The Truth behind

You've heard it a million times, but the next time you hear "you are what you eat," you can be sure that the statement has been validated by numerous studies.

While the phrase has earlier origins, it didn't emerge in the English-speaking world until nutritionist Victor Lindlahr published his book You Are What You Eat: how to win and keep health with diet in 1942. The idea that, in order to be fit and healthy, you need to eat good food has existed for more than half a century, and yet, there are few that realize how science has proved it through thousands of subsequent studies.

The Science, the Food and the Outcome

Need proof for how food affects your physical and mental performance? Look no further.

1. Food and brain function. Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have contributed to a growing body of research that explores the effect of diet and nutrition on the brain. Several studies conducted at the Neuroscience Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston have looked at the cognitive benefits of ingesting a variety of plant foods.

A diet that incorporates plant foods that are high in antioxidants (such as strawberries, blueberries, and various nuts) were found to reverse age-related deficits in neuronal and cognitive function.

2. Food and athletic performance. If you spend your free time frequenting the gym, ball court, or running distances in excess of 20 miles a week, your performance will benefit from paying attention to the glycemic index.

Lower glycemic index foods (such as pasta, nuts, beans, and, oranges) eaten approximately an hour before physical activity has been found to drop blood sugar prior to training, thus sparing muscle glycogen. What does this result in? Preserving muscle glycogen can result in less fatigue and better overall performance.

Conversely, eating foods higher on the glycemic index may enhance performance in athletes and can be useful during and after workouts. The spike in blood insulin can help boost short-term energy-thus the benefit of bananas, carrots, and carb gels when you're pushing yourself physically.

3. Food and sexual performance. You already know a high-fat diet can result in clogged arteries that can lead to heart attack or stroke. But did you know that blocked arteries also affect your sex life? When you suffer from atherosclerosis, all the body's blood vessels are affected, including those in the genitals. In fact, one of the first signs of clogged arteries in men is erectile dysfunction (ED).

It's well established that the sentiment behind "You are what you eat" rings true. Maintaining a balanced diet, one comprised of whole grains, lean protein, and a variety of plant foods, is essential for overall health and bodily performance.