10 Indicators That Eating Clean Is Working - dummies

10 Indicators That Eating Clean Is Working

By Jonathan Wright, Linda Larsen

When you embark on a new diet plan or lifestyle change, you want to see results. Of course you expect to feel better when you eat clean, whole foods. But what kind of specific results can you expect to see on the eating clean diet plan?

Weight loss

Weight loss is a goal for many people living in the United States. More than 60 percent of the population is overweight or obese, and people continue to gain weight. In the 1970s, only 15 percent of the adult population was obese. So what’s changed in that time frame? One of the most radical changes has been in the amount of processed foods Americans eat. Think about what your grandparents ate around the time of World War II. Vegetable gardens were big, family farms were prominent, and soda pop was a special treat. People consumed cakes and cookies only during special occasions. In contrast, junk food is the norm for many families today.

Eating whole, unprocessed foods, more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy oils and fats can help you lose weight without even trying. Consuming these nutrient-dense foods, which are satisfying as well as healthy, keeps you full longer and naturally reduces your overall caloric intake. And the best part is you don’t need to count calories!

Clearer skin

Clear skin is one benefit that may get teenagers to jump on the eating clean bandwagon. And because skin problems can persist into adulthood for many people, adults can appreciate this benefit, too. Eating clean provides you with the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals your skin needs to be smooth and healthy.

Some food allergies can also contribute to skin problems. By eating clean, avoiding foods you’re allergic to, and avoiding possible allergenic foods, including additives and preservatives, you can often alleviate or eliminate skin problems.

The nutrients to focus on for clear skin include essential fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.

You find these nutrients in fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, avocados, nuts, seeds, lean meats, and oily fish. Anti-inflammatory nutrients like carotenoids and quercetin, which are found in carrots and apples, may also help reduce skin problems.

More energy

Consuming the whole grains and complex carbohydrates on the eating clean plan can help give you more energy and make you stronger. The trick of combining carbohydrates with proteins and fat not only keeps you feeling satisfied longer but also keeps your blood sugar level stable for a longer period of time, which prevents those afternoon slumps.

All the nutrients in the clean foods on your new diet help increase energy. Vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals help your cells work more effectively, making your body more efficient overall. Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to digest, so they provide more fuel over a longer time period.

Healthier hair and fingernails

The trick to having healthy, good-looking hair is working from the inside out. While using special shampoos and conditioners can affect your hair’s exterior look and feel, eating a good diet of wholesome foods is one of the best ways to keep your hair looking its best.

Although your hair itself is dead (otherwise you’d be in a lot of pain during your haircuts!), your scalp is alive, and it’s actually the basis for healthy hair. Vitamins A, B, and C promote a healthy scalp and can make hair stronger. Iron keeps your hair follicles strong by providing them with oxygen, and zinc can help prevent hair loss. Although healthy hair isn’t really a health benefit, it is a sign that your overall health may be improving.

Did you know that many doctors now look at your fingernails for clues about your health? Some nail conditions can indicate chronic health conditions ranging from bronchitis to inflammatory bowel disease and even heart disease. An iron deficiency can cause raised ridges in your fingernails. People with lupus may have blood vessels that show through fingernails, and very pale nails can indicate anemia.

Eating a clean diet with whole foods can help treat or manage these conditions. Healthy nails indicate a healthy body.

Stronger muscles

If you want to strengthen your muscles, eat five or six small meals a day, and make sure you get plenty of the following:

  • Lean proteins
  • Combination of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds

Well, that’s the eating clean diet plan in a nutshell! All the nutrients in whole foods help build muscle, protect your cells against damage from aging and free radicals, keep your heart muscle (the most important muscle in your body) strong, and keep your veins and arteries strong and healthy so they can pump oxygen to your muscles.

Lower blood pressure

High blood pressure is troublesome for several reasons. It raises your risk of a heart attack or stroke, it can cause kidney damage and vision loss, and the excess pressure of blood can actually weaken and damage your arteries.

Because diet plays such a significant part in blood pressure, changing your diet can help you lower both the systolic (top) reading and the diastolic (bottom) reading on the blood pressure cuff. Maintaining a healthy weight and improving your overall health can also help lower blood pressure. The eating clean diet is a perfect way to do all three.

Increasing the nutrients you eat every day helps control blood pressure. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, which are important in blood pressure maintenance, are all found in whole foods. In addition, phytochemicals and vitamins can help reduce damage to your arteries by neutralizing free radical damage and preventing oxidation of cholesterol.

Many nutritionists advise people at risk for high blood pressure to lower their sodium intake. Because 70 percent of the sodium you consume is found in processed foods, reducing your consumption of those foods automatically reduces your salt intake.

A stronger immune system

A stronger immune system can be a direct result of a healthy diet. After all, phytochemicals like lycopene and quercetin, which you find in clean, whole foods, offer the following benefits:

  • Keep your immune system strong
  • Block carcinogens from damaging cells in your body
  • Reduce the inflammation that can cause diseases like cancer and heart disease
  • Slow the rate of cancer cell growth
  • Trigger apoptosis, which is the natural death of cells when they have lived their normal lifespan (Cancer cells don’t die as they should, which is why tumors form.)

A stronger immune system means that you will catch fewer colds, may be more resistant to flu viruses, and will recover from such illnesses more quickly when you do catch them. Fewer sick days are just one of the benefits of the clean eating lifestyle.

Lower cholesterol levels

Lower overall cholesterol numbers, higher HDL cholesterol readings, and lower LDL cholesterol numbers are the goal for many people. The eating clean diet plan helps you improve these numbers by focusing your meals around fruits, vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, and whole grains.

Your body sends cholesterol to help repair damage in your arteries and to soothe inflammation. So high cholesterol levels are really a sign that your body is under attack from free radicals and other causes of inflammation. Consuming the trans fats, simple carbohydrates, and refined sugars in processed foods can increase your cholesterol levels.

Eating foods with lots of phytochemicals, like resveratrol and lutein, and vitamins, like the B complex and vitamin D, can help reduce cholesterol levels and improve your HDL/LDL ratio. You find these nutrients in fruits and vegetables. Good fats, like fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, that have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, are also crucial to high HDL and low LDL cholesterol levels. So throw out the processed foods and turn to natural, wholesome foods for improved test results.

Clearer thinking

Have you ever binged on junk food and felt woozy and fuzzy afterward? Scientists report that junk food can actually hurt your brain’s synapses, which are the areas between neurons where chemical messengers communicate with one another. A poor diet can also slow down the production of molecules that improve memory and learning ability.

Nutrients important for clear thinking and good brain health include omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep synapses flexible and plastic and may help protect against brain disorders like depression and dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids are important components of neural membranes and help prevent decline in mental function as you grow older. Essential fatty acids are also important for brain health. Lean protein is essential to making more neurotransmitters that work in your brain’s synapses. Other important nutrients for brain health include magnesium, potassium, beta carotene, vitamins C, E, and the B complex, and folate, which helps prevent dementia.

A happy doctor

One of the most satisfying results of your new eating clean lifestyle is the positive response you’ll hear at your annual visit to the doctor. Imagine how surprised and delighted he or she will be when you show up with a healthier weight, a lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, better HDL readings, a stronger heart, and more energy. No need to dread your doctor’s visits now! You may even be able to educate your doctor about your new lifestyle and eating plan. Don’t be afraid to spread the word because this lifestyle is easy to follow, satisfying to live, and rewarding!