You know the old saying “you are what you eat”.

That’s amazing because it’s true. We have a small hobby farm here with dogs, cats, alpacas and horses and I have to admit I am in awe of how nutrition in living things works.

I could give you a 50 pound bag of the finest dog kibble and an unlimited supply of water and tell you that you have all the ingredients necessary to build a living, breathing dog. How long do you think it would take you?

How is it possible that those little kernels of ground up chicken and corn can be broken down and rebuilt in the form of a live dog? And the same amazing thing happens with my horses and alpacas, and all they eat is grass and hay!

But we’re not here to talk about my pets, we’re here to discuss why you should know how to eat healthy.

Let's use our imaginations for a minute. First, picture an Olympic swimmer. Then picture a real life version of Homer Simpson (we all know SOMEBODY with a similar physique). Which guy do you think will live longer? Which guy has more energy? Which guy is chosen first for a team? Which is chosen last? Who is happy after their annual medical physical? Who leaves the doctor’s office making excuses? Who is intimidated by a flight of stairs? Which guy “gets the girl”? Which guy is more likely to be promoted at the office? Which guy has daily aches and pains? Which guy is full of vitality? Which guy is proud enough to show you his face? Which guy would rather not be identified?

The food these guys eat is critical to the condition they find themselves in. Exercise certainly plays a role too, but as I’ll explain deeper into my articles, exercise is of little benefit if the nutrition isn’t there.

Proper nutrition can play multiple roles in person’s life:

- Early Death: Unhealthy eating and inactivity contribute to 310,000 to 580,000 deaths each year according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

- Decreased Quality of Life: poorly managed diabetes is a leading cause of blindness and amputation. Hip fractures are caused by osteoporosis.

- Increased Risk of Disease: Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, stroke and obesity are all associated with poor eating habits and nutrition

- The Expense: It is estimated that healthier diets could prevent over $200 billion per year in the USA in medical costs, lost productivity and lost lives.

- Fighting Infection: scientists have learned an amino acid, arginine, is responsible for letting the body know if it is being attacked by infection. Arginine is most commonly found in seeds, sea food, and soy protein

- Improved Lifestyle: If I want to go for a hike in the woods, I don’t want to worry about whether there might be a hill I can’t climb up. If I want to play with some children or some pets, I want to have the energy to do that. If I want to go out dancing, I don’t want to find myself wheezing out there on the dance floor.

- More Energy: Food is fuel. It’s what powers all the functions in your body. Just think about any machine and how it runs depends on the quality of the fuel you put in.

- Improved Fitness and Competition: I have been a casual runner/racer my entire life. I’ve always been solidly entrenched in the middle of the pack. This past spring I learned how to eat healthy, and after implementing those changes I dropped 6 minutes off my personal best 10k race time.

- More Desire to Exercise: When I was overweight I really needed to exercise more. But I didn’t like exercising because it was hard! But once I learned how to eat healthy and lost some weight, suddenly running and biking were much more fun. I run with a large trail group. In past years I’ve always been bunched up in the middle, but after losing the weight I’m now able to keep up with the leaders. Running in the lead pack is just so much fun that I actually look forward to these workouts now.

The list for why you should know how to eat healthy can go on and on. I’m sure you have reasons of your own and that is why you’re here now.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Caldwell is a retired firefighter and advanced care flight paramedic with a Bachelor's Degree in Biology and a Master's Degree in Management. Mike is the author of V.E.A.R. Toward Success, a motivational/inspirational book that using real life examples explains how to apply your Vision, Energy, Attitude and Resolve to achieve any of your goals. In 2012, Mike decided to get serious about his Ironman triathlon racing, but given his resistance to long hours of physical training, Mike turned to nutrition to facilitate his race improvement. Within 2 months both Mike and his wife Monique lost over 30 pounds of fat each. Mike has gone on to improve all his race time personal bests by an average of 20%!