Fit Food: The Benefits Of Eating Clean

Although most people are spurred to eat clean by a desire to lose weight (and for good reason, because it works!) there are many other reasons to cut the crap from your diet and eat real food.

1      Better functioning digestive system 1

Your digestive system is responsible for breaking down the food you eat to allow your body to utilize the nutrients. High quality whole foods are easily digested and their nutrients are readily available, absorbed and used by our bodies. On the other hand, junk foods, large meals, and irregular eating patterns are hard on the digestive system.  If you eat this way not only will you not be looking and feeling your best, but your body is literally being starved of the nutrition it need because the digestive system can’t do it’s job.

2      Healthier immune system 2, 3

If your body does not get the adequate nutrition it needs your immune system will not be working at full capacity.  Do you feel that you get sick often? Make sure that you keeping your defenses shored up by eating clean!

3      Better performance in the gym 4, 5

It makes perfect sense that the more high quality fuel you put in your machine (your body) the greater performance it will give you. Clean food enables you to get the most out of your workouts which in turn lets you get faster, stronger, and leaner more quickly!

4      Better performance in bed (work hard, play hard!) 6, 70629-couple-bed-rose-petals_li

Even without stating the obvious implications of how eating clean can help your sex life (more energy and a sexier body anyone?) research has shown that calorie restriction (and lack of nutrients) can impair sex drive and obesity decreases sperm motility. Plus it counts as cardio, right?

5      More energy and better mood 8

In addition to types of food, clean eating also focuses on eating regularly to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes. This means you never let yourself get hungry and are able to avoid energy crashes. In turn, this will result in a happier you!

6      Better sleep 9,10

Does this sound familiar? You are so busy at work that you don’t eat your afternoon snack and by the time you get home from work you are starving. You don’t want to cook so you grab some takeout and eat too much because you’ve let yourself get too hungry and have no control. Then you top it off with some wine or beer to “unwind” from your stressful day. And when you try to sleep you toss and turn and wake feeling exhausted. Heavy foods are not easily digested and if your body is working to try to digest your takeout you are not going to be able to sleep well. In addition to this, alcohol is empty calories and even though it may help you feel sleepy at first it will disrupt your sleep later on in the night. Stick to clean meals and try to stop eating 2 or 3 hours before bed to allow your body adequate time to digest your meal so you can sleep when you hit the pillow! In return, a better night’s sleep will leave you feeling more rested the next day and better able to make good food choices.

7      Greater mental focus

Intake of saturated fats and simple carbohydrates (like sugar and white flour) have been linked to decreased mental function. On the other hand, a healthy, clean diet will keep your body and brain in shape!

8      Clearer, healthier looking skin 12

Healthy skin starts on the inside. High carbohydrate, high sugar, and high Glycemic Index foods have all been linked to increased acne. The good news is that decreasing your intake of high Glycemic Index foods has also been linked to reduced acne!

The research continues to show that clean eating has a wide variety of health benefits, inside and out.  So on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, don’t just focus on the scale!

1. Satya S. Jonnalagadda, Lisa Harnack, Rui Hai Liu, Nicola McKeown, Chris Seal, Simin Liu, George C. Fahey. Putting the Whole Grain Puzzle Together: Health Benefits Associated with Whole Grains – Summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium. J Nutr. 2011 May; 141(5): 1011S-1022S.  Published online 2011 March 30 [PubMed]

2. Fox CJ, Hammerman PS, Thompson CB. Fuel feeds function: energy metabolism and the T-cell response. Nat Rev Immunol. 2005;5:844–852. [PubMed]

3. Michalek RD, Rathmell JC. The metabolic life and times of a T-cell. Immunol Rev. 2010;236:190–202. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

4.Siu PM, Wong SH. Use of the glycemic index: effects on feeding patterns and exercise performance. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2004;23:1–6. doi: 10.2114/jpa.23.1.[PubMed] [Cross Ref]

5. Wee SL, Williams C, Gray S, Horabin J. Influence of high and low glycemic index meals on endurance running capacity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999;31:393–399. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199903000-00007. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

6. Candice M. Klingerman, Anand Patel, Valerie L. Hedges, Robert L. Meisel, Jill E. Schneider. Food restriction dissociates sexual motivation, sexual performance, and the rewarding consequences of copulation in female Syrian hamster.

