It may well be a good thing to keep your physical body as fit as you can through exercise, but if you are not feeding it the right fuel, maintaining that level of fitness becomes problematic. A person's diet is just as important to their well being as physical exercise, so what you eat can very well make a big difference to how healthy your body actually is. There are some basic diet rules that can be followed by anyone that will make a huge difference to well being, especially if they are not currently being followed.
Making a change in diet is one of the biggest single factors in heralding an improvement in health for those who have been eating poor diets and suffering ill health as a consequence. The changes do not necessarily need to be of such a great scale to make a larger difference that one might believe. Here are some basic dietary changes that anyone can make:
Change of Diet
The first thing you need to do is to take a look at what you are currently eating and drinking and to make a note of it all on paper, whether you are looking to lose weight or improve your overall health. This puts it in hard, positive terms so that you can clearly see right there before you what it is that you may be doing wrong. Once you know where your diet is wrong, you can make the right changes to fix it.
High Glycemic (GI) Carbohydrates
These include white bread and pasta and the many foods that are derived from their basic ingredient, refined white flour. It also includes starchy foods such as rice and potatoes and the many processed foods that are made from them, along with all the sweet things that are off limits in weight loss diets such as chocolate, candy bars and the like. The reason these foods are not good for you is because they contain sugars that are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and produce a sugar "rush" which the body is forced to attempt to counteract by releasing the hormone insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin binds to the excess sugars and takes them out of the bloodstream to be stored primarily as visceral fat.
You can swap out some of these foods with their low glycemic carbohydrate based alternatives, such as whole wheat bread, brown pasta, brown rice and their derivatives. While this is not the best solution (as whole wheat flour still has a high percentage of high glycemic carbs), it is a better alternative if you really cannot do without bread or pasta! Some people find they can live quite happily without these bulking foods and this is the most desirable situation for the best health.
Other low GI carbohydrate rich foods include most fruits and vegetables which should make up the bulk of your staple carbohydrate intake on a daily basis.
The sweet things that we all love and crave thanks to the high instance of taste buds on our tongue geared up for such sensations are tougher to swap out of a diet, especially if you have become used to eating them on a daily basis, or as a "sweet" following a main meal. Milk chocolate is the main offender here, along with candy made directly from refined sugar (sucrose) or inverted sugar which creates all manner of sweet things from boiled sweets and bon bons to toffee, caramel and even fudge.
Alternative sweet tasting things that are actually healthy to eat are in short supply, not surprisingly! Honey is one alternative to refined sugar that while still being packed with calories is also packed with nutrients that refined sugar based foods lack. There are several artificial sweetening products available to take the place of sugar, but they all seem to come with health risks from cancer (in the case of Aspartame and Saccharin) or IBS, diarrhoea and other digestive related illnesses in the case of Sorbitol. These are best avoided if at all possible.
Again, the best alternatives to processed sweet foods are fresh fruits. These come with fruit sugars (fructose) and calories as well as high percentages of carbohydrate, but they are far healthier than processed sweet products because they also contain many naturally occurring nutrients.
What you drink can also have a massive effect (either positive or negative) on your overall level of health. Drinking lots of soda to quench your thirst during the day, with hot caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee can accumulate a negative effect on health, especially if the soda is the diet variety with artificial sweeteners (see above). It is far better to swap soda for plain water from a health aspect as this is the best way to hydrate your body and quench your thirst (even though you may not believe it). Instead of drinking tea or coffee, you can substitute herbal teas that contain many beneficial trace elements and nutrients as well as being caffeine free.
At the end of the day, there will always be temptations placed in your way to try and knock you off your healthy diet path and you may or may not succumb to them depending on your ability to resist coupled with your current state of mind. If you can replace as many processed foods as possible with fresh alternatives, you can come a long way to achieving a far greater level of overall health and well being. Drinking plenty of plain water or herbal teas in place of soda and caffeinated hot beverages also goes a long way to improving your digestive system's efficiency and help to maintain your body's correct level of hydration without absorbing a barrage of additives and unwanted chemicals.