Stress. We have become a society of working long hours, staring at screens, sitting in traffic, and eating on the move. We want a quick easy answer now. Medical research continues to demonstrate that stress causes anxiety, chronic disease and shortens our lifespan. Fortunately, there are many ways to decrease stress and improve our happiness and longevity. Filling our body with nutrients is key.
Nutrients from food give us energy and fill our bodies with the basic building blocks to create and regenerate cells. Our body uses water, amino acids (protein), vitamins and minerals to make healthy organs, bones, skin, muscle, enzymes, and hormones. The lack of these essential foods, or nutrient deficiency, causes moodiness, fatigue, stomach upset, insomnia and pain. The quick answer to a healthy diet is protein, vegetables, fiber-rich grains and fruit. Avoid sugar, additives and processed food because they impair the process.
Food is not the only ingredient for a healthy life. We all know people who eat well but still suffer from signs of nutrition deficiency. Scientific studies demonstrate how stress turns on the sympathetic fight or flight pathway by releasing cortisol and adrenaline. Our prehistoric brain reacts to these chemicals by trying to run from a non-existent dinosaur. Overflowing brain chemicals create inflammation which depletes energy, upsets digestion, disrupts sleep, clouds thinking, and induces pain.
Extensive research using brain MRI’s describe how non-food lifestyle choices turn on the parasympathetic rest and digest pathway leading to increased clarity, energy, digestion and ultimate longevity. Proven therapies include:
- Laughter with family, friends and pets,
- Attention without distractions. Note each movement. Hear each sound,
- Regenerative sleep. A dark room without things that wake you,
- Quiet deep breathing for 10 minutes per day,
- Nature – a simple plant can improve your mood,
- Activity – a short walk qualifies, find something you look forward to,
- Creativity – find your passion even if it is not your career,
- Taking time for you. Soak in a bath, read a book, paint, read, write, muse…,
- Be proud of who you are.
The answer to health is easy. Give your body what it needs and it will carry you into a vibrant old age. Eat a healthy meal. Call a loved one. Laugh. Go for a walk. Look out the window. Clear your mind of distraction. Reflect on who you are. Do your best. Breathe.