Exercise and a balanced diet have been a great part of my life for a very long time now, and during this time I have learned how important these things actually are and what role they play in the present and in our future. I have therefore decided to present my knowledge to you so that maybe you too will decide to change something in your life.
We hear the phrase “balanced diet” extremely often, but what does it actually mean? Shortly summarised, it is food intake that includes all of the dietary needs of the organism in the correct proportions. A balanced diet consists of 7 components, these are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, water, vitamins and minerals. Just to explain the 3 most important ones; carbohydrates are mostly used as fuel for the body; they give us energy. This can be for example bread, rice, potatoes, fruits and so on. Proteins are the
“building” blocks in our body and they are essential for growth and repair of body tissues for example. An example of protein-rich foods is meat. Fats are used in cell membranes and as parts to form steroid hormones. These 3 components should also make up every one of your meals like you see on the picture. Half of your plate should be vegetables, a quarter of your plate should be starches or carbs, and the other quarter should be meat or its alternatives, f.ex. fish.
When it comes to exercise, I’ve looked at guidelines from NHS, the National Health Service in England and they say an adult aged from 19 to 64 should try to be active daily. They give three choices:
- At least 150mins of moderate activity such as cycling or brisk walking + strength exercises which target all major muscles two or more days a week.
- 75mins of vigorous activity such as running or playing tennis + strength exercises two or more days a week.
- A mix of both which equal 150mins together + strength exercises two or more days a week.
So what happens once you change your diet to a better one?
Within 20 minutes, you start healing your gut – Dr Terry Wahls stated that the bacteria living in your bowels, on average, divide every 20 minutes. That means what you eat is either fertilizing the health-promoting bacteria or the disease-promoting bacteria, minute by minute. Within a few hours, you’ll experience healthier brain function. Due to the gut-brain connection, the food you eat dramatically impacts your brain within hours. More sugar tends to create more inflammation for example. Within 72 hours, your hormones start to stabilise. Dr Sara Gottfried states that within just 3 days of eating clean, your insulin and cortisol levels will normalise resulting in far more energy and your belly fat beginning to melt away. Within two weeks, your productivity will increase by 20% due to the increase in energy and decrease in “brain fog”. Within 6 weeks, your thyroid and estrogen will be back on track. This means that you’ll be able to keep your weight stable, you will have fewer mood swings, your hair will stop falling out etc.
The truth is, exercise is tiring, everyone knows that. But there is an endless amount of benefits of exercising often. These are also linked to what I previously talked about, the benefits of a clean diet. Just to name a few:
First of all, it boosts your happiness levels. Exercise has been proven to decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress as it makes changes in the parts of the brain that produce these feelings. In addition to this, exercise can increase the production of endorphins which are known to produce positive feelings. An obvious consequence of eating healthy and exercising is that it can help with weight loss. Regular exercise increases your metabolic rate, which will make you burn more calories throughout the day. In addition, exercise can reduce your risk of chronic disease. The primary cause of chronic disease is actually lack of regular physical activity, and lack of physical activity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and early death. Lastly, it can help your brain health and memory. During exercise, your heart rate increases and it promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. It also stimulates the production of hormones which enhance the growth of brain cells. Exercise has been shown to cause the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s vital for memory and learning, to grow in size.
To shortly summarise, exercise and a balanced diet play a huge role in our lives, both short term and long term. They also have very positive effects on our bodies not only physically and mentally, some of which I discussed in this presentation. Not only can you prevent many illnesses and problems in the future, but also be much fitter, happier and healthier on the inside. I hope you learned something new and that this inspired you to change yourself for the better.