Positive Energy 406 - Brain Fog
Recently I saw several episodes of a show called "Fit to Fat to Fit." The show is inspired by Drew Manning, a trainer who wasn't getting the results he wanted with his overweight clients. He decided to put on 75 pounds of fat to see what it's like to exercise when severely overweight and to feel the challenge of losing the weight to become fit once again. The show challenges fitness trainers across the U.S. to do the same. They take 4 months off from exercise and try to put on as much extra weight as they can. After they are out of shape, they work with an out of shape and overweight client to get fit together.
During the 4 months the trainers keep a video diary to document the changes they are undergoing as they lose their fit bodies. The thing that I found most fascinating was that all of the trainers began complaining about mood swings, brain fog and severe lethargy after just 3 days of poor eating and lifestyle.
Most of them documented how much they felt like just lying down on the couch and how much effort it took to go through their daily activities.
We spend so much time focusing on the cosmetic effects of what we eat, that mood, brain function and energy levels are overlooked way too often. Diet and lifestyle are vital to the function of every organ and cell of our bodies. In other words, don't spend all of your time polishing the hood of your car and never check the engine.
Imbalanced eating and lifestyle can even increase your chances of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's Disease. Those of us who have witnessed these conditions in person, know how heartbreaking it is to see someone lose the ability to live independently and connect with the people they love. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be to not recognize my surroundings or any of the faces I see.
Here are 5 principles to keep in mind for healthy brain function no matter your age:
1. Keep Physically Active.
Your brain and body are a set that work together. They develop together starting from the time you are an embryo onward. Each part of your body corresponds with a particular spot on your brain. This is called the cortical homunculus and is like a brain map of the body. Engage in movement that builds strength and flexibility (Stability and Mobility). Skip boring workouts that wear out your body and joints. Embrace movement that is varied, interesting and FUN. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about the difference between movement and exercise.
2. Social Engagement.
Spending time with people makes life more satisfying, allows you to discuss ideas, problems, current events, laugh, build community, build proper boundaries and see life through a different lens. Skip the boring conversations that you've had countless times before and be open to hearing new ideas and discussing your own thoughts on various topics that matter to you.
3. Avoid overeating and over drinking. Have you ever stuffed yourself with food? Did it make you feel alert and energized? Me neither. Most of us can remember the sluggish and dull feelings we've had in the past from overindulging in food and/or alcohol. We are made up of tubes and pathways that don't function well when blocked or overloaded. Over doing it can be compared to trying to get a drink of water from a power hose. There is such a thing as too much, even when eating healthy fare. Obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes, osteoporosis and many prescription drugs increase the risk of cognitive impairment. Whether you're caring only for yourself, your family or are taking care of an aging relative, it pays to be mindful of these factors.
4. Mental Stimulation and Curiosity. Curiosity and an active mind will keep you engaged and growing mentally.
Researchers have found curious minds have more activity in the brain's hippocampus and secrete more dopamine. This can have impact on conditions that involve low dopamine like Parkinson's disease.
Curious minds and brain function
5. Eat Lots of colorful vegetables daily. Colorful vegetables are rich in many nutrients including antioxidants that can prevent tissue damage from free radicals. This principle is very easy to test out. Add several colorful vegetables to your diet on a daily basis and you are likely to improve energy levels, bowel function and have less room to eat junk food after only a few days.
free radical damage and brain function
Causes of cognitive impairment and assessment questionnaire:
life extension magazine
As I was putting this email together, I saw something that made me laugh. This whole discussion is about how what we eat affects our moods and brain function and I saw some candy bars with various words on the wrappers. It made me think that if you want to reinforce these traits, this is the food to eat. I snapped a quick photo which you can see here:
I hope the healthy principles listed above sound like something you'd love to dive into. If so, your body will love you for embracing these principles and pay you back abundantly.
"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”- Plutarch
"Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.” - Samuel Johnson
"Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow if you keep digging."
- Marcus Aurelius
References and additional information:
mayo clinic self care
Diet modification and brain function
All the best,
Bodywork, Movement & Holistic Lifestyle Design
Want to take your health to the next level?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, let's talk about solutions.
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recommended beginner activity: Make it a point to eat at least 5 colors in vegetables everyday this week and check in with your body to see how you feel and to consider the challenges , if any, you encountered.
recommended advanced activity: If you are already eating clean and living an active life, add a healthy dose of variety. How can you mix things up a bit to add novelty to your routine? Go move in nature, learn some new dance moves, or try a fun activity that you've not yet experienced. Pick up a book or watch a documentary on something you are curious about but don't know a lot about to stoke the fires of imagination.
It's not your age, it's your lifestyle.