As we grow more into the computer age, away from our roots of hard labor and menial everyday tasks, the sedentary lifestyle takes a stronger hold upon us. Not only do we see our bodies swelling in size, but–more alarmingly to me–our minds are suffering. Computers, while great (and I love mine), do not require us to recall as much as we used to. We type our next appointments into our smart phone, set an alarm, and forget about it. We access our email account, which keeps much of our lives on file at our fingertips, it seems, to see what we have coming up tomorrow. Furthermore, diet and exercise both play a large role in our mental health, and many of us are not getting enough of either.
In a recent poll published in the June 2012 issue of SportSmart magazine (published by Consumer Reports; featured in July/Aug 2012 ACE/IDEA Fitness Journal), a vast majority of women stated that their main reason for not eating healthier was cost. Here are the statistics:
- 57%: Eating healthful foods is too expensive.
- 47%: Social settings are too tempting.
- 39%: Life is too short; I want to enjoy what I eat.
- 33%: It’s hard to find healthy options when eating out.
- 29%: I don’t have time to prepare healthy meals.
- 25%: My family prefers less healthy meals.
- 20%: Unhealthy habits are too hard to change.
- 18%: Healthy foods don’t satisfy my appetite.
- 13%: I’m not sure which foods are healthy.
I myself have thought of these same reasons on many occasions. It is much easier to find a quick fix. I enjoy foods that are considered “unhealthy,” though through much practice, I have learned to do it through moderation. Not only do I go for foods that are better for my body, but I try to get those in that are better for my mind. With some organizations projecting a rise in neurological disorders of almost 15% by 2020, and the growing awareness of debilitating disorders like Alzheimer’s and Dementia, it is important that we behave in a proactive manner to combat what is happening to our minds.
In Ayurveda, it is believed that food is one of the main ways we heal our bodies. (Eat-Taste-Heal is a great guide/recipe book for those interested in learning more.) Some of my personal favorite foods are fish and turmeric. Here are some great foods to boost your brain. Pick the Brain also has some great tips for providing yourself with a memory boost in natural, healthy, proactive ways. For more information, check out Food for the Brain.
Some quick, but not necessarily easy, tips for improving concentration and memory function:
- Do crossword puzzles.
- Start memorizing something. (For me, this year, it has been Psalms.)
- Learn a new language.
- Eat more veggies (and fruit).
We only get one body and one mind. Having watched my grandmother slip into Alzheimer’s through most of my early teens until her death, I know how devastating it is to see someone you love call your mother “Sebby” instead of “Debbie.” I don’t think there is a person in this world who wants to unknowingly treat their relatives and friends with ill-will. It is well known that those suffering from neurological disorders find it frustrating. They are trapped inside themselves.
Do what you can, therefore, to minimize this awful (potential) effect of age. Eat right, get moving, start memorizing, and learn to forgive often. A sad but harsh story from my husband’s side of the family: his grandmother had bottled her contempt and rage for so long, that when she finally sunk into dementia, she tried to kill her own husband (though he never would admit to it).