintained with the aid of adequate vitamin D, thus providing further benefits for healthy bones. The anti-oxidant properties of vitamin E will provide many benefits including healthy skin, hair and nails, increased immunity, cardiovascular health and cognitive function. Vitamin K will help with blood clotting, healthy bones and heart health.

Water soluble B complex vitamins and vitamin C are stored in limited amounts in the body and any excess of these vitamins will pass through the body and be eliminated in urine. What you eat on a daily basis has a great bearing on the supply the body receives of it's daily requirements of water soluble vitamins.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, helping the body fight off infectious diseases like the common cold and also assists in forming collagen, a protein that provides strength and support to bones, teeth, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels. The vitamin B complex consisting of riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and cobalamin (B12) provide a wide range of health benefits to the body including the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins, protein metabolism, the production of DNA and normal red blood cells, normal functioning of the nervous system and production of the body's chemicals such as haemoglobin and insulin.

It is becoming clear that what you eat has a major effect on the health of your body. A healthy diet will provide the nutrients that your body needs to thrive, fight off illness and look good. Additionally, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables will provide dietary fibre which provides further benefits in relation to bowel health, lower cholesterol levels and stable blood sugar levels.

So, if "you are what you eat", what happens if you eat an unhealthy diet of take-aways, highly processed foods and foods high in unhealthy fats, sugar and salt?

Firstly, you are likely to put on weight, fast. Most take away foods such as pizza, Chinese foods, Indian foods and fish and chip shops are not in the business of providing healthy balanced diets, but foods that are cooked with unhealthy fats and high salt content. Whilst they may be tasty, they are not usually very healthy!

Eating foods such as these and highly processed ready meals, whilst avoiding fresh fruits and vegetables means your body is missing out on all the benefits listed in the healthy diet above. Furthermore, your body has to deal with a higher intake of calories than it may need and many people eating an unhealthy diet tend to be overweight or obese. It is a known fact that people who consume unhealthy 'junk food' diets also tend to eat too much food in comparison to those who choose a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, obesity seems to becoming 'normal' in modern Western society. Whilst there are always exceptions to the rule, an overweight person pushing a shopping trolley around a supermarket will likely have a trolley full of unhealthy food choices and a good supply of fizzy drinks! It is clear that what they are eating is affecting their appearance, energy levels and general health.

With the body not receiving the nutrients it needs to remain healthy over a period of time, serious health issues such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes can take hold. Diseases such as these are life changing and have a major impact on who you are as a person and how you go about your life. Further evidence that what you eat, and also what you don't eat, will shape you as a person.

Considering the above, it is clear that what you eat has a major impact on you as a person. A healthy diet is more likely to help you maintain your health, maintain a healthy weight, provide you with the energy you need and help improve your skin, hair and general appearance.

Conversely, a "junk food" diet could negatively impact your health, appearance and encourage obesity. A poor diet may also negatively affect your mood which can further exacerbate the problem in the form of emotional eating.

In conclusion, there are many factors that make us the person we are. The person who chooses a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet will generally be healthier, get ill less often and look and feel better in themselves than a person who chooses to eat unhealthy, high fat, highly processed and sugary foods.

With that in mind, I think we can safely conclude that the old saying is as relevant as ever as who "you are" is greatly influenced by "what you eat".