What Grandma Said or Eat your Beets
By: John Goetz, LPC
First and foremost, I must wish a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. It has been an interesting end to 2016. Between the elections, fall semester finials, the holiday season, bedlam football, and looking forward to a New Year, this can be a very hectic time of year. During Thanksgiving, with friends and family, I was trying to avoid political discussions and found myself talking about healthcare insurance and health in general. The short of the long story is people shared stories about their health care premiums doubling and concerns about the ever growing cost of healthcare. This led to my daughter introducing me to FoundMyFitness, a podcast by Dr. Rhonda Patrick. This dovetailed with an earlier conversation about mental health and substances abuse treatment, including the cost associated. All of which lead me to a conclusion I would like to share with you. Health may be one of the few things in life which we exercise a large degree of control over, but often chose ignore.
First, without your physical and mental health what do you have? Consider the common headache. Can you imagine having a headache or toothache that you could not relieve for 7 days? How well would you sleep, what would your mood be like, and how pleasant would you be? Chronic health issues directly affect the quality of our lives. Secondly, how much would you pay to relieve the pain? When we have the flu we gladly pay doctors to write prescriptions for anti-biotic and Tamiflu in an effort to shorten the course of the illness by a day. This is to say nothing of the millions we spend on prescription medication. One way to look at it is $400 a month on prescriptions or $400 a month towards travel. Thirdly how much of your time is consumed when you are struggling physically or mentally? What if there was something that you could do, that you do every day, something that you may even look forward to doing that could improve your physical and mental health. Would you do it? Why don’t we do it?
The science is in, and grandma was right. You are what you eat. Want to feel great, lose weight, sleep better, and think clearer? Then eat your vegetables. Well, it is not exactly that simple, but eating 3-5 servings of vegetables a day would be a great start. If you want to boost the power of those vegetables, then exercise daily. This is no longer merely opinion or a positive suggestion, a healthy diet and regular exercise is as critical to your mental and physical health as brushing and flossing is to keeping your teeth. What you eat directly results in molecular changes within your body, in what chemicals cross the blood brain barrier, short term and long term, positive or negative changes to that wonderful biological machine we call our body. We now can empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of daily diet and exercise on a host of pathologies. Specific studies support the use of exercise as a treatment for depression. Exercise compares favorably to antidepressant medications as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression and has also been shown to improve depressive symptoms when used as an adjunct to medications.
I probably don’t have to convince you that the caffeine in your cup of coffee or tea is a chemical that directly affects your brain functioning, but do you realize that the sweet potato you ate for lunch is full of chemicals that also directly affect your brain? The well- known serenity prayer asks that I may have the wisdom to recognize those things within my control and the courage to act upon them. Do you recognize that you greatly control your diet and exercise? Do you recognize that your diet and exercise significant affects your physical and mental health? Do you have the courage to act upon this knowledge? The holidays represent anticipation and new beginnings. Here’s wishing your new beginning includes choices that will bring great rewards now and long into the future. Edmond Family Counseling appreciates support from the community. If you would like to include us in your year-end giving, go to http://www.edmondfamily.org to make a tax deductible donation and support community mental health care in Edmond!