Why Do Our Brains Stop Working? And What Can We Do To Improve Our Memory, Focus, And Concentration?
When our minds slow down and simply stop working in some cases, it can be embarrassing to say the least.
I mean, it’s not like we are stupid or uneducated, or have some kind of learning disability.
We used to be top performers in our industry and academic institutions.
What happened to cause us to have slower brains, no longer able to process information at lightning speeds like we used to?
Or, being unable to comprehend the meaning of the words being spoken to us.
Or being forgetful of the various little tasks that we need to accomplish, but simply didn’t because we just plain forgot?
Well, if you are finding that your brain and mental functions are not what they once were, don’t feel too bad, because you are not alone.
In fact, mild to moderate cognitive impairment and cognitive decline are now reaching record level highs in our modern society, as many different factors are all ganging up on us at the same time, causing our brains to malfunction at an ever increasing rate.
” I used to be as sharp as a tack! Now I hardly know where I left my wallet or my car keys. I’d lose my head if it wasn’t attached….”
These are common phrases I hear from all sorts of clients, who are afraid of their declining memory and their inability to stay on top of important projects and assignments and therefore are finding it difficult to manage their work and personal lives in an efficient and responsible manner.
The truth is that our brains are taking a beating from so many different directions….. I am going to have to break it down into smaller pieces for you to fully comprehend the severity of our current mental health crisis that we are currently experiencing as a world as a whole.
…Inflammation is setting our brains on Fire!!
This is a very real situation that many people do not even know about.
But rest assured, this will become the most widely accepted fact about cognitive decline and neurodegenerative health conditions in the coming years.
Brain inflammation is the cause to your brain cells coming under attack and being destroyed by your immune cells.
This inflammation basically “scrambles” all of your circuits and neural pathways so that you can’t think clearly, or have trouble focusing and staying motivated when you are trying to get things done, like home or work projects.
You can even start to have a decline in memory: forgetting things like what the reason was for why you walked into a room, or even remembering what you did just one day earlier.
As you can see, this can be very frightening as we can begin to lose both our short term and long term memory as this scenario worsens over time.
What is causing all of this Inflammation!!
Inflammation is the result of our immune cells in our brain, called the micrioglial cells to become activated, and create inflammatory signals called CYTOKINES.
These Cytokines signal to even more immune cells to also become activated and therefore this creates even more cytokine production.
Cytokines are proteins made by immune cells that signal to other immune cells to damage and destroy pathogens, however our own cells can also be targeted and damaged by this exact same inflammatory process.
So, again you ask, what is causing all of this inflammation?
Well, now that we know that it is because of the immune cells in your brain becoming activated to create these inflammatory signals.
Now we just have to find out what is causing your brain’s immune system to get trigerred like this.
And this can be a VERY LONG LIST OF THINGS…
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
When your gut is overgrown with pathogenic unfriendly bacteria, gas and bloating and indigestion can be one hallmark symptom, but so is brain fog, fatigue and poor memory…
Candida is an invasive yeast that feeds off of sugar, starches, fruits and carbohydrates and converts those into toxic chemicals that can also lead to gut inflammation, bloating, and can lead to Candida overgrowth throughout your entire body, including your brain and skin (like with athlete’s foot and jock itch).
Elevated Blood Sugar
When your blood sugar is too high, the proteins in your blood become glycated, which creates sticky glue-like substances and inflammation that can lead to atherosclerosis, congestive heart disease, and block proper blood circulation to the brain, or even cause mild or moderate strokes and TIA’s that can lead to chronic neurodegenerative conditions like Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
After years of poor diet and too much stress, and too much inflammation than your intestinal lining cells will begin to break down and lead to openings in this intestinal barrier, allowing neurotoxins and food particles and gut bacteria into the bloodstream, which can lead to inflammation all over the body, including the brain, causing bran fog, poor memory and neuro-cognitive decline, as well as declining Motor functions as with Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
Just like your gut lining, your Brain barrier known as the Blood-Brain-Barrier will also begin to break down due to chronic stress, poor circulation, inflammation, heavy metals and toxic chemicals, and nutrient deficiencies all cause the Glial cells that make up your Blood-Brain-Barrier to wear out and form openings where neurotoxins can gain entry into your brain, activating the immune cells in the brain that can lead to brain fog, and low energy.
