Train Your Brain

How does the brain communicate?

The brain is a communications centre consisting of billions of neurons, or nerve cells. Networks of neurons pass messages back and forth to different structures within the brain, the spinal column, and the peripheral nervous system. These nerve networks coordinate and regulate everything we feel, think, and do.

  • Neuron to Neuron
    Each nerve cell in the brain sends and receives messages in the form of electrical impulses. Once a cell receives and processes a message, it sends it on to other neurons.
  • Neurotransmitters – The Brain’s Chemical Messengers
    The messages are carried between neurons by chemicals called neurotransmitters. (They transmit messages between neurons.)
  • Receptors – The Brain’s Chemical Receivers
    The neurotransmitter attaches to a specialized site on the receiving cell called a receptor. A neurotransmitter and its receptor operate like a “key and lock,” an exquisitely specific mechanism that ensures that each receptor will forward the appropriate message only after interacting with the right kind of neurotransmitter.
  • Transporters – The Brain’s Chemical Recyclers
    Located on the cell that releases the neurotransmitter, transporters recycle these neurotransmitters (i.e., bringing them back into the cell that released them), thereby shutting off the signal between neurons.

To send a message a brain cell releases a chemical (neurotransmitter) into the space separating two cells called the synapse. The neurotransmitter crosses the synapse and attaches to proteins (receptors) on the receiving brain cell. This causes changes in the receiving brain cell and the message is delivered.

Most drugs of abuse target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine.

How to Train Your Brain to Crave Healthy Foods

How to Train Your Brain to Crave Healthy Foods

This is a post from the guys over at Beach Body. The creators of programs like P90X, Insanity and TurboFire.

If you want to learn more, check out the book Train Your Brain: Your Food Matters

Now I’m going to let Denis take over…

By Denis Faye

True story: I was a fat kid, peaking at about 225 pounds by age 18. In my more socially awkward moments—and there were many—junk food was my best friend. Or so I thought. When my algebra class crush would gave me the “just friends” speech or a so-called buddy would jokingly call me “Fatso,” nothing said acceptance like a pint of Rocky Road and half a package of Nutter Butters.

Junk food vs. healthy heart food

Today, I weigh about 160 and I’d love to tell you those urges are behind me. Sadly, they’re not. On bad days, it takes a concerted effort not to pig out. My name is Denis Faye and I am a junk food junkie.

Given our nation’s exploding obesity and diabetes rates, you very well could be too. The good news is that with a few tricks and a little hard work, together we can keep those sugar monkeys on our backs under control.

Why we’re hooked on garbage

NachosIt’s safe to say that junk food addiction is a very real thing. The first place to look for proof is the ever-mounting pile of scientific evidence, including a recent study out of Sweden showing that the hormone ghrelin, which activates the brain’s reward system and increases appetite, reacts similarly to sugar and alcohol.

Then there are the increasingly decadent foods we have 24-hour access to. In his book The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler theorizes that manufacturers have, over the years, engineered the balance of fat, sugar, and salt in junk food to the point of making it irresistible. He refers to our gluttonous response to this crackified food as “conditioned hypereating.”

Most of this current thinking revolves around physiological factors, such as the fact our brains are hardwired to seek out highly caloric foods as a “feast or famine” instinct left over from caveman days. Unfortunately, human beings are slightly more complex than our primitive ancestors. By adulthood, most of us are a hodgepodge of neuroses and psychoses for whom a Twinkie has become a security blanket, so this urge to splurge will never completely vanish. Sure, you can retrain your body to crave healthy food, but your psyche may never stop seeking validation, Hostess® style.

How to keep that addiction under control

DonutLuckily, a well-trained body goes a long way towards helping a slightly off-kilter mind. For example, if I were to force down that aforementioned slice of Sara Lee® heaven, I’d get physically sick. After years of clean eating, my digestive system has lost its ability to handle the toxic effects of a sugar hit like that, not to mention the preservatives and additives. Thanks in part to these newfound “limitations,” today I can walk away from the cake or limit myself to one or two bites—but that’s taken years of training.

But it wasn’t easy. If you’re going to break a sugar habit, it’s going to take time, patience, and willpower. But take it from a guy who used to work his way through an entire box of Cap’n Crunch® for breakfast: If I can do it, so can you. Here’s where to start.

    1. Clean all the junk food out of your home. Think of the stereotypical image of the woman getting dumped by her boyfriend and climbing into bed with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s®. If that tub wasn’t in the freezer to begin with, odds are that our protagonist would have instead settled for a soak in the tub.

      There’s also “unconscious eating” to worry about—when you just grab a bag of fried carbs while you’re sitting in front of the tube and stuff your face for no reason. If you don’t have access to the junk, the only bag you’ll be able to grab for will be filled with baby carrots. If someone brings some junk over for a dinner party, enjoy it with them and dump the rest when they leave.

