The human mind functions both as intellect and consciousness. Primarily, people associate the mind with the mental faculty of thinking, or processing information, problem solving, and the like. The mind also encompasses memory, emotion, perception, and imagination.
From a health perspective, the focus is on the brain and brain health. For infants and children, proper brain development is key. Good, balanced nutrition and healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, or omega-3s—whether from foods such as fatty fish and flaxseed or from supplements like fish oil—support brain development and may help with disorders such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) as well as alleviate depression at any age.
As people age, concerns about problems with memory and cognitive function increase. Up to 5 percent of the world’s population is affected by Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Experts recommend the following healthy lifestyle choices to help keep thinking focused and memory sharp. Avoid chemicals in food, water, and products you use at home; eat fresh fruits and vegetables; drink lots of filtered water and green tea; eat choline-rich eggs; exercise regularly; meditate. Recommended supplements include fish oil, alpha-lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine; phosphatidyl serine (PS); curcumin (from turmeric); and B vitamins. Experts also recommend doing mind exercises such as learning a new hobby, language, or musical instrument, or doing challenging puzzles.
Depression is a disorder reflecting a sad or irritable mood beyond usual sadness or grief. Depression affects not only mood, but also can change bodily functions such as eating, sleeping, and libido, and it can raise risks for developing other health problems. An estimated 19 million Americans suffer from major or chronic depression. Healthy lifestyle choices can alleviate depression; recommended supplements include folate (vitamin B9), 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan), SAM-e (S-Adenosinemethionine), tryptophan, selenium, inositol, fish oil, and vitamin C.
The mind-body connection is another popular concept related to individual health, whereby the mind is believed to influence individuals’ health, helping make a person healthier or sicker, depending on conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions. Studies have shown regular meditation can change the brains physical structure. Other examples might include the placebo effect and studies that show hospital patients recover more quickly when their windows open onto nature as opposed to a city.