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12 principles to change your life through brain health

- To expect a personality to survive the disintregation of the brain is like a cricket club to survive when all of its members are dead [[bertrand russell]]

- if you embrace the following principles they will set a foundation for brain health - and start to change evrerything in your life

- 1) Your brain is involved in everything you do. How do you think, how you feel, how you act, and how well you get along with with other people has to do with moment to moment functioning of your brain. Your brain is involved in every decision you make.

2) When your brain works right, you work right. When your brain is troubled, you have trouble in your life. When your brain is healthy, you tend to be effective, thoughtful, creative and energetic. When your brain is troubled - for whatever reason- You are much more likely to have problems in your life, including issues with depression, anxiety, impulsivity, anger, inflexibility and memory. Brain dysfunction, even when subtle, gets in the way of your ability to be successful in relationships, your work and even your finances.

3) Your brain is the most complicated organ in the universe. With about 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) and about another 100 billion support cells, your brain has more connections than there are stars in the universe. Your brain accounts for only about 2% of your body's weight, yet it uses 20-30 percent of the calories you consume and 20 percent of the oxygen and blood flow in the body

4) Your brain has needs that must be met in order to work at optimal efficiency. The requirements for optimal brain function include;

- healthy blood flow ( to deliver oxygen, vitamins and essential minerals to the brain)

- proper hydration

- physical and mental exercise

- Stimulation (new learning)

- fuel (aka food)

- Hormones

- A strong but not too strong immune system

- an efficient waste management system

- adequete sleep

- meaning and purpose in your life

- being socially connected to other brains

5) Your brain is soft and it is housed in a very hard skull. Your brain is about the consistency of soft butter, and it floats inside your head in a bath of cerebrospinal fluid. Inside your skull, there are sharpe bony ridges that can easily damage your brain. You must protect it

6) Many things can hurt the brain. meth, weed, booze, smoking, lonliness, sedentary lifestyle, pessimism, trauma-mental and physical (both the same), cocaine, opiates, smoking etc...

7) Many things can help the brain....more to come in a future blog.

8) Like an orchestra all parts of your brain need to be working well together to make you the best you can be. Certain brain systems tend to do specific things e.g.

- Pre frontal cortex (PFC) language, focus, forethought, judgement, empathy, impulse control, and learning from mistakes. This is called the executive brain because it is like the boss at work and helps you plan and make good decisions

- Temporal lobes - visual and auditory processing of memory, learning, mood stability, and emotional reactiveness

- On the inside of the temporal lobes are two critically important structures: The hippocampus, involved with mood and memory; and the amygdala, involved with signalling fear, emotional reactions, and anxiety

- The hippocampus is one of the few parts of your brain that continues to make new neurons every day. If you put in a healing environment, it can grow bigger. If it comes under toxic attack or sustained stress, it can shrink and become damaged

- parietal lobes - direction sense, math and constructing

- occipatal lobes- back of the brain and deals with visual processing

- cerebellum - Physical, emotional and cognitive coordination and processing speed. It houses half of the brains neurons, even though it makes up only 10 percent of the brains volume. It is one of the most underated parts of the brain

- anterior cingulate cortex - shifting attention and error detection

- Basal Ganglia - pleasure, motivation and adjusting movements

- Deep limbic system - sensory gating and emotional processing

- None of these areas of the brain work in isolation. This is where Network Modes enter the picture. The Default Mode Network, The Task Postive Node and the Salience network. More on this to follow in future blogs and videos.

- 9) Understanding your brain helps you identify specific problems and which part of your brain needs help. Problems in certain brain sytems tend to be asscociated with specific issues, such as:

- PFC- language problems, short attention span, distractability, a lack of planning and forethought, poor judgement, low empathy, poor impulse control and not learning from mistakes

- Temporal lobe - visual and auditory abnormalities, poor memory, learning disbilities, modd instabilities, and tempre issues

- Parietal lobes - Poor direction sense and trouble with math

- Occiptal lobes - visual processing issues

- Cerrebellum - Problems with physical emogional, and thought coordinationation and processing speed

- Anterior cingulate cortex - trouble shifting attention, worry, holding grudges, obsessions, and excessive error detection

- Basal Ganglia - Addictions, termors and low motivation

- Deep limbic system - Sensory overload, sadness and negativity.

- 10) Psychiatric 'illnesses' are not single or simple disorders; they all have multiple types that require their own treatments. Taking a one size fits all approach to treatment invites repeated failure and frustration. Depression, for example, is a symptom, NOT AN ILLNESS


- 11) The amount of 'brain reserve' you have can help you handle life's stresses or make you more vulnerable to them. Did you know that the adult brain loses an average of 85,000 neurons a day? In early childhood, the brain is very active, sprouting new neurons and developing new connections between synapses. Older adults have significantly less activity in the brain. As we get older, our muscles tend to wither, and a similar process takes place in the brain. What I have learned is that your day to day lifestyle and activities are either accelerating or slowing the brain aging process. Just as you can train your muscles to retain a more youthful tone, you can use strategies to keep your brain functioning more optimally.


- Brain reserve. Lets backtrack a bit to explain why some people have more brain reserve than others. A growing body of science is showing that even before you were conceived, your parents lifestyle habits were laying the foundation for your overall wellbeing and physical and mental health. At conception, your brain had a potential for reserve. However, if your mom smoked, drank too much alcohol, ate junk food, was chronically stressed, or had infections during pregnancy, it depleted your reserve - even before you were born. If on the other hand if your mom or dad didnt smoke and she was healthy, ate nutritious foods, took prenatal vitamins and was not overly stressed, it was contributing to a boost in your resrve. After your grand entrance into the world, this increase or depletion in your brain reserve continues for the rest of your life. For example, if you were exposed to chronic stress or you witnessed domestic abuse at home, it decreased your reserve. If you fell off your bike and hit your head when you were a child, it lowered your reserve, even if you didnt have any symptoms. If you started smoking weed as a teenager, it further depleted your reserve. If you played football and kept heading a football it took aditional toll on your reserve. Despite all of these knocks on your reserve, you may not have developed any symptoms yet. An example of someone with more brain reserve than someone else may be two people involved in a car accident. They experienced the same experience. Same 'trauma' One has PTSD the other doesn't. The second has more brain reserve than the first.

- Love your brain

- Avoid things that hurt your brain

- Do things that help your brain

The decisions you make and the habits you engage in on a daily basis are either boosting or stealing your brains reserve and are either accelerating the aging process or rejuvinating your brain. When you grasp this concept, you realise that you have a lot of influence on the health and age of your brain, as well as on your own mental health and ability to end 'mental illness'. Remember Psychologists do not have an accurate description of what mental illness is. They dont know the line between a mentally healthy person and a mentally ill person. It's in your hands. Take responsibility for the most amazing thing in the universe. Your brain

12) You are not stuck with the brain you have. You can make it better. Here are 4 areas that can improve the health of your brain

- Biological - how your physical body and brain function (body)

- Psychological - developmental issues and how you think and feel (mind)

- Social: social support and interactions, and your current life situations (connections)

- Spiritual: Your connection to God, the planet, and past and future generations; and your deepest sense of meaning and purpose (spirit)

This was inspired by Daniel Amen who does incredible work with SPECT scanning and mental health.

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