We need both mind and body equally to carry out our daily activities. As we age, we face the challenges of ageing, living, working, struggling to have a fit mind and a body. Therefore, food being an important source of energy, we need to give our undivided attention to what we consume daily. This Mind diet is a routine plan of what we need to consume daily to keep our mind healthy and prevent us from Alzheimer’s, dementia and other age-related illness.
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We know by now that chronic inflammation is the commonest cause of various disease state in the body. Inflammation is a natural attempt of our body ‘s immune system to fight against a certain state like infections, injury or toxins which can harm the body. It is a defence system.
When cell damages, your body releases chemicals in the form of antibodies and protein to combat the threat and increases the blood supply to the damaged area to fasten the healing. This usually lasts for a few days and is called acute inflammation. But when the response lingers for a long time can be harmful to the body. In the chronic inflammatory state, the body goes into a constant state of threat. This is the state responsible for many diseases ranging from cancers, asthma, heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Chronic inflammation is influenced mainly by chronic stress, anxiety, prolonged infection, injury, autoimmune diseases (like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriasis and many more), long exposure to toxins and lifestyle factors like smoking, obesity, alcoholism.
Physically, maintaining the health of the body by eating an anti-inflammatory healthy diet (antioxidant-rich ), exercise, Yoga, sleep helps the body greatly to prevent and defend from the inflammatory state. But then, this is not enough, our environment, our thoughts, feelings, emotions are equally important for healthy mental health, responsible to prevent and defend the body from the inflammatory state. So, how do we maintain a sound, calm mind in spite of all the day to day triggers of stress from our daily grind?
Several types of research have found that meditation-like mindful practises does reduce inflammation by impacting in the brain ‘s functional connectivity. Stress reduction mindfulness practices have shown a marked reduction in inflammatory biomarkers like C reactive proteins.
Learning and practising meditation isn’t rocket science. We don’t need a special session under an expert or Guru to learn to meditate. It is simply a state with the least distraction and freeing the mind from the clutter of thoughts. It is making an effort to put our mind in a relaxed, calm and “nothing” state. There are loads of books, reading materials and videos on Youtube and other channels of guiding and teaching you to meditate. But for me, self learning and adopting my method to relax my mind and meditate , works better. Just devote some time for yourself everyday, away from all distractions.
Mindfulness too greatly helps the mind to free from the thoughts clutter. Like meditation, you don’t need to go to a “no thought” state. Instead, you remain fully aware of your surrounding, yet not being reactive to it. It is a basic human ability to be fully present at the moment. Like being simply aware of your breaths, or simply focussing on whatever task you are performing at the moment.
To conclude, whether you may meditate or learn to practise mindfulness, the main purpose is to clearyour mind from unnecessary thoughts clutter. This helps your mind greatly from going into chronic stress and overthinking. Maintaining a calm and relaxed mind not only prevent unnecessary inflammation but nurture the physical body and is also self healing.
Like fashion, health trends keep changing with every passing year. There are a craze for particular diets (like keto, paleo, vegan ) and particular fitness techniques (Zumba, Equinox, pilates) which reaches a peak and slowly die down. In spite of each year coming up with a new concept of diet or fitness method, interestingly people are more leaning towards basics.
The concept of a simple basic diet comprising of fresh local produce and ample amount of physical activity which was never a part of the trend nor sounds fancy is timeless and considered the healthiest. This remains the basic key to healthier life irrespective of new health trends coming and going.
Certain health concepts which were never a part of the trends are here to stay forever.
Ayurveda: An ancient Indian form of healing about 5000 years old, has the concept of holistic healing when there is collective healing of mind, body and soul. Hence, the ayurvedic herbs and spices have become so popular across the world for their tremendous health benefits and immune-boosting properties. Off late, it has been very popular in the Western world.
The other day, I went into an organic store to get my organic green tea. I was quite surprised to see all ayurvedic herbs powder like Ashwagandha, neem, Brahmi, cumin, moringa, amla, turmeric powder and even more, some of which I am not even aware. This wasn’t an Indian store. This was quite unusual for me, as the city in Europe where I live, there aren’t too many Indians. Again turmeric is one spice, which has become so popular now, worldwide, for its magnificent health benefits and is no longer limited as a cooking ingredient in Indian cooking. It has been a common ingredient in smoothies, milkshakes and even ice creams.
Back to basics: Though gymming and workouts have been very popular, people are leaning more towards the simple physical activity of walking, running, swimming, cycling. The importance of plant-based fibre diet is a timeless concept which not only helps to maintain lean body weight but also helps to prevent lifestyle diseases.
The importance of Mother nature is the best healer has gained great momentum in recent years. Nature, the hills, trees, rivers, the very sounds of birds chirping are very soothing and rejuvenating not only for the wellbeing of physical health but also heals the mind from the day to day stress and routine anxieties.
Japanese Healthy Lifestyle: Japanese concept of living have been quite popular too because it is known to have some of its longest living citizens. They live with a simple concept of happiness, living with small joys of life which result in fulfilling life. Their unique method of cooking with the all-natural ingredient with very less oil and minimum cooking restoring the flavour and nutrients. People old and young lead a very active physical life.
Some concepts which are also seen to have been quite popular and are pretty much in are :
Gut health: People have understood the importance of maintaining a healthy gut. About 70% of our body’s immunity depends on gut health. So, the food containing pre and probiotic bacteria like yoghurt, saurerkraut, khimchi and kefir have become very popular. You can find these items in every other food outlet. Buttermilk has been a popular drink. Other forms of milk which are here to stay for their soothing health benefits are oats milk, almond milk and rice milk. Coconut and coconut milk has been very much in.
Other methods of maintaining gut health are tongue scraping and oil pulling. This was an Ayurvedic morning ritual but now has become a mainstream recommendation for its tremendous benefits. During night time, while the body’s digestion progresses, the undigested toxins and bacteria are deposited in the tongue to dispose of as wastes. So, it is important to clean the tongue properly otherwise, the toxins might get reabsorbed.
Mind healing: Mental wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing for holistic health. Our thoughts, emotions and feeling do count for a whole well-being state. Routine workouts and healthy eating are not enough for overall wellbeing, it is very important to have a healthy mind as well. So mindful practises, yoga and meditation are some important practices which are here to stay forever.
Cortisol conscious workouts: This is a conscious step which has been given much importance off late as routine heavy workout can result in peaked level of cortisol. Since most of the workout techniques involve a high level of stress and exertion, the cortisol ( stress hormone) level is pumped up at a continuous elevated level. This is important to be regulated as high levels are very harmful to the body. So, the choice of workout, clubbed with simple routine activities and how far you can push yourself needs to be regulated to keep the body cortisol in balance. (details in one of my previous post https://healthhappinesshealing.org/2019/08/07/post-cortisol-vigilant-workout-3-important-reasons/)