The way that our body and mind functions on a day to day basis depends on a huge number of factors. One day we may be full of beans whilst the next we are could be way down in the dumps. Our moods are influenced by any number of internal and external factors. The same goes for our bodies and sometimes, the body itself can have a positive or negative effect on our minds. The food that we choose to eat also has an influence on how we feel, this is particularly true when we are talking about foods that we crave or dislike. We associate feeling good and also feeling bad with food items that trigger certain pleasant or unpleasant memories. Here we look at the way that 3 separate factors influence our bodies and minds:
Whilst each of these may be connected, the way that they influence our bodies and minds varies greatly. Here we take a closer look at each of these and discuss how they can both help and hinder both body and mind.
How medicine and drugs can affect the body and mind
Typically, medicine enters the body in a number of different ways:
- Via an injection
- Skin patch
Once it enters our system, the body then does its best to try and break down the medicine. The liver plays a large part in how the medicine is chemically altered. The bloodstream will then carry the drug through the body and this is where it starts to interact with our organs and tissues. Occasionally there will be side effects at this point and that will depend on individual and the way that they react to that particular medicine. The way that our liver alters the medicine is known as drug metabolism and the product is thereafter known as metabolites. Whilst they may not be as strong as the original product, their effects are usually far more powerful. If take more than the recommended dose of medicine, the liver can become damaged and this can have devastating effects on the body. When medicines are injected into the body, the effect they have is far quicker when compared to the same drug taken orally. They can also be taken via suppositories, which involve being inserted via the anal opening. This route actually bypasses the stomach and as a result, avoids the risk of the drug being diluted or even destroyed by hydrochloric acid. Prescription medicines also are known to have an effect on the human brain. Whilst the likes of mood changing drugs such as anti-anxiety or anti-depressants are connected to how our mind works, other medicines can also have rather negative results. Polypharmacy is a term used to describe taking more than one type of medicine at a time and this can lead to issues with the human mind. Statin drugs such as Lipitor are known for their cholesterol-lowering qualities but they have recently been associated with sever bouts of amnesia amongst prescribed users. Tranquilizers and anti-depressants are also known to carry a warning of certain side effects including dementia and panic attacks. The way to avoid the chances of these happening are by working with you doctor to formulate a plan offering potential alternatives whenever possible.
How different foods make us feel physically and mentally
The food that we choose to eat can have a massive impact on the way that our body and mind reacts. For example, how often we eat will have an effect on how alert we are. Our blood sugar levels are key to how tired or energetic we feel and that is part of the reason why skipping meals isn’t usually a good idea. Once our blood sugar drops, it is natural to start feeling depressed and even a little grumpy. By eating regularly, we can avoid those issues and face the day in a positive light. For example, breakfast is widely recognised to be the most important meal of the day because our bodies need to take on fuel before we leave the home for work or school. By choosing food such as oats and wholegrains which release energy slowly, our bodies are more likely to perform better throughout the day.
5 a day – not just a number
Those adverts and campaigns that keep telling us how important it is to eat 5 a day are pretty spot on. The big 5 refers to fruit and vegetables and these, in turn, contain vital fibre, vitamins and minerals. These are extremely important for our body and mind because they keep us alert and healthy. But it is equally important to vary the choice that we eat because it is possible to overload on the same types of food. By eating sugary types of food including processed sweets, fizzy drinks and white bread, our bodies are more likely to be effected by spikes and troughs during the day and night. It really is worth doing a little research or even speaking to your doctor about which foods should be included and excluded from our diets.
Hydration and fats
It is also very important to ensure that our bodies are hydrated throughout the day and night because it can lead to difficulty in concentrating and our bodies can fatigue rather easily if that isn’t the case. Dehydration can have a devastating effect on our bodies and minds and needs to be controlled carefully. Although the recommended daily intake of water is around 2 liters for an adult, it is also possible to get valuable fluids from the 5 a day we mentioned earlier. Whilst fatty foods should also be monitored, there are both good and bad fats contained in different food groups. Fatty oils that include omega 3 and omega 6 really help our brains to stay alert and concentrate. These are typically found in:
- Oily fish such as sardines, salmon, trout and herring. They contain up to 30% oil within their tissues and also include high levels of vitamin A and D. These shouldn’t be confused with whitefish which typically only contain oil in their liver.
- Nuts – especially almonds and walnuts
- Seeds – in particular pumpkin and sunflower
Medication and foods combined
Whilst on the topic of how food can affect our body and mind, it is also important to understand how certain medicines can react to our daily calorific intake. Antidepressants such as MAOI will cause a bad reaction if we eat any type of dried, pickled, matured or cured foodstuffs. When food is treated in that way, there is a substance known as tyramine that is boosted to a high level. This does not react well with MAOI and the outcome can be both painful and dangerous. If you are taking medication that contains lithium, it is important to monitor your intake of salt and liquids for the same reason. This is why it is vital to speak to your doctor about any possibility of a bad reaction when he or she prescribes you a new type of medicine.
How our health affects the way our bodies feel
Of course, in order for our bodies to function well, our health needs to be monitored and controlled carefully. This usually involves paying special attention to the foods we have discussed earlier but also requires regular exercise as part and parcel of our regular routine. As youngsters, we seem to be able to run about all day without ever suffering from fatigue, but once we start to get older, it is far more difficult to maintain those energy levels. The good news is that whatever age group that we belong to, there are plenty of exercises that will help us to stay in shape. The body needs to be kept active and alert by combining food and exercise in a sensible manner. If we start to neglect our bodies, that is when we start to open up the door to a myriad of potential problems. Chronic diseases are ready and waiting to walk through the very same door and once they get a hold of our bodies, it can be extremely challenging to say the least. High blood pressure, diabetes, anaemia are just 3 examples of how an unhealthy lifestyle can have quite devastating consequences. For those who are unsure of how to maintain a healthy balance with regards to food and exercise, a trip to the local doctor or even the nutritionist will be the way forward. Feeling sluggish and experiencing difficulty relaxing and sleeping can be the result of a poor lifestyle. Add excessive alcohol and smoking into the equation and the future starts to look very bleak indeed. By cutting these out of our diet and taking up some form of aerobic exercise, the body will at least start to recover and regain some form of normality. But it is crucial to keep this new routine up if we are to reduce the likelihood of chronic disease and any associated health complications.
Why a healthy lifestyle is vital for a healthy mind?
Just as our health has a direct connection to the way our bodies feel, it also affects the way our minds work. If you look after yourself with a healthy and active lifestyle, your mind will be both alert and fresh. Stress is just one issue that can arise from an unhealthy lifestyle. Regular exercise not only helps to reduce the blood pressure levels it also releases chemicals from the brain called endorphins. These are mood-boosting substances that can really lift the way that we feel and see the world. By avoiding exercise, there is more likelihood of feeling tired and unhappy, usually for no reason. For many younger people, instead of choosing to exercise, they prefer to wind down by spending hours playing computer games and watching box sets on the TV. This can not only cause problems when we try to sleep later on but can also be attributed to raising stress levels. To coin a well-worn phrase, ‘a healthy body is a healthy mind’ is pretty much on the money
So, to summarise, the way that we feel and behave on a daily basis strongly depends on what we eat, what medicines we are taking and how healthy we are feeling at that time. All of these factors are inextricably linked and we should do our utmost to ensure that we always have a decent level of control over these influences in order to feel as well and lucid as possible.