The Healing Powers of Eating Well
How a Healthy Diet Boosts Your Physical and Mental Health
While most of us are familiar with the health benefits of following a nutritious diet, it’s easy to forget that consuming nutrient-rich foods like salmon, leafy greens, and certain herbs and spices can also boost our brainpower. According to the Cleveland Clinic, nutritious foods like omega-3 fish, whole grains, nuts, olives, berries, dark chocolate, and green tea all have the power to keep our brains healthy and reduce our risk of developing certain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, these foods can also help us to lose weight, become more physically fit, and feel healthier overall.
If you’re looking to improve your physical and mental health while shedding a few pounds at the same time, changing your diet could be the right move for you. To explore some of the health benefits of following a nutritious diet, read on!
Exercise Regularly for Better Physical Health
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the foods we eat, the number of calories we consume, and the type of lifestyle we lead all contribute to our body weight, overall state of health, and the amount of physical activity we need each week. To stay healthy, for instance, we should aim for 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity or 1.25 hours of vigorous physical activity each week. If we’re looking to control our body weight, however, we need about an hour of physical activity each day. Fortunately, physical activity comes in many forms—including dancing, swimming, jogging, and playing a sport.
For optimal physical health, we should also avoid sedentary activities such as watching television—as too much sitting can lead to psychological distress, cognitive decline, elevated blood sugar levels, lower back pain, and an increased risk of developing certain cancers. For those of us who work desk jobs, it’s important to get up and walk around as often as we can to avoid sitting for extended periods of time.
Eat Well to Improve Cognitive Function
In addition to the physical benefits of eating well and exercising, certain foods can improve the health of our brains as well. These brain-boosting superfoods include blueberries, kale, almonds, walnuts, sardines, lake trout, avocados, and citrus fruits like oranges, limes, and lemons. Even certain spices and seasonings such as rosemary, turmeric, and sage have been proven to enhance cognitive function. As such, it’s important to incorporate these foods into our diets as regularly as possible.
If you’re thinking about changing your diet for better physical and mental health but don’t know where to start, some experts recommend following the Mediterranean diet. This heart-healthy diet has been linked to weight loss, improved mood, blood sugar stabilization, and better brain health overall.
Exercise Your Body and Mind to Boost Brain Power
While eating well is essential to improving physical and mental health, it’s also important to exercise your mind and body on a regular basis. According to one study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), moderate aerobic exercise boosts brain activity, task performance, and working memory—all important things that help to keep us happy, healthy, and productive.
Moreover, exercising our brains is just as important as engaging in regular physical activity—as certain activities like completing crossword puzzles, reading books, and challenging ourselves to something new can promote cognitive fitness and keep our brains stimulated. This is especially important for seniors as a way to stay sharp and protect aging brains. Several simple ways to exercise our brains include:
- Taking a class to learn a new hobby or skill.
- Traveling to an unknown destination or regularly switching up our daily commutes.
- Playing cards, chess, and board games.
- Solving word finds and sudoku puzzles.
- Using brain training software such as BrainHQ, Elebate, Cognifit, or Fit Brains.
- Coloring in an adult coloring book.
Consuming a healthy diet and remembering to exercise your body and mind are vital to looking and feeling your best—especially as you grow older. By modifying your diet and lifestyle to include more nutritious foods and physical activity, and by challenging yourself to new activities and experiences, you’ll be well on your way to living your best life possible.
Article by Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com
Image via Unsplash
2020 02 09