We’ve all heard the phrase: you are what you eat.
Some may think that’s funny … but the thing is … It’s actually true.
The food you put into your body is what ends up fueling your body, and also becomes what your body is made up of.
The better that food is, the better your fuel, and the better you’ll be feeling. Eating less than healthy foods can be tasty, but they certainly won't help you look or feel good.
So are there real benefits to healthy eating? Of course there are! I'll cover all the benefits soon, but first you need to know the difference between unhealthy and healthy eating. That way, you’ll be confident you’re eating the right nutrients to earn the results you’re after.
Are There Benefits to Eating Healthy vs Not Healthy?
Well, the short answer is … Absolutely!
Like I said earlier, you are made of the food that you’ve eaten throughout your life. Not literally ... you won't become a slice of pizza if you only eat pizza. However, your body will function and feel as good as the nutrients you put in ... that's for sure.
When it comes to what foods are considered healthy vs not healthy though, it’s all very subjective. I don’t personally believe it’s right to throw food into broad categories like that. At the same time though, there are some aspects to nutrition that would make something more or less good for you.
Let’s jump into what makes certain foods “healthy” or “unhealthy.”
What Makes Food Healthy/Unhealthy
Like I said, calling a food healthy or unhealthy is subjective. Many people have different opinions on the best way to eat. Let's navigate these waters to the best of our ability based on science and research.
According to registered dietitian Dana Hunnes ... healthy foods are foods as close to nature as possible; foods that aren’t highly processed or adulterated .
I can agree here. The more natural the food is, for the most part, the better it will be for your body. She also mentions foods with less ingredients are better options to stick with.
There are a lot of foods out there that are heavily processed, and less ideal for us to eat. Now, this depends on what food we’re talking about, and also to what degree the level of processing is for that food.
…But what exactly does “processed food” mean?
Processed food is any food altered during preparation to make it more convenient to eat, increase the shelf life, or make it more flavorful . This can be on the minimal side like bagging up pre-peeled carrots, which is basically the same as they would be in nature for the most part.
But those are still technically processed too.
I’d argue the processing there doesn’t take away from the product’s nutritional value at all. Now if we look at something more heavily processed like snack cakes and cookies ... things change a little.
Heavily processed foods are often chemically altered with artificial ingredients and additives. On average, 57.5% of the American diet is heavily processed foods like this .
It's no wonder why our population seems to be growing less and less healthy every year.
An observational study in the British Medical Journal was done on almost 105,000 people looking at consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk. What they found was pretty shocking.
For every 10% increase in the intake of ultra processed food, there was a 12% increase in the risk of overall cancer . Most of the ultra-processed foods they were looking at were processed fats, sauces, sugary products, and sugary drinks.
Now, I wouldn’t just jump to conclusions thinking all processed foods cause cancer. In fact, processing food in general doesn’t make it bad or a cancer risk, but that is a little alarming to hear for sure.
Let’s dive a little deeper into why processed foods can cause issues in the body.
How Processed Foods Can Lead to Health Risks
It’s not as simple as “cause and effect” when looking at eating processed food and leading to health risks. As I mentioned earlier, processed food is a very broad term, and each one varies to a different degree.
There's a huge difference between issues directly correlated to eating processed food ... and issues that are indirectly correlated to eating processed food. For one, processed food is addicting, and usually leads to over-consuming food in general. It's the dosage that makes the poison.
Processed food isn't poison. It's the total amount you consume that can actually lead to detrimental effects on your health or not.
Many of the processed foods we eat are much higher in sugars, fats, and sodium than foods that are not processed. That can make for a very tasty and addicting treat.
This can also encourage you to eat more of it, and since it's not filling, it can cause you to overeat.
Think about how easy it is to finish a large bag of chips without getting full. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had an entire big bag of chips in one sitting, I could fill up my gas tank with the money!
The scary thing is, when that happens, I’m mindlessly snacking without realizing how much I’m eating. Then 1350 calories later, my hand hits the bottom of the bag and I’m still hungry.
When people don’t pay attention to how much they consume ... it's very easy to over-do it ... and therein lies the problem. When carbohydrates are processed and stripped of the fiber, nutrients, and complexities they normally have ... they typically digest faster, spike blood sugar higher, and can lead to health issues over time.
Think of it this way ... When you eat food, your digestive system breaks it down to extract and absorb the nutrients. If it’s a minimally processed carbohydrate source, then the body has to do quite a bit of work to break it down. This will cost you more calories, and has a lower glycemic response.
Or in other words, it doesn't spike blood sugar levels as high.
If the carb has been highly refined and processed, then our body isn't given much work to do. Processed carbs take less time to digest, spike blood sugar higher, and won't leave you full. They also won't provide your body the nutrients it needs to perform at its best.
According to Harvard School of Public Health, “An ultra-processed food that contains an unevenly high ratio of calories to nutrients may be considered unhealthy.” 
This is likely because it can lead to overeating calories, which over time can lead to weight gain. If not kept under control, this can lead to health risks like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Research shows that for every 20% overweight someone is, they double their risk of developing diabetes . For those who are 25% overweight or more, the number of fatal heart attacks is 5 times higher than normal .
So really, the big key here is to not overeat in general. Overeating can cause weight gain which can lead to these health risks. Eating a lot of heavily processed foods can lead you right down that path if you aren’t careful.
So it's not only about eating healthy foods, but it's also about keeping your calories in check! It just so happens that the more processed foods you eat, normally, the higher your calories will be.
Now that you know which foods are unhealthy, let's look at which foods you actually should add to your diet.
What Foods Are Healthy?
Now we get to talk about the good stuff! Eating healthy is a lot more simple than you may think.
