What are you feeding your body: Food, Sights and Sounds
Most Americans understand that what they eat affects their immune health and overall well-being. What they often miss is that what they see and hear also matters.
Today, we are going to talk about all three and how improving these three things can positively impact your physical and mental health.
Let’s start with what are you eating?
When it comes to food and diet, most people think weight loss. But what we eat also affects our overall good health: our brain, our cardiovascular system, our response to stress, our mood, our blood sugar levels, how much energy we have, and so much more.
The 2020 study, Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for the Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health, conducted by Hellas Cena and Philip C. Calder, concludes that your diet positively influences your measure of health and disease risk when the diet encourages the intake of foods similar to those found in the Mediterranean diet and discourages the intake of unhealthy foods.
An easy way to incorporate this type of diet into your lifestyle is to focus on eating plant-based, whole foods such as fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.
Consider filling your shopping cart with broccoli, onions, leaks, carrots, spinach, celery, potatoes, bell peppers (all four colors), mushrooms, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes, green beans, lima beans, black beans, lentils, apples, bananas, grapefruit, pears, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, or really any fruit or vegetable you love.
Also avoid added processed sugars, especially if you want to avoid depression. In a study published in the 2018 British Journal of Nutrition, Added sugars and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, dietary carbohydrate index and depression risk in the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Project, Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, et al. concluded that the more sugar you consume the greater the risk for depression.
Sugar consumption is one area of health where most health professionals agree. Conventionally trained medical doctors, holistic doctors, integrative doctors, functional nutrition practitioners and the World Health Organization (WHO), are all against consuming added processed sugars.
Four easy ways to cut down on consuming added sugars:
1. Replace sodas with water.
2. Cook at home instead of eating at restaurants.
3. Buy more whole foods and avoid packaged foods.
4. If you do buy processed packaged foods, read the label carefully and avoid those with added sugars.
Sights and Sounds
What you’re taking inside your body also includes what’s coming in through your eyes and ears.
“When you listen to or create music, it affects how you think, feel, move and more,” says neuroscientist Dr. Robert Finkelstein, who co-leads NIH’s music and health initiative. More studies are exploring the many different ways music stimulates healthier bodies and minds.
How to add more music to your life:
- Listen to music during the day, like on your way to work or during exercise. We have classical music playing in our house all day long.
- Sing and dance while you’re doing chores or cooking meals. Even if you can’t carry a tune, sing.
- Play a musical instrument. Consider taking lessons or joining friends to make music.
- Attend concerts, plays, and other community music activities in your area. There are many free concerts in Louisville, especially during this Kentucky Derby season.
- Encourage your kids to listen to music, sing, play an instrument, or participate in music programs at school.
Along with considering increasing listening to music for better health, consider decreasing listening to other stimuli such as negative news on the radio and TV.
Speaking of TV, what you feed your body through your eyes also is important and affects your health. A study published April 2019 in Science Advances concluded that media coverage of mass violence can cause distress in people who watch it on TV. That anxiety then can drive them to consume more trauma-related media in the future, causing even more distress. According to the lead author, Rebecca Thompson, the cycle of media exposure and distress appears to have downstream implications for public health. Repeated exposure to news coverage of collective traumas has been linked to poor mental health consequences and physical health problems.
An easy fix is to stop or at least limit how much TV news you watch; instead, read a book or watch uplifting, positive videos like those by humorist, Jeanne Robertson.
I was recently reminded of this story of an old Cherokee teaching his grandson about life.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Cena H, Calder PC. Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for The Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 27;12(2):334. doi: 10.3390/nu12020334. PMID: 32012681; PMCID: PMC7071223.
Sanchez-Villegas, Almudena, Zazpe, Itziar, Santiago, Susana, Perez-Cornago, Aurora, Martínez-González, Miguel, Lahortiga, Francisca: Added sugars and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, dietary carbohydrate index and depression risk in the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Project. 2017. VL- 11. DO – 10.1017/S0007114517003361. British Journal of Nutrition
Sound Health. Music gets you moving and more. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/01/sound-health