A healthy diet is the foundation of well-being. Sometimes known as ‘natural medicine,’ food is the source of our body’s nutrients that in turn prepare it to function at peak performance. Not only does food propel us forward, but it also can be restorative. For veterans, in particular, our bodies have often been through extremely rigorous training and are used to being pushed to their limits. Anyone accustomed to pushing their limits, including veterans and athletes, needs fuel for recovery and growth. Read below to learn more about how a healthy veteran diet can unlock the benefits your body crucially needs.
Pillars of a Healthy Diet
When it comes to eating, knowledge is power, and knowing the target foods for a healthy diet is the first step to maintaining balanced nutrition. Integrating and maintaining healthier foods into your diet is key to establishing healthy nutrition.
Fruits: According to a study published by Harvard Medical School, people who eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables a day lowered their risk of death by 13%. That packs a lot of power into the two recommended daily servings of fruits. In particular, fruits such as blueberries have a plethora of antioxidants that help with an increased lifespan. Try to incorporate fruits into your daily meals, such as having apples with your lunch, or a banana for an on-the-go energy boost.
Vegetables: For your heart health, head straight to the vegetables. Not only are they linked to lowering the risk of heart disease, but can also provide antioxidants that promote immune health as well. Vegetables, in particular leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, are proven to promote heart health. This helps your body navigate added stressors and fight disease with a hearty immune response.
Starches: People can be hesitant around starches, but they are necessary for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Starchy foods provide energy and also promote a range of nutrients within our diet. Certain starches - such as bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes, are a great source of vitamin B, potassium, and fiber. These are integral for keeping your body functioning and tackling any challenges that come our way.
Lean Meats, Poultry, and Fish: Protein is powerful, and picking the right protein is imperative to a healthy, and well-balanced diet. Fish provide an excellent source of Omega-3 while being a low-fat, heart protein. Poultry such as chicken offers an alternative to red meat while providing the protein you need to grow and build muscle. Eating 3-4 one-ounce servings per day contributes to a robust immune response and builds healthy bone density, which forms a strong foundation for all that your body needs to do throughout the day.
Water: One of the most effective practices you can incorporate into your diet is simply that of hydration. Besides promoting things such as a robust immune response and regulating normal bodily functions, hydration helps with energy, focus, and stabilizing mood. For conquering the tasks of the day and allowing yourself to be successful, swapping a sugary substance for a glass of water can have positive effects on your physical and mental well-being.
What to Avoid in your Healthy Diet
Foods that give you a wealth of nutrients are going to be your best asset in pursuing a healthy diet. However, consuming the wrong foods will actively harm your body and do more damage than good. All foods should be consumed in moderation, but for a healthy diet you should reduce your intake of the foods mentioned below:
Added Sugars: Added Sugars are a major cause of obesity in the United States. For veterans, this can be difficult as lots of products proposing to be healthy and restorative have harmful amounts of added sugars. When finding foods to consume, it is important to be intentional about looking at nutritional facts to check for no added sugars. Even small changes such as swapping a soda for water can be a way to cut sugar from your diet and provide your body with the hydration it needs.
Fried Foods: Fried foods may taste great, but can be harmful to your body. Fried foods are high in calories, fat, and salt content. All of which contribute to an overall negative contribution to your health journey. Swapping fried for grilled or baked is an easy way to make a beneficial change to your diet.
Processed Foods: While convenient, processed foods fail to provide the nutrients food should give you within your diet. Along with being made of fake and often detrimental ingredients, processed foods are high in fat, sugar, and empty calories. When considering your healthy diet plan, it is important to plot a road map that gives you an abundance of healthy foods that will support your nutrition. If your food does not look like how it was in nature, consider trying a less modified source for your meals to keep you running your best.
Why It Matters
The bottom line is this: for veterans, mental and physical preparedness has been a necessity of daily life. Supporting the body and mind is crucial for taking care of duty, and a healthy balanced diet is one of the cornerstones for performing at the top. Healthy eating is a powerful tool for living full lives of service and continuing to perform despite the body’s wear and tear. Healthy eating is your first line of defense to illness, and to building and maintaining habits for a body and mind as strong as your journey.