Welcome to the Food and Nutrition Journey section of afro.girl.lovely!
Food is very important to me (lol). Not just because there’s nothing like sitting down and enjoying a comforting meal in front of the TV or computer after a long day…but because I also believe that eating well is essential to our health and well-being. As someone who majored in nutrition in college, I know for a fact that what we eat affects our energy physically, mentally, and even emotionally. Our ability to be active, our ability to prevent sickness, our ability to digest, our ability to get rid of waste, our ability to concentrate, our ability to remember or memorize, our mood, and our emotions are all powered by food more than we think. You definitely feel a difference when you made an effort to eat balanced, nutrient-dense foods in a day vs when your day’s diet consisted of a Wendy’s 4 for $4 or a two piece, fries, and a grape soda. Not that those things are necessarily bad…but eating them consistently is…bad. We can all do a better job when it comes to treating our bodies better by being conscious of what we eat. When our eating habits include eating all food groups, introducing ourselves to nutrient-dense foods, eating our comfort foods in moderation, and finding out healthier alternatives to our favorites, we can feel more energy, better moods, lose weight (if that’s your goal), and improve our chances of living a longer life with less health problems.
Food also affects our appearance. It can drastically improve the health of our skin and hair, which is another reason why I find that improving our nutrition is essential. You might be losing more hair, or retaining more length, partly because of the foods you’re eating. And we all know that eating foods high in “bad” (trans and saturated) fats/ oils and high in sugars can increase the chance of breakouts on skin vs how foods high in vitamins, minerals, “good” (unsaturated) fats/oils, and antioxidants can prevent breakouts.
So to start off, here’s 5 ways eating berries (one of my favorite types of fruit) can improve your hair, skin, and health through their rich amount of antioxidants and vitamins:
(Photo owned by www.theembiggensproject.com)
- Anti-Aging Benefits
- Blueberries, strawberries, acai berries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and cherries are all rich in powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants fight the effects of aging and protect the body from free radicals by reducing cell damage. Eating foods high in antioxidants can prevent cancer, heart disease, arthritis, muscle weakness, brain cell damage (concentration and memory loss), and improve skin health.
2. High In Fiber
- Blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries have a high amount of insoluble fiber, which is the type of fiber that helps eliminate waste. This aids digestive health and can solve constipation. Fiber also helps you feel fuller and stops you from overeating, which is great for people trying to lose weight. It also helps to control blood sugar levels and cholesterol since fiber limits how much sugar and cholesterol are absorbed into the bloodstream. Also, some studies have found that eating more food rich in fiber can decrease the chances of a heart attack by 40%.
3. Sweet But Not Sugary
- Raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries are some of the fruits that are lowest in sugar. Blueberries and strawberries are considered low to medium in sugar. The less sugar that’s in a fruit, the more nutrient-dense it is since the nutrients outweigh the calorie intake. This is why the antioxidants and many vitamins contained in berries are considered so potent. You’re getting more nutrients in exchange for less sugar and calories. This is also great news for the people who have a sweet tooth but want to lose weight.
4. Vitamin C For Hair, Skin, & Nails
- Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are high in vitamin C, which helps build collagen, the protein that acts as the “glue” that holds bones, muscles, and skin together. Collagen is important for growth in general, and it is essential for healthy hair, skin, and nail growth. Vitamin C aids in how we absorb iron, which helps strengthen hair and prevent hair loss. It makes skin more supple from helping collagen form, which aids in repairing acne, scars, and blemishes. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which as discussed above, prevents the effects of aging including aging of skin. Nails benefit from collagen formation also since it strengthens the skin, bone, and tissue around the cuticle.
5. Fight UTIs
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are a common thing that happens, especially to women. Although you probably need to take an antibiotic if/when it happens, cranberries and blueberries can possibly help since they both contain “anti-adherents”, or substances that prevent the bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder and the urinary tract.