Your diet doesn’t have to be only raw fruits and veggies, although they should be incorporated.  According to the CDC, a healthy diet emphasizes:
- Fruits and veggies
- Whole grains
- Low fat milk products
- Proteins from lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, and legumes
- Low in sugar, sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat
- Stays within your daily calorie needs
It sounds like what you’ve likely heard your entire life, but it’s true.
If you follow these rules, you'll be eating more foods that are good for you. These foods are high in the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to feel good and function at its best.
They also listed the quality protein sources we need to repair and build new tissues, while aiding our health in many other ways as well. Without enough quality protein, you can lose muscle mass, slow your metabolism, and cause fatigue.
Getting a lot of these foods in your diet can help you feel your best on a daily basis, but there are some other benefits as well. Let’s talk about some of them...
Benefits of Healthy Eating
There is a lot more to healthy eating than meets the eye. Let's dive into all of the benefits associated with healthy eating habits...
Eating Healthy Can Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes
Remember what I said about being overweight and how that impacts your risk of health issues? It’s the truth.
For one, obesity can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. However, by eating healthier foods, it's much harder to overeat and gain weight.
Keeping your weight in check and preventing chronic illness is a huge benefit of healthy eating.
Eating Healthy Can Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
One of the risks of being overweight is you can be more susceptible to certain types of cancer.
Healthy eating habits can help turn that around and keep you from increasing your risk.
Eating Healthy Can Boost Your Energy Levels
Afternoon energy dips got you down?
Your diet may be the culprit.
A diet high in sugar can actually trigger fatigue and depression in otherwise healthy, but obese adults.
Basically, eating too much of the wrong foods can make you tired.
However, eating the RIGHT food can help feel the opposite.
Eating Healthy Can Improve Your Gut Health
Your gut microbiome (AKA. the community of bacteria in your intestines) has a big effect on your body.
That’s why you’re probably always hearing about the importance of gut health.
Well, a diet that's high in fiber and fermented foods can help improve your gut microbiome. Doing this can help boost your mood, mental health, and immune system.
A happy gut helps with a happy life, so keep your gut happy and healthy by eating well.
Eating Healthy Can Support Your Bones and Teeth
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens your bones.
Can you guess the main cause?
It's a diet that’s low in calcium and magnesium.
Keeping a healthy diet with enough calcium and magnesium is crucial for your bones ... your teeth included. This is where dairy and leafy greens like spinach can help!
Eating Healthy Can Strengthen Your Hair, Skin, and Nails
Your skin faces two threats regularly: the sun, and aging.
Healthy eating can help with both threats.
Dark chocolate and avocados can reportedly help protect your skin against UV rays and the damage that might come from that.
Healthy foods like vegetables, fish, beans, and olive oil can help reduce wrinkling and the loss of elasticity in your skin that comes with aging.
Not only that, but a diet that's high in protein is also great for the health of your hair, skin, nails, and joints. The amino acids in protein serve as the building blocks for elastin, keratin, and collagen, three substances that make up your hair, skin, and nails.
So making sure you’re eating the right foods can do wonders for the overall health of your hair, skin and nails.
Eating Healthy Can Help With Weight Loss
Being a healthy weight is important to staying healthy long-term. Obviously, having a healthy diet can help with weight loss.
We already covered how a healthy diet can reduce the risk of overeating, which is a huge reason for weight gain along with inactivity.
So instead of eating too much, you’re eating the right caloric amount to keep your weight balanced. Just don’t forget to exercise as well!
What Supplements Can Help?
Eating healthy has so many great benefits, but how do you make it happen?
A key part of keeping a healthy diet is making sure you’re getting all the right nutrients, including:
- Complete protein at 1g per pound of goal body weight per day
- Omega 3 fats
That’s not an exhaustive list either, but it’s still really tough to get all of that in daily with whole food alone.
But that's where supplements come in.
Here at 1st Phorm, we’ve carefully formulated supplements that your body needs to help stay healthy and strong. On top of that, we also have supplements designed to help you perform and see the best results with your fitness.
If you aren't getting the nutrients you need through your diet alone ... that's when supplements can help. A daily nutrient pack like Micro Factor is a great place to start to get all the nutrients your body needs on a daily basis.
Micro Factor gives you a multivitamin, probiotic, essential fats, fruit & veggies, CoQ10, and antioxidants all in one serving!
If you need some help getting your nutrition dialed in ... reach out to us! We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Certified Nutrition Coaches who are happy to help. Just send us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com or give us a call at 1-800-409-9732, and we'll get you on track to see results - completely free of charge!
 Hatoum, Ryan, and Dana Hunnes. “What Exactly Does 'Healthy' Mean When It Comes to Food?” UCLA, UCLA, 21 Apr. 2017, https://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/what-exactly-does-healthy-mean-when-it-comes-to-food
 Fox, Nick. “The Many Health Risks of Processed Foods.” LHSFNA, 1 Feb. 2022, https://www.lhsfna.org/the-many-health-risks-of-processed-foods/
 Fiolet, Thibault, et al. “Consumption of Ultra-Processed Foods and Cancer Risk: Results from NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort.” The BMJ, British Medical Journal Publishing Group, 14 Feb. 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k322
 “Processed Foods and Health.” Edited by Harvard School of Public Health, The Nutrition Source, 29 Aug. 2022, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/processed-foods/#:~:text=Unprocessed%20foods%20include%20the%20natural,nutritional%20content%20of%20the%20food
 Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Diet and Health; Woteki CE, Thomas PR, editors. Eat for Life: The Food and Nutrition Board's Guide to Reducing Your Risk of Chronic Disease. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1992. Chapter 5, Calories, Energy Balance, And Chronic Diseases. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235013/
 “Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 June 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/index.htmlABOUT THE AUTHOR