The Body-Mind Connection and the Importance of Good Diet and Exercise for Vibrant Mental Health
Eat Wisely for Life
Many people in America suffer from poor mental health due, in part, to poor physical health. There are many reasons why we suffer poor physical health: an inadequate diet, lack of sufficient exercise, genetic disposition, an undisciplined and negative mental attitude, and lack of will to do what should be done to optimize good health. When our daily routine does not include enough exercise--at least a half-hour walk--then our blood circulation gets sluggish as the heart muscles become weaker. Blood pressure that is too low from lack of sufficient exercise promotes lethargy and cloudy cognition. Over-eating combined with insufficient exercise can lead to obesity and a host of other physical health problems. All of these issues can lead to depression, irritability, stress, anxiety, and more. Worse yet, some of these health conditions, such as obesity or anorexia, can lead to social ostracism, which comes with its own set of mental health challenges, such as alienation, suicidal ruminations and suicide itself. So, getting fit and maintaining a general level of fitness is critical for good mental and emotional fitness.
Fortunately, all of this is workable. (Yes, even our genetic code can be worked with. Although we can't change our genetic code, we can choose behaviors that support the maximum health our individual genetic code can support.) So, when choosing to start the path to health, it is a good idea to contact one's family physician as well as a nutritionist to assess what diet and exercise routines will maximize one's health potential. Remember: each of us is different from the other so there is no single diet or exercise program for everybody. Find out what works best for you, and stick to it.
One of the contributors to both poor mental health and poor physical health is sugar (see Sugar Addiction and Illnes for detailed information), and Americans consume sugar, knowingly or unknowingly, in almost everything, especially in the form of corn syrup. (Stay away from corn syrup as much as possible by eating whole, unprocessed foods!) Sugar affects moods, decreases mental and physical ability to deal with stress, and destabilizes the body's insulin regulation system, promoting diabetes.
The habit of deriving energy from sugar to meet the demands of the day is not how we are designed for optimal functioning. Our bodies evolved to meet our energy needs by metabolizing fat and complex carbohydrates ("carbs") found in vegetables and whole grains. When we consume simple carbs, especially in the form of sugar and processed carbs, then our body stores fat and uses the sugar for energy because it is easier to metabolize. In view of our evolution, sugars and simple carbs were usually consumed sparingly and in season through the consumption of fruit. You will naturally lose weight when you eat a diet devoid of processed carbs and sugar supplements.
If you remove processed carbs and sugar supplements from your diet, then your body metabolizes the fat for fuel. Your body will metabolize both saturated and unsaturated fats, which is good news because this means you can eat pork, beef, chicken as well as butter. Of course, unsaturated fats (fats derived from nuts, fish, avocados, seeds, etc.) are better for our bodies because they contain lipids in a form more useful for our bodies maintenance, such as Omega 3, 6 & 9. Also, when you don't eat processed carbs and sugar, then you don't have to worry about cholesterol.
It is recommended that your breakfast include complex carbs (vegetables, fresh fruit and/or whole grains) and light protien (eggs, milk products and/or nuts); lunch should entail heavier protiens (such as meats) and complex carbs (vegetables), while dinner should be heavy on the complex carbs (vegetables) and light on protien (like having a salad with a few strips of meat or some nuts). Proteins help drive the body's metabolism burning fat, which keeps us awake and alert, while the complex carbs help keep our insulin levels regular so we don't feel the need to snack or binge eat (the "munchies"). If you must have a dessert in the evening, then eat fruit paired with protein and fat, such as some cheese with sliced apple or pear, a small bowl of cottage cheese with fruit and nuts, or a bit of unsweetened nut butter with a few squares of dark chocolate and a couple of strawberries or cherries.
In general, the best practice is to eat whole, unprocessed foods for great physical and mental health. It is very important to eat fresh food with every meal because it is more vital than food that has been frozen, dried or canned because the enzymes in fresh food that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption are broken down when foods are frozen, dried or canned.
