When I say “health”, what do you think of? These days we are thinking less about physical health and more about mental, emotional, relational and other areas of health. They all are inextricably linked. There are two trends that have been ingrained in our society; physical health only deals with the physical, and mental, emotional health has very little to do with the physical. Fortunately, society is beginning to see that it is all connected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines: health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Study after study have shown the positive benefits of exercise in reducing or alleviating depression, reducing anxiety and even decreasing irritability. Moderate exercise has a wonderful chemical effect on the body and brain with the release of feel good chemicals like endorphins. The twenty or more endorphins created by your body reduce stress, make you happier, act as painkillers, boost the immune system, boost your killer cells to fight cancer and are anti-aging. Exercise has been shown to enlarge the hippocampus which usually shrinks during aging and contributes to reduced cognitive functioning.
Physical health issues cause a rise in depression rates. They also negatively affect ones social interactions. Professor David Goldberg of the Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK, reports that the rate of depression in patients with a chronic disease is almost three times higher than normal. He explains, “Depression and chronic physical illness are in reciprocal relationship with one another: not only do many chronic illnesses cause higher rates of depression, but depression has been shown to antedate some chronic physical illnesses.”
Food is a huge factor in mental health. Your body is a chemical factory. Food has an effect on those chemicals. Some consider food to be chemicals as well. Just like when you put two chemicals together or two compounds together, (like ammonia and bleach), the interaction is toxic and possibly caustic. Alcohol, sugar and caffeinated drinks create a chemical impropriety for people struggling with depression and anxiety. Whereas eating foods high in B vitamins can aid the homeostasis of your brain and body to combat depression and anxiety. Also, eating things like turkey that are high in tryptophan is good because tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin. Omega 3 fatty acids are also a depression fighter besides being an anti-inflammatory and reducing the risk of heart problems.
You see where I have gone. Mental and emotional health and physical health are intimately linked. We all want to be mentally healthy because we know it affects all other areas of life. So remember this, your physical health is linked to your mental and emotional health. Pay attention to your mind, heart, brain and body.