Tag Archives for " brain "
When analyzing brain foods, one of the most important things to look at besides toxicity (foreign to our bodies, i.e. artificial) is the glycemic index. If you don’t already know how important it is, start paying attention to the glycemic index (GI) of food and observe how you feel in relation to this one marker. Our brain thrives on a steady stream of glucose in the blood stream and when that steady stream isn’t so steady, the brain (as well as the rest of the body) suffers with irritability, depression and sluggishness to name a few.
Pastas, breads, and white potatoes are the worst offenders when it comes to upsetting the blood sugar and depleting nutrients.
Before we get to the good foods, check out some more of the “bad” ones. Artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, sugary foods and drinks, hydrogenated fats, nicotine, and alcohol are the worst “non-food” foods. The sad news about alcohol is that it doesn’t even need to be ingested…it kills brain cells if it is just smelled!
Did you know that both the Air Force’s magazine, “Flying Safety”, and the Navy’s magazine, “Navy Physiology”, published articles warning about the many dangers of aspartame? The methanol in aspartame is found to build up in the tissues causing a potential cumulative effect. It is also reported to increase the likelihood of birth defects. Pilots have linked the use of aspartame to seizures and vertigo and most flight agencies warn against its usage. It is also reported to disrupt the chemical makeup of the brain and lower the levels of serotonin – which could affect sleep, appetite, mood, and behavior. Aspartame (and other chemical sweeteners) disrupt amino acid metabolism, hormonal equilibrium and nerve functions, to name a few. Read more here.
So that’s the bad news, and although there is MUCH more to be said about those “non-foods”, that is a subject for a whole other post. Here are some foods that you can incorporate into your diet that will enhance your cognitive function and decrease brain fog. When you eat the right foods you are able to see things more clearly, become more confident and overall add quality to your life and the life of your valuable brain through balancing your hormones, and nourishing your brain’s functions.
The top brain foods include:
Salmon and other fatty fish
Cacao – this is the raw bean. Chocolate has sugar (read about sugar above)
Green tea, especially Matcha
Acai berry and blue berry
Avocados – great fatty acids
Brewer’s yeast (great source of RNA)
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and all leafy greens
Eggs- great source of protein and readily used cholesterol (yes, the whole egg!)
Seeds and Nuts: flaxseed (freshly ground), walnuts, chia, pumpkin, etc.
Also, be sure to incorporate all of the colors that call to us from nature. Those colors, called bioflavonoids, are what gives wine and pomegranate so much value – they’re loaded with antioxidants that scavenge free radicals in the brain and in the body.
To break it down very simply: Get enough omega 3 fatty acids, plenty of protein (especially from non-meat sources), a variety of colors, and don’t forget plenty of PURE water (avoid unfiltered tap water). These are the ingredients that help people maintain a high quality of life and great mental clarity and cognitive function well into a ripe old age.
The whole idea that by simply focusing on something will actually bring more of it into your life may seem strange. However, if you play with the idea for a little while, you will quickly see what is meant by “What you focus on grows”. For an easy example, think about body builders. When they focus on building muscle, the muscles grow. Of course it takes more than just thinking about it and hoping that it will happen. When you focus on building muscle, it will probably lead you to research how to actually do it. You will probably be led to talk to people who have successfully built up their own bodies, you will likely research the topic on the internet and you may hire a personal trainer to direct you and speed up the process. Focusing doesn’t mean staring. Focusing doesn’t mean magically creating. Focusing means devoting significant amounts of time and energy to accomplish your goals.
Really, we are talking about manifesting what we want out of life (think: law of attraction), whether it be health, happiness, love, intelligence, money, fame, or combinations of different things. When we want something in life, we can acquire it. And as the old addage goes, don’t worry about the “how”, that will come.
When we focus on a health issue in the wrong way, it grows in the wrong way. What does that mean? Well, when you focus on your shoulder pain or your migraines using a language such as “why does this pain have to be so bad” or “why does it have to happen to me?” you actually play the role of a victim disallowing yourself the ability to gain control of the situation. Thinking of how bad the pain hurts and how much you hate it is not something that I recommend. Think about it this way, when you hate something that is part of you or your own body, you are hating a part of yourself. When you hate a part of yourself, you are trying to deny that piece of your Whole Being from love and attention. Stereotypically, men will “hate” a health issue or pain by ignoring it, and in general women will ignore it also but in a different way. Men ignore their symptoms by “being a man” about it and not complaining and not worrying about it. Women tend to ignore their symptoms by continuing to say “Yes” to people and situations they know they should say “NO” to, just not listening to their body when it says (or screams) “Slow Down”.