Behav Brain Res. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 October 1.

Published in final edited form as: Behav Brain Res. 2011 October 1; 223(2): 356–370. Published online 2011 May 10. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.05.003 [PubMed]

7. Carla DB Fernandez, Fernanda F Bellentani, Glaura SA Fernandes, Juliana E Perobelli, Ana Paula A Favareto, André F Nascimento, Antonio C Cicogna, Wilma DG Kempinas. Diet-induced obesity in rats leads to a decrease in sperm motility.

Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2011; 9: 32. Published online 2011 March 11. doi: 10.1186/1477-7827-9-32 [PubMed]

8. Barbara Stewart-Knox, Maresa E Duffy, Brendan Bunting, Heather Parr, Maria Daniel Vas de Almeida, Mike Gibney. Associations between obesity (BMI and waist circumference) and socio-demographic factors, physical activity, dietary habits, life events, resilience, mood, perceived stress and hopelessness in healthy older Europeans.

BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 424. Published online 2012 June 11 [PubMed]

9. Cibele Aparecida Crispim, Ioná Zalcman Zimberg, Bruno Gomes dos Reis, Rafael Marques Diniz, Sérgio Tufik, Marco Túlio de Mello. Relationship between Food Intake and Sleep Pattern in Healthy Individuals. J Clin Sleep Med. 2011 December 15 [PubMed]

10. Eliza Van Reen, Leila Tarokh, Tracy L. Rupp, Ron Seifer, Mary A. Carskadon. Does Timing of Alcohol Administration Affect Sleep? Sleep. 2011 February 1; 34(2): 195–205. [PubMed]

11. Scott E. Kanoski, Terry L. Davidson. Western Diet Consumption and Cognitive Impairment: Links to Hippocampal Dysfunction and Obesity. Physiol Behav. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 April 18. Published in final edited form as: Physiol Behav. 2011 April 18; 103(1): 59–68. Published online 2010 December 16. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.12.003 [PubMed]

12.Rebecca C. Reynolds, Stephen Lee, James Y. J. Choi, Fiona S. Atkinson, Karola S. Stockmann, Peter Petocz, Jennie C. Brand-Miller. Effect of the Glycemic Index of Carbohydrates on Acne vulgaris.  Nutrients. 2010 October; 2(10): 1060–1072. Published online 2010 October 18. doi: 10.3390/nu2101060 [PubMed]

Happy Lifting!

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7 comments for “Fit Food: The Benefits Of Eating Clean

  1. January 27, 2013 at 2:52 am

    Great article and all excellent WHYS…I would add natural healing. It is shocking what clean eating can and will heal. I am a iving, breathing, 16 year example fo this reality. Clean eating cured my of cancer after 5 years of chemo and radiation that did not!

    • January 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      I absolutely agree Carl! Unfortunately there is not enough funding of research done for this. The Big Pharma companies don’t get paid if people don’t buy drugs.

  2. Chris
    January 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I’ve read a few of your posts and am learning a lot. I’m looking forward to more, so I hope you keep writing here.

    • January 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks Chris! I’m glad you are enjoying the articles as I am enjoying writing them!

  3. January 26, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Getting a better sleep as a result of eating clean isn’t something that we would usually consider, but a good sleep allows for the rest of life to be that much better. Great reasons to adopt a clean eating lifestyle Dara!

    • January 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      I would say that better sleep is one of the most important benefits. Getting enough sleep can really be a game changer!

      • January 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm

        Game changer – well said! Thanks for all the great info!

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