All of us have grown up with the ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ saying. But when you think back to your childhood, apples were not as easily available across India, especially down South. Neither were they cheap. And yet, if you introspect, many of our elders were probably in good shape through to their later years. They never needed as much medical attention as we do as we age. So, even without eating apples, they must have done something right to keep them reasonably healthy throughout.
Coping with stress
There is a lot to be said about the old Indian lifestyle that is fast dissipating. For example, joint families were the norm at one point; so, kids grew up with their cousins and there was always someone around to take care of. The stress that the parents feel in a nuclear family, especially if both are working wasn’t an issue at all in those days. The kids too were emotionally much stronger as they had a lot of time to enjoy, a lot of space to move around, and a lot of support all around. However, people have to move out of homes, cities, and countries in pursuit of their dreams and careers. So, stress appears to be unavoidable in most families and people need to learn to cope with it.
This is essential as stress is the underlying cause of many diseases. Hence, as a family, it is important to practice certain measures like physical exercises, compulsory family time and downtime, etc. Practicing Yoga, meditation or Zumba, or any other destressing activity is important. Having open discussions to sort out issues also helps. If the family consists of only two seniors with children away, then it is all the more important to have a close social connection.
We are what we eat
Ayurveda says that ‘food is our medicine’, and that is why it is a holistic approach to treating people. If you eat right, you cannot just treat diseases, but also prevent them. However, with growing pollution in our environment, this saying may not be fully applicable as such. The air, water, and soil pollution as well as food adulteration may still give us a few health issues. Using water filters to ensure safe drinking water is an essential measure.
However, it is important to focus on diet to ensure that our body gets all that it needs in a balanced way. If we can grow our veggies, if not fruits, nothing like it. If not, we try and get the best possible and wash them well. Perhaps, one other reason why our elders were healthy was that most of them grew their food as well.
Also, it is essential to eat all seasonal fruits and veggies to gain maximum benefit. So, it’s not just apples; many fruits like pomegranate, banana, mango, jackfruit, melons, litchis, custard apple, etc. are nutrient powerhouses as well. Though not so common in India, even the various berries that we get, are quite nutritious and good for health. We have earlier mentioned superfoods that are to be included in the diet for the various health benefits. Some foods which are not native to India like broccoli, Kiwi Fruit, etc. are also good for health. Additionally, in India, we have access to a whole host of dry fruits, that are equally healthy.
Importance of greenery
Especially for those living in urban areas and apartments, surrounding yourself with some amount of greenery is important. If you have little space on your balcony, you should consider having a few pots. Gardening is a wonderful destressing activity and the greenery helps soothe your nerves. The plants and flowers help heal and reduce anxiety and also provide happiness. For example, when they flower or if you grow veggies and harvest, it is an inexplicable feeling of happiness.
Scientific evidence suggests that many plants help in improving mood, sleeping well, and even reducing the risk of developing dementia. Many plants are natural air purifiers and can help combat pollution as well. Gardening is not just a healing leisure activity it also helps with your motor skills.
If you are unable to maintain a few pots in your house, at least make sure that you have access to some greenery nearby. Take a walk to this place every day and observe the greenery and the various colours. Just watching nature can also bring down our anxiety levels and give us a strange sense of happiness.
Read on for Part 2 of this series.