    2. CookiesMake 80% clean. Relax with that other 20%. Just because your kitchen cupboard no longer looks like a movie theater concession stand doesn’t mean you can’t live it up sometimes. If most of your diet is super tight, you’re doing great, so cut yourself some slack. When I made my first big push to clean up my diet, Friday was Cookie Day. I ate like a saint 6 days a week, but every Friday I had a giant chocolate chip cookie and a latte.

      Knowing I had Cookie Day to look forward to made all the celery on the other days much more palatable.

    3. Make a comforting ritual out of eating healthy. The fact that Cookie Day was a ritual was also quite helpful. Unhealthy eating is often ritualistic—something comfortable and constant that you can depend on. Not only can you have your own Cookie Day—a conscious, controlled, weekly moment of indulgence—but you can replace unhealthy rituals with healthy ones.

      For example, I used to drink at least two servings of alcohol a night. I’d have wine or beer with dinner and then another one when I was sitting around reading or watching TV. When I realized that second drink wasn’t doing me any favors, I replaced it with a cup of herbal tea. The 21-days-to-form-a-habit thing has no scientific backing, but eventually a behavior pattern will set in. In my case, after three weeks I stopped missing that second beer. Then, after a few more weeks I really started craving the calming, peaceful feeling my cup o’ chamomile gave me. Now it’s a nightly ritual.

    4. Almonds and Nutrition BarCarry healthy foods with you at all times. If you carry a purse or a backpack, throw an apple or some raw nuts in there. In this Fast Food Nation, it’s pretty easy to find yourself in situations where you’re hungry and, shucks, you just have no choice but to buy a donut because that’s the only thing you have access to.

      You don’t have that excuse if there’s a snack in your pack. Here are a few to consider:

      • Fresh fruit (Apples and oranges travel well!)
      • Dried fruit (It all travels well!)
      • Raw nuts
      • Whole-grain crackers
      • A Shakeology® packet
  1. Discover new, yummy fruits and veggies. There’s a lot of weird, healthy food out there. Sometimes, we avoid fresh produce because either we’re either bored of the same old oranges or there’s a stigma associated with particular produce. Dad just forced you to eat asparagus one too many times. If this is a problem for you, buy fruits and veggies you don’t recognize. If you don’t know how to prepare it, do an internet search for “(produce name) + recipe.” You might stumble on a new flavor that completely blows your mind.

    For me, that magic fruit was the cherimoya, or “custard apple.” They’re green and scaly on the outside, thick, white, and creamy on the inside, with a rich taste as sweet and satisfying as the richest sorbet. My mouth is watering just writing about them.

  2. Fresh FruitBinge on healthy foods. I’m probably the only person who will ever give you this advice since it’s a wee bit questionable. Every once in the while, something emotional triggers me and I need to eat junk. Someday I might completely conquer this urge, but not yet. When I feel this happening, I hit the fridge and “pre-binge” on healthy foods, mainly raw veggies. Sooner or later, the ice cream or chips come out, but by that point, I’m so full of broccoli or spinach that I’m not physically capable of doing too much damage. Dysfunctional? Maybe, but a vast improvement over the alternative.

You might be one of those lucky souls who just decided to walk away from the candy counter and never looked back. Good for you. I’m not one of those people. Eating right is much easier than it was 20 years ago, but it’s still a process. That said, the rewards are innumerable, so why don’t you set down the pudding pop, grab a peach, and join me?Resources:

  1. Kessler, D. (2009). The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. New York, NY. Rodale.
  2. Lally, P., Van Jaarsveld, C., Potts, H., & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world.European Journal of Social Psychology, 1009 (June 2009), 998-1009. JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD.
  3. 3. Landgren, S., Simms, J. A., Thelle, D. S., Strandhagen, E., Bartlett, S. E., Engel, J. A., & Jerlhag, E. (2011). The Ghrelin Signalling System Is Involved in the Consumption of Sweets. (M. Mattson, Ed.) PLoS ONE, 6(3), 9.

 

Related Articles
“Sugar Addiction Detox 101”
“10 Tips for Controlling Your Inner Cookie Monster®
“Spring Cleansing: 5 Great Reasons to Do a Detox”

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can’t wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you’d like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@TeamBeachbody.com.

Original Article: Confessions of a Junk Food Junkie: 6 Tricks to Kick the Habit

Chris Hughes

Chris is an Internet Entrepreneur, Juggler, Traveler and loves learning. Chris is out to enjoy life while building profitable businesses that allow people to have more fun in their lives.

Connect with Chris on Google+.

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Brain Training for Kids

Brain Training for Kids

This short little article talks a little bit about how kids can use the games from Lumosity to grow their brains and train themselves to learn better.

lumosity banner

Children can learn and re-shape their brains faster than anyone else. Not surprisingly, we’ve found that teenagers who train with the Lumosity brain games improve dramatically. There is also increasing support for the idea that training can help address the cognitive symptoms of ADHD.

