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How My Diet Impacts My Health

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Ask the Expert

Did you know that the foods we choose impact everything from our immune system to our mental well-being? Our registered dietitian explains why we truly are what we eat.

QDoes what we eat impact our overall health?

A: Absolutely. Eating too many processed, high-sugar foods can lead to an imbalance of our gut microbiota and feed bad bacteria. On the flip side, certain fruits and vegetables act as a prebiotic and feed good bacteria. Our diets also have a direct impact on our digestive systems. Cruciferous vegetables are very beneficial to colon health, while processed meats like hot dogs are in our “doghouse.”

QHow does what we eat affect how we feel?

A: Feeling occasional discomfort after eating can happen when your diet is not in balance. It’s important to pay attention to portion sizes and to have the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat to keep digestion steady. What we eat goes beyond how we feel physically, though. Our gut health even influences healthy serotonin, and cortisol levels, which can impact mental well-being.

QAside from diet, what lifestyle choices can we make that will benefit our digestive health?

A: Exercise can support motility in the intestines. It’s also important to get enough sleep and avoid stress; being well-rested and relaxed will control cortisol levels and those cravings for high-sugar foods, which impact our microbiome health and blood sugar levels.

Holli Ryan

RD, LD/N

A member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Holli Ryan is a registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist who joined the Life Extension team in 2014. She enjoys travel, photography, and spending time with her husband and their Doberman, Bane.