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Change your brain, revitalise your body

Change your brain, revitalise your body – really? Sound too good to be true?

We’ve been talking over the last few weeks about how to use the power of your brain to reach your ideal body weight, look younger and boost your energy.

And let’s face it, who couldn’t do with a bit of that!

As part of our wellness and wellbeing series we’ve explored Dr Daniel Amen’s book, Change your Brain, Change your Body, including 10 brain principles for the body you want and four ways to use your brain to change your weight. Today we conclude our exploration in change your brain, revitalise your body.

How your brain can help beautify your body and improve your overall health and well-being.

Dr Amen puts forward 6 solutions:

1 – The Skin solution

Your skin is directly tied to the health of your brain.

People spend a lot of money on skin care products and more. It’s a huge multi-million pound business. From skin-care products to laser treatment, to the plastic surgeon, but Dr Amen argues these are only temporary fixes and the real solution lies in your brain.

It’s your brain that tells your skin to produce more or less oil, supervises the production of supportive collagen and is responsible for skin regeneration; so it’s there we need to begin.

“The health of your skin is an outside reflection of the health of your brain.” – Dr Daniel G. Amen

So what’s bad for our brain (and therefore our skin)?

Well it’s the usual suspects: Caffeine, alcohol, smoking, poor diet, too much sugar, yo-yo dieting, inadequate water intake, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, stress, unresolved emotional conflicts or PTSD, hormonal changes, untreated psychiatric conditions, dementia, medications, sun exposure, pollution and environmental toxins, climate.

And the solution:

Get more sleep, distress, exercise, balance your hormones, have more sex (really), limit caffeine and alcohol, quit smoking, eat a brain healthy diet (more of that next week), maintain a healthy weight, drink more water, balance your sun exposure (some sun is good for your Vitamin D) but not too much which can cause premature aging and sun spots. 20 minutes during the day after which protect yourself with sunscreen. And finally treat mental disorders and memory problems.

Plus you can take some supplements, e.g. Vitamin D, fish oil, evening primrose oil and grape seed extract (good antioxidant)

2 – The Hormone solution

Did you know your hormones have a huge impact on brain function?

When your hormones are balanced you tend to feel happy and energetic.

And in contrast Dr Amen cites evidence pointing to low hormonal levels being responsible for amongst other things: low libido, depression, memory problems, midlife crises and divorce.

While high hormone levels lead to: hyper competitiveness, acne or aggression.

Once again it’s the brain that controls all the hormones in your body.

Types of hormonal imbalance include thyroid, adrenal, testosterone, oestrogen, progesterone to name but a few. Different hormones require different treatments but often begin with blood tests depending on the symptoms.

3 – The Focus and Energy solution

If you want more energy and focus (and frankly, who doesn’t) then you are probably prey to one or more focus and energy robbers.

These fall into different categories including; infectious causes, hormonal issues, low or erratic blood sugar states, anaemia, brain trauma, environmental toxins, inherited brain disorders, medications, chronic stress, untreated past emotional traumas and bad brain habits.

So if you find yourself wondering if your lack of focus could be something more that just being disorganised or lacking focus, it might well be. The good news is there’s lots you can do to counteract this.

The first step is to get any of those focus and energy robbers treated and at the same time develop and maintain a brain-healthy lifestyle – adequate sleep, a brain-healthy diet, exercise (4-5 times/week), a stress reduction program if chronically stressed, and meditation is a particularly good energy booster too. Plus, certain foods are energy boosters including fruit, veg, beans, and whole grains and protein.

4 – The Sleep solution

And then we get to solution 4 – the sleep solution. Always a favourite topic of conversation between us. One of us a night owl who can survive on considerably less than the other.

Dr Amen suggests resting your brain for a slimmer shape and smoother skin, pointing to a small study by the University of Chicago which suggests people who are sleep deprived (the test was on 12 healthy men in their twenties who slept only 4 hours a night) were more likely to choose sweets, cookies, and cake over fruit, veg and dairy products.

Practical action steps in the sleep solution include: maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoid exercise close to bed time, and what causes sleep deprivations which includes amongst others medications, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and a number of others along with these usual suspects.

5 – The Stress solution

A little stress can be a good thing but excessive stress both in good and bad forms can spell trouble for your brain and body. Chronic stress affects the flow of blood to the brain, lowering overall brain function and prematurely ageing the brain and can also affect the body making you look older.

A 2009 study of 647 women found the physical effects of chronic stress were similar to the effects of smoking, being obese or being 10 years older than their actual age.

Techniques to help calm stress and thereby have a better body include: meditation, yoga, learning to delegate, practicing gratitude, getting enough sleep, exercise, soothing music, lavender, rehearsing or practicing situations that cause stress, living in the present (mindfulness), laughing more, seeking help, self-hypnosis and avoiding substances that harm your brain (the aforementioned usual suspects).

6 – The Negative Thoughts solution

The last solution is around thinking your way to being thinner, younger and happier through avoiding negative thoughts. Dr Amen cites 9 types of ANTs or Automatic Negative Thoughts that get in the way of your being thinner, feeling and looking younger and being happier.

We’ve looked at these and more in a previous post and episode of the Changeability Podcast which you check out at – Episode 39 – 11 Negative thoughts to avoid. And how to swat them.

Change your Brain, Change your Body

Change your Brain, Change your Body‘ is an interesting book that really got me thinking about whether some of the things he talks about, which I’m sometimes frustrated about in my own behaviours – tiredness, fogginess of thinking, could well be around imbalances, or poor dietary considerations and I was left wanting to explore that more.

It’s a dense book with many useful actionable steps in it, plenty to ponder and take action on and return to for further reading. It will really make you think about the mind-body connection.

Where to start?

Start by changing a few vital habits that will have the maximum impact. That may mean replacing ‘anti-nutrition’ with brain healthy foods, or taking supplements geared to your brain type, or by gradually starting an exercise program, or getting a bit more kip (sleep). Then fine tune your life changes to ramp up your brain and body health.

Episode 96 of the Changeability Podcast

Hear us talk about all of this and more on episode 96 of the Changeability Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or in the podcast player at the top of this post.

Links mentioned in the show