Top 3 Ways Catholics Can Start Improving Their Mental And Physical Health Today

by Faith & Life, Self-Knowledge

Health and soundness are better than all gold,

and a robust body than countless riches.

Sirach 30:15

St. Paul made clear that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16 -1 7; 6:19 – 20), and St. Thomas elaborated in his great Summa Theologica that Christ’s command to love God with all that we are and our neighbor as ourself, means that we are commanded to love our bodies as well as our souls. In our modern time of so much material prosperity, but so much sickness in mind, body, and spirit, Catholics would do well to heed some simple principles that can immediately help us reclaim healthy, sound, and robust bodily temples. Here, I’ll offer what may be the top three.

3 Tips For Catholics To Reclaim Healthy Bodily Temples

1. Eat Real Food!

Check out God’s mouth-watering recipe for bread sometime in Ezekiel 4:9. It just takes wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, spelt, and, I suppose, water. Then compare it sometime to the ingredient list of any of our best-selling mass-produced bread. Now you are going to have to check your cupboards for the calcium propanoate, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, sorbic acid, and vegetable monoglycerides, along with other ingredients more easily found in a chemistry lab than sprouting forth from the soil. 

The skyrocketing rise in modern chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, and non-alcoholic liver disease in both children and adults has coincided with a meteoric rise in our consumption of overly processed foods that bear very little likeness to foods as God made them. A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that by 2018 over 67% of the food American children and adolescents eat in a day was of the ultra-processed variety. Such foods are notorious for added sugars and factory-produced seed oils, along with a number of suspect lab-created chemicals that can leave us perpetually undernourished, hungry, and tired.  A simple way to improve our health through diet is to be sure to feed ourselves and our children predominantly the simple “real foods” that our great-grandparents ate, foods as some say come “from a farm, forest, or field, not a factory,” or “foods without a label or barcode.” If I might add to the catchphrase list, “foods invented by God, not man.”  

2. Use Your Muscles! 

When I was involved in research and assessment of Alzheimer’s Disease in the 1990s, while there were no guarantees regarding how to prevent it, study after study suggested that one of the best maxims to retain our cognitive powers was “Use it or lose it!” People who practiced both rigorous mental and physical activity through their lifetimes we most likely to remain mentally and physically fit and disease-free. A simple recommendation that relatively healthy people can implement today (with their physician’s approval) is to start using their muscles, just about every day. For some, this might include endurance exercise like running, biking, swimming, of the use of aerobic exercise machines. For others, this might include simply walking at a comfortable pace. Indeed, at times, the normal physical activities of living, from mowing the lawn, to washing the car, to walking the dog, or vacuuming the floors can also help us counteract the ill effect of letting our muscles just sit there all day long. Also, if health permits, I would recommend at least one strength-building workout per week of one-half hour or less, consisting of free weights, machines, cables, or bodyweight exercises, since maintenance of muscle mass becomes increasingly important as we grow older, and a little dose of the right strength-training medicine can go a long way. 

3.“Eat” Good Books on Health, Faith, and Fitness!

When God directed Ezekiel to eat a holy scroll, he found it “as sweet as honey” (Ezek. 3:3). In St. Jerome’s Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel, he said that when we chew on and digest the words of God “our bellies our belly is filled spiritual and our gut is satisfied.” My last suggestion for Catholics to start improving their health today is to “chew on and digest” so to speak, Catholic and scientific books that address spiritual, mental, and physical health. (In my newest book I devote an entire chapter in the appendices to listing dozens of such resources.) Catholic readers may find them as sweet as honey (and without all the fructose). Further, they may show us how and inspire us to keep healthy and holy our bodily temples of the Holy Spirit. 

Learn More About Keeping Your Catholic Body Healthy

Kevin Vost, Psy.D. is the author of You Are That Temple! A Catholic Guide to Health and Holiness (Sophia Institute Press, 2022).

“Our culture is facing a pandemic of obesity and a marked rise in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s dementia. The problem is physiological, of course – but it is also spiritual. Here is the book that will teach you how to attain optimal health and true harmony of mind, body, and spirit within the context of a well-rounded devotional life.

In his straightforward and engaging style, Dr. Kevin Vost reflects upon teachings from Scripture and St. Thomas Aquinas on the sacredness of the human body. You will learn the degree to which sins such as gluttony and sloth contribute to physical and spiritual health problems. You will also discover how factors such as genetics and hormones impact body weight.

Through Vost’s research, you will come to understand the importance of eating the real food that God created for us. Vost shares how he lost weight, kept it off, and lowered his blood pressure by doing so. He also includes other smart health suggestions and some sample recipes, including delicious vegetable dishes and smoothies.

This book uniquely integrates Christian wisdom with good nutrition, including the roles of carbohydrates, fats, proteins – and prayer. Additionally, Vost explains how to strengthen your body through weight training and the benefits of machine training to build muscles. He provides alternative fitness routines for those with joint pain who are unable to endure high-impact lifting, and he offers general suggestions on staying physically active for people of all ages.

Purchase HERE!

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