Most people won’t argue with the fact that a well-balanced diet increases a person’s overall health. This is a generally accepted sentiment, and in fact, most people would even agree that a healthy diet can help you: lose unwanted fat or maintain a healthy weight, have more energy, and be more self confident.
The shift in agreement, however, occurs when we begin to discuss money.
What you eat, many people will argue, has nothing to do with how much money you make or save in a lifetime. The common sentiment is that the two are completely isolated.
Naturally, however, we know this impression to be false.
Your eating habits — what you eat, how much you eat, how often you eat, and when you eat — are objectively correlated to how much money you are able to save and earn. What is more, this correlation between eating habits and earnings becomes even stronger as you age.
The High Cost of Getting Sick
Overwhelmingly, the biggest way that eating healthy will save you money in the long run is by helping you avoid the healthcare costs associated with disease and illness. As soon as you are diagnosed with a serious disease, for example, you’ll have the following expenses to contend with:
- Doctor and specialist visit fees
- Hospitalization charges
- Prescription costs
- Surgery costs
- Lost wages or salary from absenteeism
Sounds like a lot of money, doesn’t it? Well it, is. But there’s good news.
As stated, these high healthcare costs can be prevented by doing all you can to avoid illness and disease in the first place. Now, this can be in part done by not smoking, exercising regularly, and getting a yearly physical.
But the most valuable thing you can do is to eat a moderate, well-balanced diet. In fact, according to the Iranian Journal of Public Health, “Diet is the greatest factor in lifestyle and has a direct and positive relation with health. Poor diet and its consequences … is the common health problem in urban societies.”
Specific Ways Your Diet Prevents Disease and Illness
A well-balanced diet helps you maintain a healthy weight.
Overweight and obesity are the most universal issues associated with disease and illness. In fact, your chances of developing severe chronic diseases like type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease (the number one killer of adult women) increase drastically if you are overweight or obese.
Naturally, there are many diets that can help you lose weight if you need to. However, experts consistently recommend one that limits your calories while still providing you with a well-balanced assortment of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Abundant nutrients and natural foods can reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is a natural process of the body. It occurs when your immune system attacks any “foreign bodies” inside you. When the foreign threat is truly a threat, this inflammation is a great thing, and it protects you. If the process occurs when you’re body is not facing a dire problem, however, inflammation can be detrimental to your health. This is called chronic inflammation, and it is associated with numerous diseases, like cancer, depression, diabetes, and arthritis. Fortunately, many whole, healthy foods fight inflammation and can assist in keeping these terrible diseases at bay.
Certain healthy diets may help prevent cancer.
Naturally, cancer is one of the most deadly diseases on the planet, and it comes in numerous forms. Certainly, there is no one-shot cure-all for cancer. However, many sources point to the fact that a healthy, whole food diet may help prevent cancer and help it stay in remission.
In fact, the macrobiotic diet specifically may help prevent cancer. This diet is based in part in Zen Buddhism and focuses on eating organic, all natural foods. It “emphasizes a high complex carbohydrate, low fat diet,” and foods are meant to be minimally processed and organically grown. Several studies have proven a correlation between this diet and a reduced risk for cancer.
How you feel mentally and emotionallyaffects your physical health.
Finally, keep in mind that when you eat better, you generally feel better. Your body does not have to filter out excess sugar, alcohol, or other toxins, and the adequate nutrients and fiber you’re taking in will help it regulate digestion. All of this helps to streamline your mental function, improve your energy levels, and improve your self-esteem. Professionals still do not understand all of the ways in which your body and mind influence each other, but there is no doubt that numerous direct correlations exist.
Concrete Steps to Improve the Way You Eat
1. Cut out sugar.
Sugars can be found in all sorts of food, from fruits and grains to milk and yogurt. And to an extent, you need some sugar to stay alive. We’re talking about glucose and fructose, however — naturally occurring sugars.
Table sugar or “added sugar,” on the other hand, has absolutely no nutritional benefit and should be avoided as much as possible. Not only will added sugar make you overweight or obese, it is also associated with heart disease, type II diabetes, and metabolic dysfunction. The American Heart Association recommends that you get no more than 100 calories of your daily caloric allowance from sugar if you’re a woman and no more than 150 calories of your daily allowance from sugar if you’re a man.
2. Avoid processed foods, and put the focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats.
In addition to not including added sugar in your diet, a healthy diet also does not include processed foods. Fried foods like onion rings and French fries are full of trans fats and processed vegetable oils, most of which are associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Processed foods are also low in fiber and nutrients, laden with excess refined carbohydrates, and full of artificial ingredients. That’s not to mention that some of these foods may even be addictive.
Instead of indulging in fried, boxed, and fast foods, eat whole foods: fruits, veggies, lean meats like chicken and fish, and whole grains.
3. Monitor your weight, and make adjustments to reduce your caloric intake when necessary.
Lastly, keep track of your weight and your BMI (body mass index). You can use this calculator from WebMD to check your BMI and healthy weight range. A healthy BMI is one between 18.5 and 24.9. Those who are overweight have a BMI between 25 and 29.9, and those who are obese have a BMI higher than 30.
You’ll see many resources claiming that a scale is unnecessary for keeping track of your health, and that weighing yourself on a regular basis is unhealthy. For some, especially those with a history of eating disorders, this may be true. However, as long as you maintain a healthy self image and do not equate your weight with your self worth, weighing yourself on your bathroom scale once or twice a week is still the best and easiest way to make sure that you are maintaining a healthy weight.
Save Your Health, Save Your Money
It’s often difficult to see the impact that one small choice can have on the rest of your life. What’s a few donuts, after all? What’s one cheat meal? What harm could a few days of “vacation eating” do?
Well, these are tough calls. The bottom line is, however, that these seemingly innocent choices do add up. Or, if you prefer, they do eventually turn into habits for most people. And these habits quickly become routines. And that is what has a lasting impact on your health.
Some individuals are stirred to eat a well-balanced diet because they don’t want to be overweight and not fit in their favorite jeans. Others are motivated because they like feeling energetic and strong every morning. Some don’t want to lose their ability to walk or be self-sufficient.
Whatever your reasoning to consume a healthy diet, here’s one more to add to the pile: eating an unhealthy diet is directly related to your susceptibility to illness and disease, and being ill costs a bundle. So do what you can to improve your eating habits. Your body, mind, and pocketbook will thank you for it.