How Does Healthy Eating Affect Physical, Mental & Social Health?

Healthy eating is one tenant of a well-balanced life. Healthy eating means getting enough of every important nutrient; choosing a variety of foods from every food group; and avoiding excessive fat, sugar, salt and alcohol. Your physical, mental and social health are connected to your diet and to one another. Improving one element can have a positive impact on the others. Working on your physical, mental and social health while you are improving your diet strengthens your efforts in every area, leading to an improved overall sense of well-being.

A mother and daughter prepare healthy food in the kitchen. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Physical Health

Healthy food provides your body's cells with the nutrients they need to perform their functions correctly. Without nutritional food, metabolic processes slow down dramatically, and your physical health declines. Healthy food also helps to protect the body against diseases, such as heart disease, type II diabetes and cancer.

Mental Health

A lack of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, calcium and iron, is correlated with symptoms of depression. New mothers may be particularly vulnerable to nutrition-related depression. Eating nutritious meals regularly gives you the energy you need to live and complete the daily tasks necessary for a happy, balanced life. Without enough energy, you may not be able to accomplish what you need to do, which can negatively impact your mental health.

Social Health

Eating healthy food can lead to weight loss, increased energy and improved mental health. Looking and feeling good positively impacts your self confidence. Higher self-esteem can make you more confident socially, strengthening your desire to forge new friendships and romantic connections. Additionally, eating well can be a social activity. Sitting down for healthy, home-cooked meals can strengthen family ties, providing a ritual for connecting with each other. Beyond that, improved physical health can make you less vulnerable to debilitating diseases that can impact your social opportunities.

Intellectual Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hunger negatively impacts children's academic performance. Skipping breakfast can lead to poor functioning at school. When you lack adequate nutrition, you may find it more difficult to focus on learning new information. You may feel restless or distracted or develop a headache, all of which can impair intellectual performance.

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