Eat your vegetables—they’re good for you!
It’s that dreaded command that virtually every kid hears at some point during their childhood. And it’s usually followed by a much beleaguered: But why?
Kids have to settle for the inevitable “Because I told you so” from their parents. But as adults, we want a better answer.
So why is some food better for your health than others?
To get to the answer, think about why we eat food. We eat because we’re hungry, bored, tired or just to be social. Lots of reasons. But from a purely biological standpoint, we eat to fuel our bodies. And just like fuel for your car, the quality of food you choose to eat has a big impact on how well your body runs, or functions.
Think about how you feel after you eat a big plate of french fries that’s doused in salt and ketchup. Tastes delicious, right? But does it leave you feeling sluggish or energized? Chances are, you probably feel kind of tired and bloated. Compare that to eating an orange or a fresh peach. Or any kind of fresh fruit or vegetable that you like. You probably feel pretty good after you finish eating it—like you got a little energy boost and you’re ready for whatever’s next in your day.
They’re both food after all. The fact is that food can tell your body how to function well—or not. Foods that are naturally rich in nutrients give your cells the specific instructions and materials they need to perform various functions that keep your systems and metabolic processes running smoothly.
By contrast, foods with little to no nutritional value tend to “gum up the works” by giving your body incomplete instructions and poor-quality material to work with. Some of these foods also contain chemically altered ingredients that can actually give your body the wrong instructions altogether. All of these issues can contribute to a variety of health problems that range from obesity to heart disease, diabetes and chronic inflammation.
So which foods are good for you?
Choosing foods that are nutrient-rich is a good way to keep your body in balance and functioning properly. But making sure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients is also important. There is a lot of information and guidelines out there to help you stay on track, but the more you know and understand about your own specific nutritional needs, the better your food choices will become.
And as you now know, better food choices lead to better nutrition, which leads to better health.
So go ahead, eat your vegetables. And make them part of a well-balanced meal that includes plenty of good nutrients which help your body function well—and thrive. And that’s really is good for you!