Before we go any further…
What was the first thing you thought of when you read “successful” in the title of this post? There is no right or wrong answer because success is a subjective experience, meaning it’s entirely up to you to define for yourself. Success might mean a certain achievement in your professional career, or how you parent your children, or whether you’re able to strike a healthy work-life balance, or maybe it’s something else altogether. Regardless of what “successful” means to you, you already have a powerful tool to increase your own success: your diet.
At Baby2Body, we believe that every time you eat, you have an opportunity to positively influence future outcomes. There is a universal truth that drives this: we all function better if we are well-nourished. The food we eat is the fuel that powers everything in our lives: our movement, our thoughts, our energy, our emotions, our immunity, our fertility… everything. This is the principle behind our nutrition guide and recipe book, Nourish, written to help women enjoy food and love the way it makes them feel. The truth is, the food you eat should make you feel good and it should work in your favour, helping you achieve the things that are most important to you.
That’s why we’re sharing 5 science-backed ways you can use your diet to help you be (and feel) more successful, personally, parentally, and professionally. From cognitive functioning to physical wellbeing, and even creating a healthier generation of children, here are 5 ways your diet can boost your success:
1. Improve focus and cognitive performance
Our ability to concentrate on a task is a huge part of success, no matter the end goal.
Your brain requires energy to function properly and efficiently, and that energy is supplied primarily through glucose (the sugar that is broken down from carbohydrate consumption). But not all sugars are created equal. Research suggests that “low glycemic index foods seem to improve attention, memory, and functional capacity”. Low GI foods are complex carbohydrates such as bran, beans, lentils, green vegetables, and fruits.
It takes our bodies longer to break down these foods, leading to a slower release of glucose (aka less of a blood sugar spike). On the other hand, simple carbohydrates (ones that break down quickly and include processed grains and sugars), are linked to difficulty in concentration and attention. The takeaway is: carbs are not the enemy, but you’ll want to choose them wisely.
2. Foster memory and learning
Our ability to learn and retain information helps us adapt, adjust, and grow over time, eventually becoming better and better at what we do.
Research suggests that the fat intake in our diet can have an impact on how well we learn and remember things. High saturated fatty foods are the fats to avoid, as consumption of these produces an inflammatory response in the hippocampus that is believed to be linked to learning and memory vulnerabilities.
On the other hand, increased intake of unsaturated fatty acids (such as Omega-3’s found in nuts, fish, and seeds) has been shown time and again to improve cognitive functioning and memory.
3. Better stress management
Stress is a powerful experience that, at times, we can use to our advantage to achieve optimal performance.
But when stress becomes chronic, it overwhelms our systems and dampens our ability to do what we need to do. So many components of a healthy diet have been linked to better stress management (including the positive impact of fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and fatty fish), but another interesting component to look at is the role that fiber can play in stress management.
It all has to do with your gut, and something called the ‘gut-brain connection’. Your gut plays a significant role in balancing mood- and stress-regulating hormones and neurotransmitters that your brain responds to, including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Adequate fiber intake (both soluble and insoluble) is really important for the maintenance of gut health and is believed to play a key role in balancing these hormones and neurotransmitters, and improving stress levels overall.
4. Support long-term mobility and ageing
For so many of us, success includes leading a healthy, active, and long life — and mobility is a critical part of this.
For individuals over the age of 65 (and we hope we all get there) mobility disabilities are one of the major risk factors for mortality. And, no surprise, your diet plays a big role in your mobility!
A literature review looked at this topic and found a correlation between low-micronutrient diets (micronutrients being vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) and mobility disabilities. Epidemiological studies have therefore pointed to diets rich in fruits and vegetables to be critical in reducing the risk of mobility impairment.
5. Create a healthier generation of children (at least for your children)!
You probably know a healthy diet during pregnancy is important for the healthy development of your baby, however, what many of us don’t know is just how much a woman’s diet at this time can influence your baby’s gene expression and future health.
Although this field of research is still relatively new, there’s increasing evidence that a mother’s eating pattern before and during pregnancy (the maternal diet) may have an epigenetic impact on multiple aspects of a child’s future health. An epigenetic effect modifies gene expression, meaning it doesn’t change genetic makeup, but just how those genes are expressed. The implications of this are incredible though, as research suggests that poor material diets can increase a child’s risk of poor gut health, obesity, and cardiometabolic conditions later in life.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the role that diet plays in your overall health as well as trying over 60 delicious and nutritious recipes then check out Nourish- it’s available to purchase here and can be personalised with your name on the cover.
For more Juggle insight on supporting employees, take a look at this piece on helping staff with childcare.