So, try this for your health complaint or pain…Think about the situation in a solution oriented way opposed to a problem oriented way. We are so used to looking at the problems of our world and we don’t have enough time or pay enough attention to creating solutions. The next time that you have a problem, first of all don’t deny it. Give it some credibility and let yourself believe if only for a moment that it is actually there for a reason and that it is actually NOT an accident. When you think about things in this way, you cross the bridge of being someone who is a victim into someone who is a Powerful Co-Creator of his/her reality! If you don’t think that this style of thought is for you or that it would really make a difference, try it out before dismissing it. I can tell you that living in a left brain dominated society has made us imbalanced and has led to us missing out on many experiences for ourselves. The right brain is the part of ourselves that is not linear and logical. Let it take up its role in our reality by starting to shift from problem oriented to solution oriented. I’m sure that you will be happy that you did. Leave your comments below to share how this approach has changed your circumstances.
Go ahead, log into Netflix. See there the rows of recommendations? That’s not magic: that’s an algorithm. Netflix “remembers” what you watched, how you rated past films, then correlates that data against your viewing habits. A blink-of-an-eye search of the media database then produces “recommendations” based on your preferences. That’s why documentaries about hermetic hoarders never pop up on your screen – Netflix knows you’re not into that (who is?). So the algorithm saves precious hours of your life and spares your eyeballs having to scroll through the 100,000 available titles. Thanks, Netflix!
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Now would it be nice if real life were the same way?
We are, most of us, bombarded by noise—someone needs something right now, there’s pinging coming from your Twitter feed, your chatbox, your phone, your boss, your kids, your dog, your broken whatever. In the age of “big data”, the sheer volume of information and the choices that result from it can literally overtax the human brain. Modern life needs a Netflix-like algorithm that filters out the noise and breaks the daily barrage on our senses. But that’s not easy, particularly because all that environmental stimulation can makes thinking very much like the unsorted Netflix backlist, combined with Amazon’s, a gazillion Redboxes, and the tall stack of DVDs you bought in the aughts that you never watch anymore. Then imagine sorting through all that while in a bouncy-ball house with twenty sugared-up six-year-olds. That’s the information age. But outside of Netflix, there is a way you can help your brain to focus on the stuff that matters. Shut out the noise. Extensive research over decades suggests neurofeedback training is particularly well suited for this purpose. Effective neurofeedback systemsaid with focus, presence and just generally getting a grip on your train of thought. It can help you tone down the static, make thinking an exercise in efficiency. Naturally streamline the thought process and tune out distractions.
So what is neurofeedback training?
Dynamical neurofeedback technology –the kind developed by NeurOptimal Neurofeedback – essentially leverages your brain’s preference for efficiency. Their neurofeedback machine uses sensors to track relevant changes in the brain’s electrical patterns and then feeds that information back to the brain. Your brain – which naturally wants to be awesome – creates it’s own “algorithm” based on the incoming data. It’s sort of like when you give that documentary on knuckle ball pitchers a 4 star rating. Netflix responds by showing you similar films. The neurofeedback software “shows” your brain it’s own activity. Your brain gives it a thumbs up/thumbs down, then adjusts accordingly. Kind of like an algorithm.
For example, anxiety or obsessive/compulsive thinking is not only unpleasant and stressful; from your brain’s perspective, it is inherently inefficient. Why waste time in that type of neurological loop when you could be doing other, more productive tasks instead?
Now this is exactly how the information age should work: leverage that steady stream of incoming information to improve how you act, feel and think instead of being overwhelmed by it. In the case of neurofeedback training, this is accomplished in the blink of an eye as your brain – aided by a neurofeedback machine – adjusts its “algorithm” to basically become better at everything. The result is improved focus and less distraction. More incisive thought process and clearer cognition. Less anxiety/depression and more joy. Anything less is a waste of time – so says your brain.
Go log into Netflix again. Imagine your brain working this efficiently. Now you have a sense of how your brain ‘feels’ on neurofeedback. And it’s almost as fun. Without the hoarder documentaries.
Silicon Valley investor, computer security expert, and entrepreneur who spent 15 years and $300,000 to hack his own biology. He upgraded his brain by >20 IQ points, lowered his biological age, and lost 100 lbs without using calories or exercise.
Dave interviewed Dr. Valdeane Brown, co-founder of Zengar Institute and developer of NeurOptimal®. The result is a terrific podcast called Neurofeedback Technology – Best Biohack Yet. That title is pretty impressive – “best biohack yet” – given that’s been Dave’s mission for 15 years.
