NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH MONTH: THE KEY ROLES OF A HEALTHY DIET AND REGULAR EXERCISE
Talking about mental health has become more and more popular in recent years as many fight to push past the stigma that often surrounds the topic. This is extremely important, as according to the CDC, 1 in every 4 Americans suffer from some sort of mental health concern, such as anxiety or depression. While there can be several different causes behind mental health issues, there are two things that can often combat them: eating a healthy diet and regularly exercising.
May is National Mental Health Month which means it’s the perfect time to examine the impact that diet and exercise have on our mental wellbeing. Our Kansas City health club has compiled some information that could really help. Keep reading to learn more!
THE ROLE OF DIET
Have you ever heard the old adage ‘you are what you eat’? While many people talk about this in terms of outward appearance, what we consume does impact our brains as well. Depending on what our diets look like, this can either improve our mental state or get worse.
Here in the United States, we are conditioned to eat things that are quick and packaged. Fatty meat, refined sugar, white bread and other simple carbohydrates are the centerfolds of our diets. While this can be a tough habit to break, a great way to eat better can be to opt for a traditional diet. Take a look at some of the other cultures around the world and what they eat. For example, a standard Japanese or Mediterranean diet usually consists of a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, unprocessed grains, fish and seafood.
When you make the switch to eating more whole foods, it can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to detox and work all the processed foods completely out of your body. By that time, you should notice a significant difference not just in how your body feels, but an improvement in your mental health as well! You may find that you feel less anxious, have more energy and feel overall more like yourself.
A healthy diet is essential for brain development. Just like you can’t build a sturdy house out of bossil wood and construction paper, you can’t truly expect your brain to function at peak condition without the proper food going into your body. You should opt for foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories and overall promote a sense of wellness in your body.
Here is a quick list of some of our favorite brain foods:
- FATTY FISH: You will want to add fatty fish to your diet if you haven’t already! Some examples are salmon, tuna, herring and sardines. They are rich in Omega-3s, which help to promote brain cell development, the creation of nerve cells and even promote memory and retention.
- BLUEBERRIES: These little fruits are definitely a superfood! Not only do they taste delicious, but they are also powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. According to one review of 11 different studies, blueberries were shown to actually improve memory and certain cognitive processes in both children and adults.
- BROCCOLI: For another food that is high in antioxidants, be sure to load up your plate with broccoli. As an added bonus, this green veggie is rich with Vitamin K, which can actually help to improve memory and cognitive performance.
STOP BY THE KITCHEN
While the aforementioned foods are just a few of our favorites, we invite you to stop by The Kitchen. Our Kansas City health club prides itself on sourcing the purest and freshest ingredients available, opting to purchase from local farms and ranches. We understand that holistic health begins with what you eat, and that is why everything we serve on our seasonal menus must adhere to our 6 Standards of Quality.
So whether you are looking for a light snack before a workout or want to come and enjoy a full meal with friends, know that when you come by The Kitchen, you are enjoying food that will bolster your mental and physical health.
THE ROLE OF EXERCISE
We have to workout to keep our bodies healthy – that is hardly a secret. But what about our brains? If you have ever been depressed or anxious, think about how you were feeling at that time. Odds are good that you were sluggish, tired and didn’t want to spend time around anyone. You may have even been zoned out or couch locked. While getting up seemed like a daunting task, you probably felt better once you got moving again.
KEEP IT MOVING
The idea that an object in motion tends to stay in motion isn’t just something you jotted down in physics class. This applies to your body as well! When we get up and move, we usually tend to stay in motion. For example, after you’ve completed a work out, you might still have some adrenaline going and decide to keep moving to work it out. One way to do this is by cleaning your house. Once your house is clean, your mood is improved because your environment is now improved. It creates a healthy chain of movement and action that can actually help your mental health!
Serotonin is a chemical in our brains that is necessary to help us regulate our mood. Not only that, but it is critical for maintaining a normal sleep cycle. When we don’t get enough sleep, especially on a consistent basis, we tend to be irritable, anxious and even depressed. A great way to naturally boost serotonin in the body is by working out. Opt for about 30 minutes of exercise three or four days a week for the best results!
IMPROVED BLOOD FLOW
In order to think clearly, blood flow must make it to the brain. Regular and consistent exercise can actually help to increase the volume of blood that makes it to the various chambers in the brain. The more clearly you can think, the less anxious and depressed you will be, thus improving your mental health.
KANSAS CITY HEALTH CLUB
If you are ready to feel your best, then it’s time to get a membership to Woodside! Other than our Kitchen, you will have access to many other great Woodside amenities, including multiple fitness floors, a huge array of group fitness classes each week and even the ability to work with a personal trainer. Schedule a tour today and see what our Kansas City health club can do for you!