The Link Between Physical and Mental Health

The Link Between Physical and Mental Health

If you think your mind and body don’t affect each another, think again.

It’s easy to think of our minds and our bodies as being completely separate. But nothing could be further from the truth—they are intricately connected to each other.

The fact is that people with chronic health conditions are at a higher than normal risk of developing a mental health condition. Those with mental health conditions are also at a higher than normal risk of developing serious physical conditions. In many cases, it becomes a vicious cycle that’s hard to escape. A serious health condition can lead to depression and anxiety, which can worsen the health condition or lead to others, which can increase the person’s depression and anxiety symptoms, and so on.

There are a number of ways in which our mental health can affect our physical health and vice-versa. Here are some examples:

  • A mental health condition can make it harder for you to deal with a chronic illness. If you’re depressed or anxious, you might not have the energy or motivation to follow up with the recommended treatment for your health issue. Without proper treatment, your physical condition could get worse, which might lead to increased depression or anxiety. On the flip side, being diagnosed with a serious illness can cause you to develop a mental health condition in the first place.
  • A mental health condition might cause disruptions in sleep patterns. Sleep is essential for good health. It’s meant to help us recharge our brains and our bodies. Regularly sleeping less than 7 hours per night increases your risk of serious health conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Sleeping too much can cause the same health issues, plus headaches and back pain. Not getting enough quality sleep can also affect your immune system, which makes it difficult for you to ward off illnesses.
  • A person experiencing a serious physical illness, injury or mental health condition might engage in dangerous behaviors. Some people turn to alcohol, drugs or cigarette smoking as a way to cope with both physical and mental health issues. Drinking too much alcohol can contribute to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, liver disease, pancreatic disease and cancer. Illegal drugs take a heavy toll on the heart and nervous system, which can lead to seizures, hemorrhaging and heart attacks. Cigarette smoking is a proven risk factor for asthma, emphysema, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
  • People with mental illness are less likely to seek routine medical care, such as annual physicals. Preventive visits include essential screenings—like blood pressure, weight and cholesterol checks, among others—which help detect and manage health conditions. It is much easier to manage health conditions that are caught early and are well-controlled compared to when routine medical care has been skipped or recommendations ignored.

Copyright 2021 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. 
Health eCooking® is a registered trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Cook eKitchen™ is a designated trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein without the express approval of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. is strictly prohibited.

Date Last Reviewed: August 16, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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No information provided by Baldwin Publishing, Inc. in any article is a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical condition. Baldwin Publishing, Inc. strongly suggests that you use this information in consultation with your doctor or other health professional. Use or viewing of any Baldwin Publishing, Inc. article signifies your understanding and agreement to the disclaimer and acceptance of these terms of use.

 

Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

You have the power to improve your numbers with these healthier habits.

Recently updated cholesterol guidelines by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association may result in millions more Americans being prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drugs than ever before.

But statins aren’t the only option when it comes to a healthier heart. Some people can manage high cholesterol with lifestyle changes alone. Others may still need medication to get their numbers where they need to be, but by adopting healthier habits, it may be possible to take a lower dosage.

You have the power to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise your good cholesterol (HDL) with a few lifestyle changes. Why not give these a try?

  • Get moving. Buy a fitness tracker or pedometer and aim to walk at least 10,000 steps every day. You don’t have to do all your daily activity in one spurt. Extra steps during the day add up, so take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther from your destination or walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email.
  • Change what’s on your plate. Reduce saturated fat and eliminate trans fats from your diet. Avoid fried and processed foods and limit full-fat dairy and fatty cuts of meat. Reduce the amount of sugar you eat and instead choose foods high in fiber and full of antioxidants. Fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes and lean sources of protein.
  • Lose weight. If you’re overweight, losing even a small amount of weight can lower your LDL numbers. Come up with a plan that allows you to not only drop a few pounds, but keep them off.
  • Stop smoking. Here’s another good reason to quit. Smoking can raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol). Within a year of quitting, participants from one study saw HDL levels rise 5%.
  • Relax. Downshifting is crucial to good health and can keep cholesterol levels in check. Take some time each day to slow down, chill out and have some fun. Unplug from mobile devices. Laugh. Stress hormones can increase cholesterol and pave the way for heart disease.

With all of these lifestyle adjustments, start slow and adapt your habits over time. In order to positively affect your heart health, you have to be able to live with the changes you make for the long term.

Copyright 2016-2021 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. 
Health eCooking® is a registered trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Cook eKitchen™ is a designated trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein without the express approval of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. is strictly prohibited.

Date Last Reviewed: January 3, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Elizabeth Kaback, MD

Learn more about Baldwin Publishing Inc. editorial policyprivacy policy, ADA compliance and sponsorship policy.

No information provided by Baldwin Publishing, Inc. in any article is a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical condition. Baldwin Publishing, Inc. strongly suggests that you use this information in consultation with your doctor or other health professional. Use or viewing of any Baldwin Publishing, Inc. article signifies your understanding and agreement to the disclaimer and acceptance of these terms of use.