As many people start the new year looking to kickstart healthier eating habits, we take a closer look at how these changes affect the body, even very early on.

Improving your diet can help to reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as improving your overall wellbeing.

One way this can be done is by controlling your blood glucose level. Choosing food with a low glycaemic index can help to maintaining a steady blood sugar level, which helps to sustain the body’s energy.

Consuming carbohydrates raises the body’s blood sugar levels but how much it increases is determined by a food’s glycaemic index – the effect of a food on blood sugar levels.

The body quickly breaks down food with a high glycaemic index, such as soft drinks, sweets and white bread, which leads to spikes in blood sugar and then sharp drops. These fluctuations have been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Lower blood sugar which follows a spike can also hamper concentration levels and the ability to learn.

Reducing coffee intake can also have an effect on the body by lowering levels of cortisol, the ‘stress’ hormone. Someone with high levels of cortisol may find it harder to manage pressure, and it may also impact negatively on their immune system.

It is also noteworthy how the body responds to severe calorie restriction. This approach actually hinders weight loss because it prohibits the body’s effective burning of fat.

The body acts as if it is being starved and so protects fat stores, taking energy from muscle instead. This lowers the metabolism which slows down weight loss.

People with more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate, with muscle burning more calories than fat does. When people are dieting, it is more important than ever that they sustain a healthy metabolic rate. Around 50 more calories a day are burned with every extra pound of muscle someone develops.

It is recommended by experts that calorie intake never drops below 1,000 to 1,200 a day, in order to prevent unhealthy drops in metabolic rate.

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