Of ALL the foods that can cause problems with brain function, no other food group than “Gluten-containing Foods” (such as wheat bread, pasta, and many other grain products) have eve been found to cause such adverse brain health issues, such as the disease known as “Gluten-induced Ataxia” where people cannot even walk or stand up properly. Gluten has proteins that mimic the myelin proteins that cover your axons, and when your immune system reacts to Gluten in the breads and pastas you are eating, your immune system can also do a lot of damage to your brain in the process known as “cross-reactivity”.
VOC's and Synthetic Fragrances
VOC’s stand for Volatile Organic Compounds, and these are the airborne chemicals and fumes that get released like at a gas station, or when you pain your living room, or when they redo the asphalt on main street. Many soaps, detergents, chemical solvents and household cleaners all give off huge amounts VOC’s, especially products that are perfumed like your Laundry detergent, perfumes, deodorant or dish soap. By breathing these chemicals in through your nose and lungs, these chemicals can pass right through the blood-brain-barrier and cause neurotoxicity and immune reactions inside the brain, leading to brain fog and flu-like symptoms or just exhaustion.
Many homes do not have adequate water proofing barriers, and therefore certain rooms and closets and floorboards can all become infested with Black mold. This airborne pathogen can get into your lungs but through the bloodstream can infect your whole body, and cause your brain to become inflamed and sick feeling, leading to exhaustion, and neurological impairment.
Mercury and Toxic Heavy Metals
Mercury has been in use since the Ancient Egyptians, and was used by medical practitioners to eradicate Syphillis in the 1800’s. That has led to many other industrialized uses such as hat felting (“mad as a hatter” was a term created to desribe the neuro-psychological defects and schizophrenia experienced by hat makers who breathed in Mercury all day) as well as metallurgical uses, dental amalgams and vaccine preservatives, along with the ethyl mercury fumes that go into our atmosphere due to coal-burning power plants, which then ends up in the streams, lakes, and ocean fish such as swordfish, shark and tuna.
Fluoride and Chlorides in Municipal Tap Water
Fluorides are the waste products of Aluminum refineries, and are known as poisons according to Poison Control. Just look at your toothpaste and it will tell you NOT to swallow your fluoride toothpaste, and if you do to call Poison Control right away. Fluorides and Chlorides are both added to municipal water supplies, along with Aluminum which acts as a flocculant to gather any particulate matter, but this combination of chlorides and fluorides and aluminum, along with a whole host of other toxic metals and chemicals and synthetic hormones and industrial herbicides and farm water runoff, makes city water extremely toxic to the Thyroid, Brain, Liver and Kidneys.
Low Dietary Intake of High Antioxidant Rich Foods
Without adequate intake of high antioxidants foods like berries and cruciferous vegetables, than your Liver lacks the nutrients it needs to help to scavenge the free radicals that lead to oxidative damage to your cells, and ultimately to more inflammatory cellular responses that can lead to brain cell damage and destruction.
PUFA's (Polyunsaturated Fats like Canola Oil)
PUFA’s, polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in the cooking oils of every restaurant and all of your snacks, chips, cereals, mayonnaise, and many other canned and frozen foods contain these types of oils which have been linked to trans-fatty acid formation which are known to be free radicals and lipid oxides. Oxidized fats like PUFA’s can lead to placque build up in the heart and brain, cause tissue inflammation, poor circulation, and liver conditions as these denatured lipids build up in fatty liver disease and the lymphatic drainage vessels, which can lead to lymphedema, causing swelling and fluids and pathogens to get stuck in the brain and sinus passages, and therefore block proper blood circulation and neuro-perfusion.
Eating too much Soy products
Soy products are high in lectins, phytoestrogens, and phytates that can block your thyroid hormones, and create a sluggish Liver and Slow down your metabolism. This can lead to Estrogen dominance, which can raise your blood pressure, as well as cause an increase in cellular inflammatory pathways that get increased as a result of your Liver’s metabolic pathways slowing down and getting overburdened with Phytoestrogens and other toxins that will build up as a result of a slow metabolism.
Industrial agriculture - Glyphosate and GMO's
Conventional farming practices create an environmental holocaust of wildlife and detroys soil fertility, while destroying the healthy soil microbiome of soil based organisms that our gut actually needs to be healthy and balanced. And at the same time the water ways and ground water are polluted with Roundup, Atrazine and herbicides, which also get sprayed directly onto the grains after the harvest to keep them “fresh”, while the GMO corn, soy and wheat DNA encodes proteins that are not exactly natural and can lead to a leaky gut syndrome as our immune system reacts to these foreign proteins as toxins, not food, and so inflammation is triggered for so many reasons every time we eat Conventionally farmed grains, sugar, vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy products. We have to clean up our diet if we want to have a healthy brain.