Whether you are an omnivore or a vegetarian, you have to select food from a variety of sources to maintain a balanced and healthy dietary regimen. Eating an unbalanced diet will lead to illness as your body becomes depleted of necessary nutrients that are provided by a diverse and balanced diet.
Recommended Dietary Regimens:
People who have explored various dietary regimens tend to gravitate towards one diet or another often favoring diets that promise to take off the unwanted pounds. Although weight-loss diets can aid in the reduction of fat, they also can throw the body out of balance and compromise our health as the weight is reduced. A healthy diet fosters vitality throughout the body. When this is done, then the body finds its own natural weight that is necessary for optimum functioning, which will differ from one person to the next. The goal is vitality, which indicates that the body is properly aligned with the flow of energy--the flow of the Dragon's breath (chi or prana)--through itself in relation to its environment and levels of activity.
The Eat Right for Your Blood Type Diet
In my experience, the Eat Right for Your Blood Type diet, which was developed by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo and Catherine Whitney, is a dietary regimen that fosters vitality by helping us individualize our dietary needs according to biological characteristics of our blood type. If you would like to get more detailed information about The Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type Diet, then visit Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo official site:
Eat Right for Your Type. Reference the following charts for specific information about food choices for your blood-type diet: Blood-Type Food Chart and the Blood-Type Medicinal Herbs Food List.
The Bulletproof Diet
The Bulletproof Diet, which was developed by Dave Asprey, is a dietary regimen that fosters vitality by recommending a diet that is principled upon human evolutionary history. If you would like to get more detailed information about The Bulletproof Executive Diet, then visit Dave Asprey's official site: The Bulletproof Diet. Reference the following chart for specific information about the diet: Bulletproof Diet Chart
The important thing is to find a dietary regimen that is oriented towards the enhancement of vitality rather than the mere loss of weight.
Things to Know:
Keep your diet on the alkaline, rather than acidic, side. An alkaline diet will help to control weight issues while boosting your immune system to fend off bacterial and viral infections and reduce the incidence of cancer. (Click on the link below for the acid-alkaline food chart that list desirable food choices.) Also, get into the habit of making juice fasts a regular part of your dietary regimen just to give your body a break on a weekly basis.
Regular exercise is critical to good mental health because exercise energizes and oxygenates the body-mind system. Energy and oxygen are critical for a vital mind that is attentive and bright. When people become lethargic in their lifestyle habits, then they become more prone to lazy mental habits that can lead to inattention, poor thinking and depressive moods.
When it comes to exercise, find a regimen that works with your personality, blood type and temperment. Not everybody is a jogger and not everybody loves going to the gym every day. I like riding my bike, walking a two-mile circuit through the neighborhood and going to the gym for weight training (the least interesting--but an effective--part of my regimen) several times per week. Also, I enjoy skiing, hiking, and various other outdoor activities, and I like to dance. I try to make these different activities a regular part of my life, changing certain activities as the seasons change. This keeps things interesting for me. I highly recommend that you find your mix of daily, weekly and seasonal regimens that work for you. The key is to find an exercise routine that you enjoy, which will incline you to do it, and then to stick to it.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PROPERLY HYDRATED?
Clean pure water is essential to the health of every cell in your body. In the presence of fresh water, the body is able to effectively breathe, digest, eliminate and perspire. Even our glandular activities rely on the presence of water. However, an amazingly small minority of all Americans drink sufficient amounts of water! And even if you are drinking enough water, it may still be difficult to avoid dehydration.
It is very difficult to achieve a state of optimum hydration if you carry too much body fat. A fat cell can only hold up to 15% water, whereas a healthy muscle cell can hold up to 72%; the more fat you carry, the less space you have for storing water. Therefore, losing muscle over time contributes towards an overall state of dehydration. You can drink all the water in the world, but unless you have somewhere to put it, it will go right through you.
Ideal hydration percentage (intracellular water) is >65% for men and >60% for women. Most people carrying excess body fat (28-38%) come in around 52-55%. Even if these people drink gallons of water a day, they will remain dehydrated. The focus should then turn to increasing lean body mass (muscle), and decreasing fat mass. This is done through dietary changes and the addition a of muscle-building fitness program.
