Healthy brain function always begins with a few simple practices. Beyond affecting the function itself, it is also important that we feed our brains the nutrients they need to be healthy. This begins with a lot of what you might have already learned about overall health and well-being, but I would like to stress some practices. that affect the brain specifically.
There are many who struggle with meeting the basic needs of their brains. Don’t let resistance to anything I offer become a reason to avoid the work. If you don’t feel motivated to do any of the nutritional practices listed here, don’t worry. Find an alternative or just skip them for now. As long as you do the practices every day, you’ll organically find your way to the brain function that creates the motivation you need. Just do what you can and let the practices take care of the rest.
When it comes to feeding the brain the nutrients it needs, there are four fundamental practices in which we must engage. This will be our focus for part three of our Phase One practice.
I want to begin this process by talking about diet, but just for a minute. I’ll start by firmly saying, “Diet alone is not the answer… ever.” Nothing external is ever as impactful as the internal functions of the body. What we feed the body is only part of the equation and has such a varied level of impact, it can never be the only solution. What works for one does not work the same for another. Everybody is different. There are general rules, but how accurately we apply these rules can be either support or detriment to our progress.
No one system is ever going to give you as much physical health as clarity, the clarity to see how what you consume affects you as an individual. This clarity will be found in neurotransmitter control, not through the application of somebody else’s diet.
With all of this said, I do want to address the subject of some dietary requirements that do support healthy brain function. The process of healing requires the production of plenty of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are how the brain communicates with the systems of the body. If you have an imbalance, it’s essential to have excess available for use in the creation of healthier homeostasis.
With this end in mind, it should be our goal to have an abundance of neurotransmitters. To do this, we need plenty of protein in our system. I recommend eating an equivalent to fifty percent of your body weight in pounds, in grams of protein per day. So, if I weigh 150 lbs., and take 50% of that, I end up with 75 lbs. So, I would eat an equivalent of 75 grams of protein each day.
This percentage may seem like a lot of protein, but it isn’t. Of course, there are meats for those who eat them, eggs and if you are vegetarian or even vegan, there are options for beans, nuts, and seeds in abundance. I fill about ninety percent of my dietary requirements with plant-based proteins. Protein-rich foods also have the fats our brains need to stay healthy. These components are critical to how our systems function. Healthy brain, healthy body.
Additional note: protein powders and drinks are a supplement. Protein supplied through these alternate methods are not guaranteed to work. It is always best to allow the body to get the nutrients it needs from food. There are plenty of seeds and milk—milk alternatives—available to add to your already existing diet. Use food everywhere you can. If you aren’t sure how to increase protein in your diet, there are multiple apps and online programs designed to help you track what you eat. There are books at the library or online where you can look up the protein levels of specific foods. It may take a bit of effort in the beginning, but the resulting outcome will make everything worth the work you put into it. It will benefit more than just your brain.
In addition to protein, I also recommend eating plenty of fiber. This aids in the digestion of the protein and is also key to the neurotransmitters produced through a healthy digestive system.
Of course, you will want to work this step, in conjunction with the other practices you are doing. Diet is not a solution, but it can be a critical component, so think of this as another practice. If you can’t imagine doing the recommended amount long term, at least try keeping to it during the early stages of the program. If you have a chemical imbalance, you need as many neurotransmitters as you can get to make the shift to something better. I’ve included a protein/exercise log in the course materials to help you notice the difference a few little adjustments can make.
A diet consisting of mostly protein, the right fats and plenty of fiber leads to a healthy, lean body, pliable mind and plenty of neurotransmitters.
I’m just going to go ahead and say it. Exercise is key to overall health and well-being, but if you just can’t get yourself to do it, there are other options available to increase blood flow to the brain. Using Phase One practices like taking a walk or stretching are great alternates to traditional exercise programs. Be creative. Using Yoga, Chi Gong or Tai Chi practices help us in a multitude of ways, but increasing our circulation is one of the most important. Dancing can do the same. There is also a lot of information out there about the health benefits of using the sauna and steam rooms at your local gym or even going to the other end of the spectrum and using ice baths.
Options to increase blood flow to the brain are everywhere, but before you do anything, get educated. Research practices and don’t do anything crazy. You don’t need to be extreme here. Just get your blood pumping once or twice a day. The practices will do the rest.
This may seem an odd thing to mention as a nutrient, but the human brain needs to be fed in a multitude of ways and there are a plethora of scientific studies proving that the strongest placebo effect available to us is human contact. Having a community of supporters in any practice is more likely to make us successful at it, which is also going to make us healthier faster. In Phase One, we need support more than ever, especially the support of people who ‘get what we’re doing.’
The method I offer is not like traditional practices. So, there are many people—including medical professionals—who won’t understand the approach. If you are seeing a professional, try sharing your practices with them, and your goals. If they understand the concept, they might be able to help you through any rough patches. If you don’t have a strong support system in your own life, utilize our online resources. Most of them are free and it’s a good way to stay engaged in the practice while gaining a connection to people with a deeper understanding of how the processes work.
We may also offer free Meetup Groups in your area. If we don’t, we do have an interactive Facebook Group, as well as other social media feeds and a lot of online videos and classes. Find links on our website or send a message for more details on connecting with our community.
Whatever you do within the practice, find support in doing it.
This final nutritional benefit could be considered one of the most critical aspects of developing improved brain health. It is also the method we use to finally move beyond the rest-and-digest state of consciousness to a thriving experience of life.
The most significant step in this journey is the step you will take next. Finally breaking free of the primal survival mechanisms to experience a true state of thriving is one of the most profound shifts I’ve ever made.
To continue the process, you will now be activating your brain’s prefrontal cortex. So, the exercises here change slightly. In this process, the goal is not to become comfortable or even to create happiness. The goal is to create a state of deep concentration, or what I often call ‘forced mindfulness.’ We create this by creating a simple shift in focus, a shift that is stimulating to the brain. As we move deeper into Phase Two Practices, we will be exploring the many effects this has on the brain.
By bringing ourselves into the current moment, we remove the ability to be anywhere else. If you are already adept at practices like these, you should be able to move through this phase of the program and onto developing advanced brain functions easily. If you aren’t, don’t worry, you will be soon. If you do your practices every day, the brain responds almost immediately.
I’ve included a log to help you keep track of your progress.
In review, the overall nutritional aspects of having a healthy brain are:
- Eating lots of protein, fat, and fiber
- Getting your blood pumping
- Staying connected with other people
- Stimulate the brain by firing the pre-frontal cortex by entered Phase Two.
Let’s begin tracking your nutrition.