If your brain does not get enough blood supply circulating to the brain in adequate amounts, your brain cells will die off and neurological functions like GI motility and intestinal peristalsis can shut down, as is the case with Parkinson’s Disease.
Cardiovascular health is so important to brain function and mental health, that the number one antidepressant medication that you can take, is to go for a walk or a run.
But how much cardio is too much?
If we overtrain and exhaust our adrenal glands and heart muscle, we can actually end up reducing neurovascular perfusion, and even causing things like heart attacks, strokes, and TIA’s to occur with more frequency.
The right amount of movement and activity, must be the correct amount for you, and is not the same as someone else.
Many anti-aging exercises are very gentle and relaxing such as Yoga, Qigong, and Tai chi movements which benefit cardiovascular health and brain functioning just as well as High Intensity training and Cardio programs.
Get Your Brain Energy Blueprint in Your Inbox
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Now, besides not getting enough Cardio movement and exercise, and having too sedentary a lifestyle, other things can also lead to you having poor circulation such as Adrenal Fatigue, Hypothyroidism, and Emotional Trauma that creates a Stress adaptation which can literally shut off your Vagus nerve.
When your Vagus nerve shuts down, many blood vessels become constricted, blocking proper blood flow, and your heart organ can also like literally shut down as a survival adaptation to chronic stress, toxic and abusive relationships, poor self image, fear, shame and guilt, and many other psychological mechanisms that we may have learned from our childhood or young adult experiences that can continue to shut down our Vagus nerve, and block proper blood flow to our brain.
Learn how to relax and love yourself completely to help with the production and release of oxytocin and endorphins which all boost brain activity and new brain cell formation. Love yourself and Love your brain!
By studying Yoga and Asian Meditation or Qigong practices, the point in the center of the chest called the “Heart Chakra” in Ayurveda or “Middle Dan Tian” in Chinese Taoist practices, can help to resolve old stress patterns, and wake up the Vagus nerve, leading to more cardiac output and just a general improvement in circulation and blood oxygenation as the Lungs and Heart work together to pump and oxygente the blood.
Breathing really big and deep and letting out a big sigh has the effect of relaxing the brain, and activating the Vagus nerve.
Yawning really big also has the same effect.
You can also tap with your finger tips or a loose fist right onto the sternum to help wake up the heart and get the blood moving.
Think King Kong or Tarzan, beating their chest and yelling really loudly!
Fix Your Diet & Repair Your GUT-BRAIN Axis
Neurologists are now pretty much saying that…your brain is literally in your gut!
Your Gut is such a dominant force on the brain, that modern science is just starting to catch on to this new idea, since there are even more serotonergic neurons and receptors in your digestive system than there is in your brain.
And if you continue to eat the wrong foods, leading to gut inflammation, well than your brain is going to suffer the consequences, almost immediately.
As soon as you eat the wrong foods, your brain may instantly start declining, putting you into that famed “food coma” .
Now eating in general can cause more of your body’s blood supply to be transported to your digestive organs like your stomach, pancreas, and intestines and so your brain will naturally have a temporary blood shortage as the blood is being held in your abdomen to help with digestion and nutrient assimilation.
However, when you eat the wrong foods, your but will suffer, and your gut literally helps to control a major brain of your nervous system, brain stem and therefore all of your brain functions can be compromised by poor gut health.
Conversely, when you have any damage to your brain or nervous system, caused by environmental toxins, poor circulation, or even whiplash and head injuries, then you digestive system will shut down even more, creating a spiraling degenerative pattern that can leave both your brain and your gut severely compromised.
In order to improve your brain function, you have to improve your Gut health and digestive system.
But in order to improve the Digestive system and Gut motility, you have to help improve the Brain health.
The truth is that you have to work on both simultaneously, since they are so intertwined and interdependent on one another, so that knowledgable doctors neurologists can hardly see any distinction between these two seemingly separate organ systems.
Neurologically, it is all connected.
When I perform Chi Nei Tsang and Hara Abdominal Massage, I am both helping to wake up the internal organs and intestines, but I am also working directly on the brain and brain stem by working on the Vagus nerve and stimulating the Parasympathetic branch of the nervous system.
My clients are very relaxed after this type of treatment which helps to body go into Repair mode and help to heal the Leaky Gut and the Compromised Blood Brain Barriers, while also helping the Liver, Stomach and Pancreas all release more Bile, stomach acids and Digestive enzymes.
