TGIF: Reasons to Get Healthy, Wrap Up

This is the final installment of the amazing article we have been covering for two weeks.

11. It’s the ultimate workout booster.

Just like exercise can help you eat better, eating better can help you crush it in the gym. Exercise, by definition, breaks you down. It’s tough on your muscles, bones, and cardiovascular system. It’s how your body heals all that damage that makes you stronger, and healthy foods support that growth and recovery process. Good carbohydrates boost your endurance, protein builds and maintains muscle, and vitamins and minerals keep everything working together as it should.

12. It chills you out.

People credit turkey’s tryptophan for a comfy food coma post-Thanksgiving (which isn’t strictly true: Blame the carb-overload for that). But tryptophan can help you chill out. Researchers found that men deprived of tryptophan experienced an immediate rise in anxiety, and some even had panic attacks. But once they were given tryptophan again, they calmed down like babies in a bubble bath. And no need to dig out your turkey baster—tryptophan is found in lots of healthy foods like dark chocolate, oats, dried fruit, seeds, eggs, fish, and dairy.

13. It delivers clearer skin.

Breakouts in high school are expected with the swing of teenage hormones. But, alas, adulthood doesn’t guarantee the end of the acne era. If you’re still struggling with red spots, look to your plate. Scientists say you may be able to eat your way to a clearer complexion. Sugary foods, dairy, and processed grains have all been linked to outbreaks of acne and rosacea. And new research showed removing those foods seems to clear the problem up. While the effects weren’t consistent through all subjects, the American Academy of Dermatology says it’s worth trying eliminating these things and seeing if it helps.

14. It amps up your sex drive.

While many foods (think wine, chocolate, and oysters) have been hailed as aphrodisiacs, in scientific study, the effects have been mostly chalked up to the placebo effect. But new data suggests we look in the spice aisle. Researchers found that eating healthy spices like saffron and ginger measurably improved sexual desire and performance in both genders. Stay away from the booze, though. While “liquid courage” could improve your flirting game, and researchers found that it did significantly improve desire, it also significantly decreased performance.

15. It prevents insomnia.

With about 50 percent of adults experiencing at least one bout of sleeplessness lasting longer than three weeks, insomnia is one of the major complaints people have about their health. Fortunately good nutrition can help you catch your zzz’s. One study found that adults who drank a tasty smoothie made from tart cherries got, on average, 90 more minutes of sleep a night. Other research has shown that magnesium, found in foods like dark chocolate and whole oats, helped people fall asleep faster with less incidents of nighttime waking. Finally, in a third study, people who ate fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir slept longer and had higher quality sleep.

16. It soothes sore muscles.

According to several studies, what you eat can greatly affect how quickly and how well your muscles recover after a workout. (Read: Eat right, and you’ll be able to sit like a normal person after bootcamp squats.) According to research, the biggest factor was getting enough protein, as that nutrient is responsible for building and repairing skeletal muscle, but blueberries also provided measurable relief.

17. It gives you energy.

The next time you’re feeling exhausted, skip the “energy” drinks and head for the blender. Not only can long-term caffeine abuse make you more exhausted in the long run by messing up your sleep, but it can exacerbate the effects of stress, making you mentally tired as well. Instead, whip up a shake with a balance of carbohydrates for quick energy and complex protein to increase performance and help with recovery. A study of athletes found that those who drank the protein shake showed a significant improvement in performance on an athletic test than did those who relied on straight carbs alone.

18. It reduces cravings for bad food.

File this under odd but true: Eating a salmon omelet could stave off cravings for Swedish Fish. Researchers found that starting the day with a protein-rich meal for breakfast helped reduce cravings for junk food later on in the day. Rather than feel deprived of their favorite treats, subjects reported, well, not thinking about treats much at all. The researchers think that eating a healthy, protein-packed breakfast increased levels of dopamine in the brain. Since 91 percent of us report having intense food cravings, according to a Tufts study, we’ll be seeing you at the breakfast bar.

19. It makes you a faster runner.

Tortoises looking to finally overtake the hares should look no further than their plate, according to researchers. In one study, runners who ate beets experienced a significant increase in their endurance and speed. But stick to whole beets rather than beet juices or extracts, as the effect was most pronounced from eating the food. Another study found that people who ate a Mediterranean style diet (heavy on fish, olive oil, and nuts, and light on gelato) increased their running endurance, upped their tolerance for exercise, and showed improvements in their cardiovascular health.

20. It will make you win at life.

In possibly the cutest study, Stanford researches had children face down delicious marshmallows in the ultimate battle of willpower. The results, chronicled in the book The Marshmallow Test, showed that tots who had strong enough willpower to resist the junk food ended up having higher SAT scores and great professional success as adults. But it doesn’t take a test to see there is a link between living your best life and treating your body well. Taking care of your health will not only give you all the benefits we’ve listed, and many more, but the confidence and self-knowledge in all aspects of your life—so bon appetit!

We did it! Now take these reasons and begin changing your current lifestyle. Sit back and watch how eating right and exercising regularly improves you and the world around you.



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