Have you ever gone through your day feeling like you were in a fog? Or you ate something and then felt like you were dragging through the day? According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, everything you have ever experienced, felt, or conducted in your life is due to brain function. The ability to enjoy, perceive, sense, and experience life is dictated by the firing of your brain.
It is impossible for a person to become healthy, mentally or physiologically, without a healthy brain. Instead of looking for New Age solutions to happiness via lessons, classes, or the latest biofeedback device, let’s solve the core imbalance in our life – our brain. The brain requires three basic elements to thrive in our environment: glucose, oxygen, and stimulation. Glucose, or blood sugar, is our primary energy substrate.
This fundamental molecule allows us to generate energy and perform the millions of tasks our body requires. Amazingly, the brain is about the size of our clenched fists held together, but uses almost 70% of the body’s glucose! Think back: have you ever felt shaky, light-headed, irritable, or dizzy between meals or after a skipped meal? This is your unconscious brain alerting you that your glucose is low and you’re starving! So, how does the body adapt? Primarily by secreting cortisol, an adrenal hormone, to increase the glucose level.
Unfortunately, long-standing abnormal blood-sugar patterns can alter our circadian rhythm of cortisol; which have been correlated with conditions like Diabetes, Hypoglycemia, and Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s important, then, to keep your body fueled through regular small meals, to maintain a healthy brain. Oxygen is the second critical factor in the brain’s ability to function. Nutrients, minerals, neurotransmitters, and cofactors require a steady supply of blood flow to the brain. But our brain is the furthest appendage from our heart, which has to pump all this vital fluid against gravity.
Do you ever get cold hands or feet? If your answer is an emphatic yes then you’re likely not getting critical blood flow to your hands and feet or, more important, your brain! Many things can affect blood flow, but your blood pressure is the first to check (shoot for 120/80). If it’s significantly low, you may be at risk for autoimmune disease; and if high, for stroke and coronary or diabetic complications. Stimulation to the brain is the last, and possibly most critical, factor in brain health.
How do we keep our brain active? The number-one, most researched avenue is aerobic exercise. Active exercise is also the most proven approach to depression. But what if one side of the brain is under-utilized or developed what’s been termed Functional Disconnection Syndrome? In Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders, Dr. Robert Melillo details how the developmental abnormalities experienced by an astounding one sixth of American children are due to the left and right hemispheres not communicating properly.
You may not experience ADD/ADHD or autism, but do you find math hard and playing instruments easy (or vice versa)? Any functional imbalance between hemispheres creates a cycle of over-reliance on and hence continual stimulation of the stronger side. Our difficulty with any given activity may have to do with its location in our weaker hemisphere, so the best thing we can do for our brain is to perform activities that challenge us.
Awakening consciousness through meditation, religion, or spiritual quests is truly valuable. To get the most out of these, how about addressing any underlying health problems first? Monitor your energy after and between meals to make sure your brain is receiving a steady stream of glucose. Monitor your blood pressure (2x/day), which should fall ten points above or below 120/80. Lastly, review which activities in school, life, or work have been hard and note any patterns suggesting hemisphere imbalance. If you suspect problems in any of the three factor areas, know that most alternative and allopathic physicians fall short in finding functional abnormalities and understanding optimal brain physiology. Instead, consider investing in a functional-medicine and neurological work-up by a qualified health-care practitioner to help you achieve the breakthroughs and brain you’re wanting.
Let Your Health Soar,
Dr. Ian Hollaman