Any positive change requires retraining the brain. Today, there are programs to help rewire thinking for better focus, appropriate behaviors for special needs kids, sleep, walking, lose cravings, quit smoking, and about everything in between. With few exceptions, most of these programs focus on either the specific behavior modification methods OR nutrition for brain health, but not both. In my experience, retraining has better long term results when whole brain health and whole life possibility is taken into account. What would that look like?
Mood and Food = Brain Health
Physiology and Physics both have an impact on Brain health. What you eat feeds or toxifies the brain, helping or hurting physical brain function. How you think in the moment – positively or negatively – also impacts short and long-term physical brain health. But How you Imagine Life Will Be ALSO creates tendencies for health or disease over time.
Retraining the brain requires a combination of Whole Thinking and Whole Foods. Whole thinking takes the totality of your non-food life into account; your primary food. It asks the question: what are you feeding your existence now in terms of community, hobbies, people, home, work, finances…..everything. When primary food, one of these areas, is out of whack, stress results and the brain and body are impacted negatively.
Eating whole foods as nature made them is generally what is referred to as clean eating; making sure you eat whole, unprocessed foods that were meant to keep your body/brain in balance. Both Wholesome thoughts and wholesome foods contribute to brain health, and ultimately to training your brain in a positive direction.
Given life contains many opportunities to eat fast foods and fast thoughts, a simple strategy for brain health just makes sense, and is necessary to get through life feeling alive.
A Healthy Gut is a Healthy Brain
The health of the body plays a huge role in brain health because – the brain exists WITHIN THE BODY. As I state in Sugar + Stress = Sick, the body and mind are NOT separate. The body contains the brain. Whatever impacts one, impacts the other. It’s curious that people imagine the body separate from the brain, isn’t it?
Clean nutrition in whole food helps remove toxins, promotes balance in the body, which again….includes the brain, and actually feeds and supports brain cells. Simply put, your environment and the food you eat either nourishes and cleans, or toxifies the body/brain.
Focusing on food for the moment, there’s plenty of evidence showing a direct connection between toxins in food and reactions in the brain. As joint study conducted by University of California at Davis and Los Angeles1 points out, “Contaminants get into our food in a variety of ways….They can be chemicals that have nothing to do with the food or byproducts from processing.” “Even relatively low exposures can greatly increase the risk of cancer or neurological impairment.”
According to an article in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Blog2, Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression. The article goes on to say that, “If your brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition, or if free radicals or damaging inflammatory cells are circulating within the brain’s enclosed space, further contributing to brain tissue injury, consequences are to be expected.”
Eating clean means eating whole foods as nature made them, leaving out processed foods like sugar, most dairy, and even much of our current toxic fertilizer-laden grain supply. It also means cooking them in clean healthy fats and in ways that don’t kill all the nutrients in the food (grilling instead of deep frying). Consistently eating clean food and pure water helps remove toxins, restore or maintain brain balance, clear thinking, and resilient mood. There’s also evidence that eating a variety of whole foods, and eating organic (or free range, grass-fed, wild caught, hormone free) foods, lessons the toxic load of contaminates that naturally occur in whole foods.
Resting Stress Supports Brain Balance
Food = Mood, but Mood Makes Health, or not. For example: the stress of Carrie Fisher’s death followed closely by her mother, Debbie Reynold’s death. Or, a heart attack after a traumatic event, or a suicide following chronic stress and depression.
Chronic stress impacts brain and body health long term. The ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study confirms this. Conducted by the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention3, this long-term health study concluded that certain difficult early childhood exposures contribute to shortening one’s life. Indeed, the more exposures you have to things like close family members with mental health issues and suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, neglect, sexual assault and domestic violence, witnessing violence regularly, and so on, the shorter life tends to be.
So, in addition to thoughts becoming your reality over time, thoughts manifest in the body as your health, or as contributors to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, pain, allergies and stroke by increasing blood sugar, robbing precious energy resources, and lowering immune.
Ultimately, Rest and Resilience = Better Health and Improved Productivity. One study suggests that the perfect formula for brain resilience and productivity in the workplace requires a 17 minutes break for every 52 minutes of work4. This may seem like a lot. But, think about how often you check out mentally when you have to work on-and-on without a break.
Physical activity in moderation supports brain balance by boosting metabolism and releasing neurotransmitters for positive mood. Yoga and walking are great as a low-impact means of achieving this. At least 20 minutes of sweat producing exercise is recommended.
Fine Tune with Specific Foods and Supplements
Many vitamins and minerals can be taken in food or supplement form to support brain health. Chief among these are:
- Omega 3 – DHA
- Boron Aspartate & Boron Citrate
- Coenzyme Q-10
- Gingko Biloba
- Huperzine A
- Ornithine Keto Glutaric Acid
More information on each of these vitamins and minerals can be found in my nutrient library http://findyouwithin.com/recipes-nutrients/nutrients/.
Foods that contain these vitamins or minerals include:
- Wild Caught Salmon recipe
- Grass fed Beef recipe
- Free Range Chicken Breast recipe
- Asparagus recipe
- Flax Seed
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Free Range Eggs
- Spinach recipe
- Cauliflower recipe
- Cabbage recipe
- Lobster recipe
Five Steps to Retrain the Brain
1. Reframe Thoughts and Belief through Physics and Faith
Let’s look at how quantum physics and neuroplasticity can combine to help retrain your brain.
- Quantum physics tells us that energy creates matter.5 According to this theory, we, and our world, become what we think and believe. Through attraction or otherwise, thought as energy creates matter. By extension, positive thoughts and beliefs creates positive patterns, and negativity, negative patterns.