If you’re interested in learning more about neurofeedback or considering it for yourself, listen to this podcast. You won’t be disappointed.
Please feel free to comment here on the blog or email me with questions.
Michael Meuth L.Ac. ACN
In 2012 more soldiers took their own life than were killed in the Afghanistan combat and it is estimated that 20% of our 1.7 million warriors that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD. By now it is apparent that we must do more to support our troops, and much more CAN be done. A fantastic starting place would be to limit tours to one or two at the most so that the chances of encountering a traumatic event or sight are reduced. Combat fatigue also plays a roll in the emotional burden that goes along with being away from home, being in a foreign and violent land, grueling work schedules and massive physical and emotional demands. It is in my humble opinion that soldiers should not be required to serve so many tours, especially since new research using functional MRI machines are showing us that even emotional trauma affects the amygdala, anterior insula, and the precuneus.
Of course the brain is only doing what it was designed to do. When experiencing a traumatic event, the brain re-wires itself in order to keep you alive. This is true for big and small traumatic events alike since the brain is trying to adapt and survive. The brain even re-wires itself (for better or worse) when there is only a perceived threat to life or ego. So for example, when a child is made fun of at school because her shoes have a scuff mark or his hair is sticking up, a trauma print is created in the brain. Trauma prints exist so that we survive (physically or emotionally) stressful situations. Of course the bigger the trauma, the bigger effect it has on us and our neural circuitry.
We need to support those who are injured in war, whether that be a bodily injury, lost limb, traumatic brain injury or PTSD. Whether you believe that we should be going to war with this or that country is irrelevant but what really matters is that the people are getting needlessly injured in the process. Shake a veteran’s hand today and if they are suffering, please let them know about the amazing benefits advanced neurofeedback can provide. If they contact us this week, we are happy to start them off with 50% off a BrainSpa (mini-intensive) package which is three one hour sessions of realtime brainwave balancing that helps to override trauma prints in the brain. If they want to do more we offer 15% off any additional sessions, always. The BrainSpa sessions are tailored for overall mood enhancement, to help de-stress and relax, and also serve to enhance focus and sleep. Brainwave Intensives work the same but can get to older and more “stubborn” brain patters. Intensives can be added on later if desired. We work with all sorts of issues. Please call us today (or by the end of the week at the latest) to have your questions answered and to take advantage of this Veteran’s day offer. By the way, you need not have a traumatic brain injury or PTSD to get this discount… this offer is for all active duty and retired military.
Balancing your brainwaves enhances the way your brain communicates with your body, which quiets the messages demanding more nicotine, alcohol, etc. When the neural networks fire with more efficiency, the addiction process is thereby disrupted. Brain training with Brainwave Optimization can eliminate most cravings, but not the habit. You always have a choice whether to smoke, drink, etc. or not. Our modality allows you to see and feel the reality of your choice much more easily, and brings a sense of balance when the thought crosses your mind, and that balance gives you a much greater opportunity to choose not to indulge.
Here are some important tools to incorporate in any addiction program:
Do not forget that you are human and that you should forgive yourself. Most people live day to day mentally beating themselves up and saying things to themselves that they would never utter towards another person. Stop that insanity, forgive yourself and then proceed!
The decision to quit can allow uncomfortable emotions to arise. These are part of you, so embrace them. Ask someone who is available to you in the next few weeks to act as your sounding board while also providing encouragement when you need it, and always be honest with your support person.
Afformations are solution-oriented questions that you ask yourself. Ask questions such as “Why is it that my thoughts are consumed less and less everyday by smoking/drinking/etc.?”, “Why do I feel more centered in body, mind and soul since quitting?”, or “Why am I thinking more clearly than ever before?”. Afformations focus on positives and are designed to stimulate the mind to look for answers, therefore solidifying the newly imprinted patterns and neural networks in the brain, which change subconscious thoughts and behaviors.
Set up contracts with other smokers/drinkers/etc. to refrain from indulging around you and to support you in your goals. When you make positive changes in your life, it will often leave others on the defensive about their own decisions. Don’t let this weigh you down and encourage them not to be weighed down; guilt is toxic in itself. When possible, stay away from those that do indulge (at least at first) until you feel more confident with your new health status.
Research has shown that being dehydrated causes cravings. Sip water or herbal tea frequently throughout the day. Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces every day. Example: If you weigh 160 lb. you should drink at least 80 oz. of H2O daily.
Refrain from Drinking Coffee (I know, I know)
Research also shows that coffee causes cravings and dehydrates the body. Try Yerba Mate if you need that boost in the mornings.