Peristalsis is the name of the game, when it comes to improving Gut health and Brain health, together as one.
Seems simple, right?
Well, I’ll tell you…cleansing and healing the gut can feel worse then being hit with a ton of bricks!
That is precisely because when you have Leaky Gut Syndrome, and if you try to kill off all of these pathogens and Candida overgrowth, well they start releasing all sorts of nasty poisons and exudates while they are dying off (it is known as “DIE-OFF”!!) and this produces some pretty uncomfortable sensations as if you catching a cold, or a flu, you get body aches, headaches, joint flareups, abdominal pains and bloating and gas…..
But you need to do iT.
If you do not kill off these nasty bugs and organisms that live in nasty slimes called biofilms inside your gut, well then they are just gonna keep inflaming your gut, and cause horrible things like autoimmune conditions like rheumathoid arthritis or Multiples Sclerosis or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, or skin conditions like Acne or Eczema or Psoriasis.
This chronic bacterial and candida overgrowth can get into your brain and do all sorts of damage, leading to brain fog, poor memory and exhaustion.
When this SIBO and Candida get so bad, they will make your belly ache all the time and make it so you can hardly eat any food without wishing you were dead!!
So…you just have to cleanse your gut!
If you know what’s good for you!
You can help to reduce inflammation in a number of ways, but I prefer the old fashioned method of putting more antioxidants into my food such as spices like Turmeric, Ginger, Fennel, and Cumin…you know Indian cooking spices, like you are cooking Indian curry.
Those ancient cultures understood the gut and microbiome, and they developed recipes and ways of cooking to help improve the digestive system with fragrant spices and herbs…
That’s how Marco Polo got so rich….spices!!
Meditate and Integrate
So, there must be about a million gurus out there all telling you to meditate and practice Mindfulness and Deep Breathing practices.
But, what does that mean?
Well, it’s true.
If you simply focus on your breathing and try to make sure that you are breathing even deeper, slower and longer on the inhale, (and therefore getting even more oxygen into your blood and into your brain) you should start feeling much more calm and grounded, and your brain will actually start to operate much better as a result.
The problem is that we don’t always remember to do this throughout the day.
So, I tell my 1-on-1 clients that if they truly want to start feeling better and having more mental clarity, and more energy, they need to block out time each day, say 15 to 20 minutes, where they don’t do any thing but sit in a nice comfortable chair, or lie down somewhere, closing their eyes, and just focus on breathing deeper and longer inhales and deeper and longer exhales.
You want to start by trying to inhale for 5 seconds….1…..2…..3…..4…..5…..
Then repeat that breathing pattern for several minutes.
After a while you should be able to do it for 8 seconds….then 12 seconds…..then up to 20 seconds on the inhale…..and 20 seconds on the exhale.
The longer and slower you can breathe…
The more brain power you will develop, the stronger your Lungs and diaphragm will get, the more calm and grounded will become.
And being Calm and Grounded is the foundation for your brain health, focus, memory, and mental endurance that will help you accomplish more projects in less time than you ever thought possible.
Being Calm and Grounded also helps you to think things through and not react quite so fast with knee-jerk emotional responses that can get you into trouble and just create more stress in your life and on your brain and nervous system.
The whole point of these breathing exercises is to help you relax and “shed” old emotional stress energy patterns that can actually remain stuck in your body and subconsciously be binding up your energy and not allowing you to fully express yourself or use your full brain power potential.
Sometimes there are old experiences that can get trapped in our deeper parts of our mind and our subconscious that cause deep blockages in our mental health and even our digestive system and nervous system can suffer as a result of old and unresolved experiences and emotional states that need to be fully experienced, expressed completely and therefore released, allowing allo f that trapped energy to get freed up and circulate and integrate with your conscious awareness and you self perceptual awareness may need to integrate an even deeper understanding of ourselves into our emotional awareness of who we are and what we have been through in the past.
Breaking through these mental and emotional blockages can at times be painful and make your whole body feel like you are going through a transformational experience, that can be scary and unnerving at times.
And that is why we have the practices that help us get back into our bodies, like deep breathing, and eating and cooking, and simple activities that help to integrate our past experiences into our present body’s and minds.
I don’t like my clients getting stuck in the past as this can create a whole new set of mental and emotional blockages, but instead we just want to relive old experiences just enough to integrate the past, with present, so we can forge a new future with even more of our brain power and mental awareness that will give us even more ability to sense with knowing what is correct in our lives and how to pivot correctly to help us get out of a bad situation, or open up new possibilities that we didn’t even realize was available to us before.