Wellness Secrets of the Past
Modern medical science has made great strides in improving our health and well-being. It seems like we learn something new every day. But for all the benefits of life in the twenty-first century, there are some things that our grandparents knew better than we do about living a healthy, happy life.
A Home cooked Meal
Today, speed and convenience often rule our food choices. We pick up breakfast at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, heat a prepared microwave meal for lunch, and go through a fast-food drive-thru for dinner. Our grandparents didn’t have those options—and they were better off for it. They prepared their meals at home with whole foods and then sat together at the table to eat, without the distractions of the television or a computer. The result: They ate less and ate more real, whole foods.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise
Ben Franklin was on to something. Getting enough sleep—about seven hours a night for adults—is essential to our health. Poor sleep habits can weaken your immune system and contribute to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Moreover, studies have found that early risers tend to be more successful. They are more proactive and persistent, and they procrastinate less. An early rise can also reduce stress by giving you time to prepare for the day, including having a healthy, sit-down breakfast.
With the Internet, social media, and 24/7 news channels, it can seem like we’re more connected than ever. Yet, in real life, many of us are more isolated and lonelier than ever. Researchers are sounding the alarm of the health effects of social isolation, including greater risk of an early death. Robert Putnam, in his book Bowling Alone, noted that our grandparents were much more likely to be involved in the community through church, social clubs, and civic organizations. These real-life connections can reduce stress, guard against depression, and increase physical activity.
As the Garden Grows
Whether tending a victory garden during World War II or managing a whole farm, our grandparents were much more likely to grow at least some of their own food than we are today. As a result, they had access to fresh, usually organic, food. Gardening also kept them physically active and got them out into the fresh air and sunshine. The health benefits of gardening include lowered stress, a strengthened immune system, reduced depression, and even a lower risk of dementia in later life.