It seems that everywhere we turn we hear that exercise and diet are important to health. When I am working with patients on their treatment plan we always have a discussion about their physical health. Sometimes making positive changes to their diet and exercise can have profound effects on their overall well-being, and in some cases – reduce or eliminate their need for psychotropic medication.
Cardiovascular exercise (when your heartrate is elevated and you are breathing hard) trains your heart and your vascular system to perform efficiently. What does this mean? You get improved blood flow to your brain and your body – transporting nutrients, oxygen, hormones, immune cells, chemicals, etc. Without this circulation, the end organs may not function properly. This includes your brain!
Weight-bearing exercise strengthens your muscles and bones. This prevents injury, improves mobility, helps posture, and may also release important chemicals to the rest of your body. This type of exercise can also help to keep your internal organs in the proper location so that they function optimally.
There is much discussion about what exactly a “healthy diet” includes. It appears that a diet low in processed sugars and fats, low in chemical additives, and high in fiber and vegetables is a common-sense solution. We are capable of digesting a wide variety of “unhealthy” foods but this takes a toll on our body’s resources. I like to think about the 80% rule – eat 80% healthy foods 80% of the time – as a reasonable goal for most people. This is difficult because the current American society has all sorts of conflicting messages and pressures coming at us at all times. It can be an eye-opening experience to consult with a nutritionist to learn what your body actually needs on a daily basis. Think about what your body needs to function optimally – anything other than that is just extra work and drains your body’s energy and resources from other functions and activities.
Live Mentally Healthy,
Dr. Jennie Byrne