Eat a lot of carrots, celery and other vegetables throughout the next few days, as these will help restore the bodies nutrients. Avoiding candy is wise; sugar upsets blood sugar levels, which can aggravate smoking-withdrawal symptoms. Sugar substitutes such as NutraSweet are sweeter than sugar, are often known carcinogens and cause further sweet cravings/addictions. Carbohydrates should also be minimalized as they too create blood sugar imbalances (that last longer than those caused by candy). Drinking fresh squeezed vegetable and berry juices is super cleansing and very hydrating.
Cravings feel like they will last forever but actually fade in two minutes. Plan what you will do during a craving. Examples: Take your herbs; use your afformation exercises; breathe deeply; walk to another place; sing a song; dance; jog; call your support person.
There may be a lot of triggers for you to desire another smoke/drink/etc. Indulging can act very strongly as a shield to insulate uncomfortable feelings and situations. For example, a new nonsmoker can feel vulnerable and confused when trying to handle a stressful situation. Other modalities can help too, such as acupuncture, Qi Gong or Tai Chi movements to help smooth out irritability and other stressful emotions.
Integrity & Determinism
We CAN stop! And we CAN start manifesting our own creations by being Certain of our strengths and Centered in our approach, which leads us with Integrity to Peace of Mind.
Now that an incredible number of Iraqi war veterans are back home, how are we going to help them integrate back into society? I recently posted a link to a video on facebook stating the cold hard fact that there are more suicides in our veteran population than there were total combat deaths. Wow! You may want to read that again because it is really important…there were more suicides among recent war vets than all combat deaths. Obviously this is a problem of enormous scale! I won’t get too political here, but will stick to the facts and what I see as the solutions.
Okay, so the situation is as follows…
All of our soldiers that resided in Iraq are home, or are coming home by the last day of this year, 2011. They are coming home to a very high unemployment rate and an almost unbelievable unemployment rate among other veterans. If you haven’t heard, here are the statistics according to Dan Beucke at www.businessweek.com:
Veterans 18-24 years old had a 30.4% jobless rate in October and black veterans of the same age had a rate of 48%. This is unbelievable isn’t it? This problem of course just compounds the other problems so many vets have coming back into civilian life with all they have seen and experienced. If you have been paying attention at all, you know that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is also at record highs among our soldiers. Even among those that did not see or directly experience a dangerous or near death situation, PTSD like symptoms and a battlefield mentality still dominate in the safe circumstances of everyday life of many soldiers. For instance, one of my acupuncture patients is a veteran and her husband just came back from Iraq last week. As he sat in the waiting room of my office I talked with him for a few minutes about the politics of war (his choice of conversation not mine). On the following visit, my patient told me that he did not like coming to my office because it has two doors and he had to sit with his back to one of them. This gave me insight into something that I hadn’t really ever thought about, which was that even if you have not experienced first hand violence in a wartime situation, you are still ready to experience it. Your nervous system has been changed so that you are primed and ready for any situation that may occur, because it very well may. It is a survival mechanism that the brain understands very well and restructures to meet the needs that it sees.
A relative of mine also came back from both Iraq and Afghanistan with back pain that had emotional ties to it. In a story that she shared she mentioned how the sounds of bombs all around were terrifying to the point of causing involuntary body movements and then inability to actually fall asleep and rest. She did not experience any direct combat either, but surely experienced the effects of all that was going on around her.
Having this conversation with my patient about her husband (who by the way didn’t seem uncomfortable at all in my waiting room) and with my relative, I realized that ALL veterans of the recent wars are very likely to have complicated or subtle trauma prints when coming back stateside. Trauma prints are the rewiring of neuro networks in the brain in order to “save one’s life” regardless if that trauma or threat is real or perceived. And once these neuro-pathways are “set” (think concrete) by these life changing experiences, they are likely permanent structural changes. The problem arises when these networks are inhibiting a persons happiness (PTSD for example).
I feel that our job is to give them as much love and understanding as humanly possible, and more when called for. We need to be better at welcoming them home and showing them that we are here if they need us. Don’t be fooled, the simple act of compassionate listening can do a lot, yet for many soldiers the wounds are just too deep. Regardless of whether or not you were for or against the war, our veterans need to be cared for, and quite frankly it just isn’t happening.
“Without a favorable internal climate, a person’s thinking is likely to drive them crazy… The right starting point for creative thinking and acting is who we divinely are, and a refusal to be anything other than that. I won’t be untrue to myself.” -David Karchere