- Neuroplasticity basically says that the brain is not necessarily hardwired, and change can and does occur to thoughts and behavior. Put as simply as possible: brain cells that fire together, wire together, and tend to produce the same combination of behaviors until and unless part of that wire pair re-wires itself in another direction. A life in motion tends to stay in motion, and existing wired-patterns take precedent over new patterns, until they don’t.
I’ve seen this phenomenon in my work with Special Needs children and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) survivors alike. Patterns of behavior that keep repeating and seem entrenched or even obsessive, begin to come undone with constant repetition of an alternative pattern of behaviors; throwing body on the floor and screaming when not getting one’s way becomes sitting quietly in a chair over time through strict practice of the new skill with a non-reactive “coach” or “therapist.” This is Applied Behavioral Analysis in action.
Distracting, or interrupting, a negative emotional pattern through re-positioning or redirecting attention also tends to re-balance and re-regulate emotion. Trauma Resiliency Model created by Elaine Miller Karas, for instance, trains one to focus attention to what is happening in the body when difficult emotions arise, and to further redirect attention to areas of the body that are positive or neutral until the difficult emotion diminishes. In this model, even severely traumatized Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder individuals learn to broaden attention, reframe it, and redirect it to what is positive or neutral. Ultimately, that one can see that emotion is actually temporary, heal the wound, and begin to create new, more positive realities.
Meditation, Tapping, EMDR and many other effective techniques are built around distraction, retraining, and releasing difficult emotions as a means of rebalancing the mind. Each of these creates balance that enhances one’s ability to Imagine and Believe your Way to Transformation. If your goal is to retrain away from difficult emotion, the important thing is to start and keep going until you find a method that works for you. You’ll know it when you try it.
Building beyond neuroplasticity back to quantum physics, is the idea of the law of attraction, In Wishes Fulfilled5, Dr. Wayne Dyer discusses the practice of identifying with “I AM” statements in depth as a means of imaging and ultimately living in accord with one’s “higher self.” According to Dr. Dyer, the mind itself, conscious and subconscious, has the capacity to create – and in fact does create – one’s reality. By keeping a clear picture in mind and literally feeling how it would feel to be that already (identifying with that you “are”), you set in motion creative change itself and eventually attract that reality to you. Here’s a link to a video of Nicolette, who’s healing experience is featured in Dr. Dyer’s book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7refGLpMkw
First build intention in line with your true self, then imagine and
feel yourself in that vision down to your toes with full belief that it is already true.
Keep believing it, and ACT in accord with that goal.
2. Detox and Practice Clean Eating Consistently
- Detox until homeostasis is achieved
- Move to maintenance with a broader range of clean, whole foods aimed at maintaining brain health and balanced emotions, and variety to help keep environmental toxins at lower levels
- Include low-quality foods only as often as supports your health
3. Rest Regularly and Build Resilience
Build regular waking and sleeping rest into your daily routine
- Follow the Rest Recipe of 17 minutes of rest per 52 minutes of work as often as possible.
- Take natural sleep seriously:
- Go to bed when tired
- Try to wake naturally instead of to an alarm
- Turn off electronics 2 hours before bed
- Take bed and bedding seriously for comfort and support
- Engage in calming, creative, meditative, and positive attracting activities
- Ask your sub-conscious to focus on the tools you need to create your bright future
- If needed, use a natural sleep aid like NightKap: http://www.nightkap.com/.
- Engage in a regular resilience routine
- Listen or Read to engage the brain and are compatible with the higher purpose you imagine
- Know and practice resilience Help Now Exercises so you are prepared for unexpected situations that tend to create high stress for you
- If you are regularly dis-regulated with emotions, work with a coach to get to balance using clean approaches as much as possible
- There are more naturally beneficial techniques than ever to promote brain balance: body based CRM, CST, Tapping, Hypnotherapy, etc. Find something that works to distract your attention to positive end and away from difficulty
- Physical Resilience: keep up with minimal exercise.
4. Fine Tune with Supplements
Use the list of supplements and foods above to focus your supplemental brain health regimen.
5. Commit long-term.
It takes an average of 6 months for any new “habit” to take hold in the brain. And even then, the new habit needs regular tending.
Do it, and stick with it. And hey, most people need a little help or support making retraining the brain. Find a coach or therapist with great experience in the approach you wish to explore, and keep looking if the first doesn’t feel like a good fit. You’ll be guided to the one who’s right for you.
If you’re inspired to start eating clean right now, here’s a free 10-Day Cleanse to get you started: 10-Day 3S Cleanse
1 Eva Selhub, M.D., “Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food,” Harvard Health Blog, November 16, 2005. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626
2 Irva Hertz-Picciotto, “Study finds high exposure to food-borne toxins,” UC Davis Newsroom, November 13, 2012. https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/publish/news/newsroom/7190
3 Vincent J. Felitti, M.D., FACP et al. “Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 1998, Volume 14, pages 245–258. http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(98)00017-8/abstract
4 Derek Thompson. “A Formula for Perfect Productivity: Work for 52 Minutes, Break for 17.” The Atlantic. Business Section. September 17, 2014. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/science-tells-you-how-many-minutes-should-you-take-a-break-for-work-17/380369/
5 Dr. Wayne Dyer. “Wishes Fulfilled: Manifesting the Art of Manifesting.” Hay House. March 16, 2012. https://www.amazon.com/Wishes-Fulfilled-Mastering-Art-Manifesting/dp/B007L2OIAS/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518409230&sr=1-3