Signs of Dehydration
Whether you're exercising, spending time in the summer sun or are feeling under the weather, you can easily become dehydrated if you don't take in enough fluids. Once dehydration has set in, the body slowly begins to shut down, eventually causing problems such as kidney failure, seizures and brain swelling. Fortunately, your body will tell you that you're dehydrated before you get to that stage, by displaying one or more of the following warning signs.
Although dehydration can easily occur when you're sick or spending time in the sun, it can be just as easy to prevent. All you need to do is just keep drinking!
One of the early signs of dehydration is a dry mouth. This typically includes dry or cracked lips, difficulty swallowing and a heavy tongue that sticks to the bottom of your mouth. A dry mouth can be pretty uncomfortable and usually makes people want to drink for that very reason.
Fatigue is another common sign of dehydration, so if you feel tired after a workout or sluggish while working in the afternoon, it may be because you haven't had enough to drink. If you have had plenty of water and still feel dehydrated, you may have adrenal fatigue, which actually causes dehydration. Those who have this condition need to drink about one-half to one gallon of water each day. If you often feel fatigued after drinking a lot, you may want to consult with your doctor.
This may seem like an obvious symptom, but when you're dehydrated, you become thirsty. It's just your body's way of urging you to drink. On average, a woman should drink about nine glasses of fluid per day while a man should drink about 12 glasses of fluid per day.
Difficulty Going To The Bathroom
Constipation and difficulty urinating are two more common symptoms of dehydration. In children and adults, this means going eight or more hours without urinating. Cramps may also accompany these symptoms.
If you notice that your skin is slightly red, it may be because you are dehydrated. However, if you've been exercising for a while or have spent some time in the sun, your skin may be flushed anyway, so be sure to look for other warning signs that accompany this warning sign. However, if your skin feels dry and is usually so, this may be a sign of chronic dehydration.
Many headaches are caused by dehydration and this is especially true for children and teens. So if you feel a headache coming on, don't pop an aspirin - drink some water instead.
Just as a dog pants when it is dehydrated, a human will begin to breathe rapidly when he or she is dehydrated. This is actually a symptom of severe dehydration and may be accompanied by an increased heart rate.
Dizziness And Difficulty Concentrating
Dizziness, lightheadedness and vertigo are all symptoms of severe dehydration and are usually caused by a lack of blood in the brain. Severe dehydration can also cause confusion and can make it difficult to concentrate. Once these symptoms have developed, it's important to seek medical attention right away.
When you're nauseous, you usually don't feel like ingesting anything, but when it comes to dehydration, ingesting fluids is a must. Nausea is another symptom of severe dehydration, which requires medical attention.
Aggravation And Depression
If you find yourself feeling down in the dumps at your desk or snapping at co-workers for no reason, it may be because you are dehydrated. Try getting some water to see if it makes you feel better and don't forget to make regular stops at the water-cooler to give yourself a break while staying hydrated.
Poor Skin Turgor
Skin turgor refers to the elasticity of your skin. Normally, when you pinch your skin, it falls right back into place once you let go of it. But if you have poor skin turgor, your skin will take longer to fall back into place. The skin turgor test is a good indicator of dehydration and is often used by doctors when identifying a patient with dehydration.
By far, the best indicator of dehydration is the color of your urine. Your urine should actually be clear; if it isn't, that means that you haven't taken in enough fluids. How much are you lacking? The color will actually tell you. If the urine is a dark color, that's a sign of severe dehydration. But if the urine is a lighter color, that's a sign of mild dehydration. Either way, if your urine isn't clear, it's time to pour yourself a glass of water.
Obviously, to treat dehydration, you need to get more fluids, primarily water. But the key is to drink slowly, or else you'll induce vomiting or exacerbate the other symptoms of dehydration. Popsicles and electrolyte solutions may also be helpful for little ones. For severe dehydration, a hospital stay will most likely be needed.
Sources about dehydration symptoms:
- Mayo Clinic
- Medline Plus
- University of Rochester - Medical Center