Dr. Robert Myers describes some activities that can help a child deal with ADHD in his article,5 Simple Concentration Building Techniques for Kids with ADHD:

“As a child psychologist and the father of a son with ADHD, I developed a host of exercises that help ADHD kids improve their concentration. The key is presenting them as games that are actually fun for parents and children to do together.

…For older children and adolescents, check out the cognitive exercises provided by Lumosity.”

One of his recommendations is to practice relaxation and positive imagery. For example,

“ADHD kids can “imagine” that they’re paying attention in class or able to handle teasing, and this can in turn change their behavior at school.”

I believe that regular physical exercise can also help children (or adults) control ADHD. Instead of rushing into stimulant prescriptions, perhaps it’s worth trying some of these fun and harmless behavioral interventions.

Read the original article at Brain Training for Kids 

Chris Hughes

Chris is an Internet Entrepreneur, Juggler, Traveler and loves learning. Chris is out to enjoy life while building profitable businesses that allow people to have more fun in their lives.

Connect with Chris on Google+.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

How to Unlock More of Your Brain Power

Brain Power is something that we are constantly trying to improve.

It seems like a lot of the products that are being released are out there to help you think faster, improve your memory, comprehend information better and to truly unleash your brain’s full potential.

Do stupid things faster with more energy

Even signs like this are being sold on Amazon. (I laugh every time I see this)

More and more information is becoming available on how to unlock more of your brain power so I thought it would be a good idea to create a resource to help you improve your brain power.

Below is a list of things you can do to unlock more brain power:

  • Cultivate ambidexterity. You always brush your teeth and eat your food with the same hand. Take notice of this and switch it up.  You can also start juggling today which helps ambidexterity.
  • 5 Why’s. When stuck on projects, ask yourself 5 “Why’s”. This will help you to get more detailed on your answers and brings more of your childhood curiosity back into your life.
  • Think positive thoughts. You’re already thinking all day anyway, why not think positive thoughts?
  • Eat Brain Foods. You can learn about brain foods here and why you should start to incorporate them into your diet.
  • Listen to music. Music has a profound impact on your life and if you listen to the Baroque style of music and do work, your productivity will soar through the roof. Baroque music pulses between 50 to 80 beats per minute. Baroque music “stabilizes mental, physical and emotional rhythms,” according to Chris Boyd Brewer, “to attain a state of deep concentration and focus in which large amounts of content information can be processed and learned.”
  • Train Your Brain. When you take the time to train your brain, everything becomes possible.
  • Learn a foreign language. Learning a foreign language is one of the best things you can do to unlock more of your brain power. It will also make you more intelligent and a better communicator.
  • Start a blog. Learning to write has had a profound impact on the way I view the world. I never used to enjoy writing and now use it as a tool for personal growth and to share what I learn. You can learn to start a blog in 24 hours here.
  • Learn to speed read
  • Commit to lifelong learning. Never stop learning. If you can, try to learn something new every day.
  • Admit your problems out loud. I wrote a blog post all about my weaknesses to not only admit them to myself, but to free myself from these limiting beliefs I had about my weaknesses.
This is just a starting point to unlock more of your brain power. The more activities like these that you do, the more of your brain power you will be unlocking. 

Do you have any experiences that helped you unlock more of your brain power?

Chris Hughes

Chris is an Internet Entrepreneur, Juggler, Traveler and loves learning. Chris is out to enjoy life while building profitable businesses that allow people to have more fun in their lives.

Connect with Chris on Google+.

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Why You Should Smile Right Now

I just read the article The Untapped Power of Smiling on Forbes.com and it re-inforced something that I’ve been finding to be true. Smiling is awesome.

I consider myself someone who is good at getting people to cheer up and have more fun. One of the biggest secrets to my success with getting people to do this has been my ability to get people to smile. Whether I am juggling or playing jokes on people, I have found some excellent ways to get people to smile.

“And unlike lots of chocolate, lots of smiling can actually make you healthier. Smiling has documented therapeutic effects, and has been associated with: reduced stress hormone levels (like cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine), increased health and mood enhancing hormone levels (like endorphins), and lowered blood pressure”  Source: The Untapped Power of Smiling

 

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Smiling is simply awesome. You should smile right now.

Really.

Smile.

You look better when you smile and naturally are more attractive to the opposite sex when you smile.

(I knew sex would get your attention)

The next time you are having a bad day, keep this in mind. Head over to youtube and watch a funny video or go hang out with some kids who are having fun. It’ll rub off on you and you’ll naturally start to feel better.

Watch this video from the band, Truth On Earth and smile. It’s called “Happy” and will put you in a great mood.

Do you have any experience with smiling changing the way someone speaks to you or reacts to you?

Leave your thoughts below!

Chris Hughes

Chris is an Internet Entrepreneur, Juggler, Traveler and loves learning. Chris is out to enjoy life while building profitable businesses that allow people to have more fun in their lives.

Connect with Chris on Google+.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook