Dr. Maya Sarkisyan offers insight into lifestyle choices, particularly when it comes to exercise and digestion, which is key to increasing your brain’s performance.
Previously, I shared with you two steps to achieving better brain performance – one of my favorite things in the world. Yes, I’m a total fan of peak performances of any sort, and I even had to do some inner work to tone it down a little. Otherwise, perfectionism can backfire. I’m sure some of you, my readers, can relate to that. Perfectionism can affect our performance, increase stress, etc. So, today, I’ll be writing about working around it without losing the quality of whatever you are doing.
Here, I’ll share with you two more steps for how to get maximum output from your brain without getting depleted – along with some additional benefits.
Since the beginning of time, people moved their bodies all the time. We are mammals, and we share many features with animals. For example, we host many thousands of various parasites that help us in daily life… But this is another topic we will cover some other time.
In Chinese medicine, we talk about Qi – life force, and how our blood carries Qi and Qi helps to move blood. By the way, recent Netflix Marvel series talk about Qi, and they are accurate in their description. I really like the “Iron Fist” series!
There are ways to cultivate Qi through meditation, QiGong, and lifestyle choices. It has a direct impact on the way you can concentrate and control your mind, so it does what you want it to do rather than running like a wild monkey being manipulated by external influences. (I’ll talk about this in Part Three of this series.)
In contemporary medicine, we speak of blood and lymphatics which constantly have to be moving to deliver nutrients to the cells (blood) and propagate the immune system through the body (lymphatics).
To have it happen, we have to move, except when we sleep, because at that time other processes happen that are directly related to a daily movement of body fluids. The better all these processes happen, the better blood flow to the brain is.
A human nervous system consists of the central and peripheral nervous systems, with the brain serving as a controller sending and receiving messages. And every tiny area of your body participates in that messaging. Approximately 20% of the blood flowing from the heart is pumped to the brain. The brain needs constant blood flow to keep up with the heavy metabolic demands of the neurons. The brain also uses 15-20% of the body’s oxygen supply. There are other factors affecting blood flow in the brain, but the amount of oxygen is of vital importance.
So, the better we breathe, the more oxygen is available to the brain.
Imagine how deeply will you breathe sitting all day long at your cubicle, or driving everywhere, and then being sedentary at home. You don’t need a high-intensity exercise to oxygenate your brain, in fact, a low-intensity activity like walking oxygenates your brain without expanding oxygen on other parts of your body.
High-intensity exercise, on the other hand, expands your blood vessels, and long-term exercise may promote new blood vessel growth that increases blood flow into the brain.
- Walk in the morning for at least 20 minutes.
- Practice deep breathing at least for 5 minutes in the morning and before you go to bed.
- At least once a week, do high-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes.
- At least once a week, do weight-lifting exercise.
- Every day, engage in some meaningful movement – dancing, yoga, pilates, prolonged walking, etc. It will help your brain to grow new neurons.
Food is the Information Your Body Receives
Your digestive process is complicated, yet it’s one very long tube starting at the mouth and ending at the rectum. Your life-sustaining functions are happening between these entry and exit points. Period. It’s straightforward.
So, how does your digestion actually happen? It starts in the mouth with saliva digesting carbohydrates (Chew your food properly!). This glucose becomes immediately available for your brain, but keep in mind that artificial and toxic sweet foods are extremely dangerous to your brain – and when you put them in your mouth, your brain gets poisoned almost immediately.
Your digestive tract secretes many enzymes helping you to extract nutrients from your food. So – two things are important – the food that you eat and the quantity/quality of enzymes that your gut can produce. And even further down the digestive tube, another thing becomes even more important – the bacterial flora you have in your belly. What digests your food and impacts your life is the microbiome you are hosting in your body. You have thousands of bacteria living in you in a symbiotic relationship – give and take in harmony. Problems start when bad bacteria overgrowth good bacteria. When all is in balance, your body can compensate for bad bacteria. However, when foods that you eat (and stress you are putting your body through) disturb that balance, the bad bacteria grow and good bacteria die.
It directly impacts your mood, clarity of mind, focus, sleep, allergic reaction, etc. You name it.
- Chew your food well – 30 chews per bite.
- After each meal, observe: Do you have bloating or gas? Make a note what you ate.
- After each meal, ask yourself: Are you more energetic or you are fatigued? Make a note on that. It is useful information.
- Look at your food and decide – what information will this food give your body? Is it peak performance food, is it clean and nutrient-dense? Can it sustain and improve your life?
- Observe your bowel movements. They have to be at least once a day with a smooth consistency.
- Thank your body for performing all these complicated life-sustaining tasks for you. Put in your body only what will be beneficial for it.
In Part Three, I’ll share one more practical step for peak brain performance – Mind Training.
If this information piqued your curiosity, let me know by emailing me: [email protected]. And ask for more concrete steps.
This is Part Two of a three-part series.