5 Surprising health benefits of eating well

Use food to improve your physical well-being this year.
Default alt text; Replace me

If you want to make it to lunch without crashing, you make sure to eat breakfast. Heading into a long afternoon meeting? Take a snack.

But did you know that besides keeping you full, food also affects your energy levels, sleep quality, stress, and chronic pain management? Whether you’re looking to stay energized throughout the day or build muscle, find out which foods to eat.

Goal: to maintain energy

Do you suffer from the afternoon slump? Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee to get you over the hump, eat energy-producing, B vitamin-rich proteins like eggs, beef (in moderation), and salmon, in addition to plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

It’s also important to get enough magnesium, which regulates energy release and helps with calcium absorption for stronger bones. Focus on leafy greens, avocado, whole grains, and, come snack time or dessert, a square of dark chocolate.

Goal: to manage chronic pain

For many people, chronic inflammation is behind their chronic pain. The good news is that by eating certain foods and limiting others, you can ease the inflammation and the pain. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and choose whole grains like barley and quinoa instead of simple carbohydrates such as baked goods, sugary sodas, and fruit juice concentrates.

Goal: to build muscle mass

Are you strength training but not seeing results? Could be that you need to up your protein intake. Protein aids in building muscle, which helps reduce body fat, keeps bones strong, and increases metabolism . Adults should aim to get 10 to 35 percent of their total calories from protein-rich sources like lean meats, legumes, and oats, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics . Some protein-rich foods, like salmon, also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower blood pressure. Round out your diet with complex carbohydrates and heart-healthy fats, which help deliver energy to muscles.

Goal: improved sleep

If you’re waking in the middle of the night, you want to avoid foods that make sleep difficult. High-acid foods like chocolate, citrus, or fried foods can cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn if eaten excessively or shortly before bedtime. Your eating habits may also be keeping you up. Avoid big, high-fat meals and coffee late in the day, and alcohol right before bedtime.

It’s important to remember that food can keep you satiated, but also affect your well-being, from sleep and stress to energy levels and chronic pain management. To feel your best, make sure you’re eating the right foods to help you reach your healthy goals.