Are you thinking the Wild West? No, I’m talking about the brain. We know so much and yet so little about this vital organ. I seem to be flooded with information lately (two podcasts, a webinar, and an article) so I am taking my cue from the universe (I hear you!) and sharing it. Why? Because our brain health is vital to our health and happiness. What we eat affects our brain and a yoga practice supports it as well.
Dr. Datis Kharrazian, a brilliant guy who happens to focus a lot of his work in my direction (he is an expert in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) was recently featured in a webinar I watched on brain health (he’s also the recent author of a new book called, “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?”). I love what he had to say, and I will paraphrase here. He said you can either have “positive plasticity” from positive thoughts, which increases your dopamine and makes you happy more often, or you can have “negative plasticity” from negative thoughts and stress, creating even more cortisol and epinephrine, expanding the black cloud effect of stress. The brain becomes efficient in the stress response (therefore propagating negative thoughts more readily).
What does that mean for you? You’re lucky your brain has positive plasticity because there is a great likelihood you’ll be able to reprogram yourself to being more happy. Yes, really!
A recent article published by the Kripalu Center noted a Boston University study that found yoga offered “buffering effect on age-related decline” of the brain, and that yogis are better able to cope with novel situations, and engage in abstract thinking. Not to mention better mindfulness. To quote the article, “Researchers believe that yoga offers a combination of physical practice, conscious breathing, and cognitive frameworks (for example, the idea of seeing pain as “sensation,” without labeling it as “good” or “bad”) that allows us to manage and tolerate pain with more ease.”
It is no wonder yoga is starting to be “prescribed” to populations suffering with anxiety, depression, and a host of other afflictions.
Lastly, I listened this morning to a summer episode Abel James’ podcast, The Fat Burning Man. Mark Lugavere, the producer of a documentary called “Bread Head,” was the guest. I found their discussion on Alzheimers and other cognitive decline disorders and the relationship with blood sugar to be fascinating. There is a very strong correlation between the two, even giving Alzheimers the nickname “type 3 diabetes.” So there is a lot of rationale, aside from trimming our waistline, to cut down on the sugar to support our brain.
There are just countless reasons for a diet and lifestyle that include reduced sugar and more mindfulness practices such as yoga. It’s all self-care. Take baby steps, roll out your mat in your bedroom, take a pass on dessert, notice your breath. Connect with yourself, dial into your brain health, and support yourself.