- Mental Health
Ways to Hack your Brain
Simple ways to improve your life and health
The brain is a funny thing. A lot goes on up there that we don't really know about. Important stuff, that if we knew about, we would change or fix. Simple changes in your life and your actions can have profound effects on your health.
These are some easy tricks to hack your brain and improve your life.
#6 Eliminate Processed foods and chemicals
While not all processed foods are bad, a significant number of the additives and preservatives that are put into them are.
Recent studies have linked chronic, low dose aspartame to cancer on lab animals. These dosages are consistent with usage of humans using the small packets of nutrasweet you see every day.
I directly know two people who, after taking artificial sweeteners, develop bigeminy, which is an abnormal heart rhythm.
#5 Try Keto or Paleo
The ketogenic diet is a diet that trains your brain to start running on ketones instead of the normal glucose. The ketogenic diet was originally developed to treat seizures, and has remarkable results in most circumstances.
This study is an interesting analysis showing decreases in blood pressure, improved cholesterol, and decreased body weight.
I know I seem to have more patience, less anxiety, and more energy when eating ketogenically. I tend to be slower to anger and am more understanding.
Paleo is a way of eating that promotes natural foods. Things that were eaten by our ancestors. Mostly meat, nuts, vegetables, and some fruit. Processed foods are out, natural foods are in! Frequently, Paleo diets become ketogenic as well.
Bright light treatment
This lamp might help with SAD
#4 Get some sun
It is fairly well known that sunlight helps you get your vitamin D, but few people realize that the beneficial effects go further than that.
Sunny days have been shown to increase serotonin production. Have you ever heard of a class of antidepressants called SSRIs. SSRI stands for selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. They are designed to increase serotonin levels in your brain. Try getting some sun, too!
Sunlight, especially in the morning, also increases wakefulness and improves sleep patterns and circadian rhythm, in children when paired with L-tryptophan and B6 at breakfast - but I feel this study is important to adults too. Important to note, another study concluded that L-tryptophan and B6 did nothing if there wasn't sunlight exposure.
Further, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing. The number of people effected by SAD seem to increase the further North you are in the U.S. SAD seems to effect women more than men. Looking towards, but not directly bright light seems to mitigate SAD in some people, but sometimes sunlight isn't available due to temperature (who wants to go out when it's cold?) or cloud cover, or even a month of darkness, like when you are far North or South (like Alaska).
Photo by: Jams 123
#3 Get some Sleep
but not too much!
We know that direct sunlight in the morning helps improve wakefulness and circadian rhythm (your sleep pattern) when combined with B6 and L-Tryptophan, but what does sleep actually do?
Scientists aren't really sure why we sleep, other than that we get tired. There are interesting theories, but nothing definitive.
Regardless, sleep is very important. The effects of sleep deprivation are many and quite severe. Hypertension, obesity, psychiatric disorders, and increased risk of injury (like car crashes from falling asleep) are only the beginning.
Every bit of light exposed to you while you are trying to sleep suppresses melatonin. Blue light is the worst offender. Most electronic devices with screens (like your phone, TV, iPad) use a wavelength of light very close to blue light, disrupting your sleep. Do you keep your cell phone on your nightstand? It might be making it harder for you to sleep, and making sleep less restful while you are. Put your cell phone in a drawer, or outside your bedroom!
Watching TV until you fall asleep (I am an offender here!) actually decreases your chance of getting a good night's sleep.
Sleeping too much has many risks associated with it as well. Most experts suggest 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Exercise is very important for body composition and overall health. But exercise does much more than just improve how healthy your heart and lungs are, how much muscle and fat you have.
Exercise improves memory, learning, and cognitive function. In essence, exercise makes you smarter and able to learn new things.
On top of that, exercise improves your mood, and helps alleviate depression. Remember our good friend serotonin that helps alleviate depression (from above). It turns out that serotonin has two friends that show up when you exercise.
These three neurotransmitters work together to make you feel better.
Smiling has many positive effects, whether you actually feel happy or not.
Yes, a fake smile can cause real happiness.
You can read more about smiling more, and its benefits on my page about smiling.