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The old adage that you are what you eat has never rung truer. What your mother has been telling you for years is now being echoed by scientists around the world. Not only can food improve your mood, but it can also improve your health, stamina, function and even life expectancy.
But if you are what you eat, what should you be eating for the healthiest lifestyle?
Your brain uses up a remarkable amount of energy and, as the control centre of your body, keeping it healthy should be top of your priority list. Luckily, there are all kinds of foods that could help. Fatty fish is usually the first food to be recommended and salmon, in particular, is ideal. You can get the freshest fish online and cook up all kinds of meals from fish pie to paella.
Broccoli, blueberries and green tea are also great for your brain, presumably as sources of antioxidants. If you are skeptical about the use of antioxidants then please be persuaded by the vitamin K in broccoli and blueberries and L-theanine in green tea which may prevent dementia (though more evidence is required).
You might not think about your bones too much but they support you constantly. Building healthy bones while you are still young is essential for your bone strength in your old age. As we age, we all experience some loss in bone density but, with the right diet, we can all maintain our bones and minimise the risk.
Calcium is one of the main building blocks for healthy bones and is best found in dairy products like milk and yogurt. Vegans need not worry, though, as you may also find calcium in fortified plant milks and some tofu products.
Even if you have no current plans to become a bodybuilder, you should be looking after your muscles. While exercise is certainly the best way to keep them flexible and lean, what you eat provides the best fuel. Indeed, herbs and spices may also be used to relieve pain if you over do it in the gym!
The key thing to remember with building muscle is that you need amino acids – the strings that make up proteins. You can get protein in all kinds of places from beans to beef, eggs to tofu so it should be easy to eat well. Once again, fish is really good for you.
Protein is having a moment right now with diets such as the paleo diet effectively putting it on a pedestal. However, it is important to remember that while protein is certainly beneficial, you should still be eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and have a good balance of carbs too. Protein alone just won’t do it.
What you eat makes a huge difference to how you feel and how your body develops. Doing your best to eat well every day is the best gift you can give yourself. And, you’ll be pleased to know, this still means you can eat dark chocolate!