Left vs. Right Brain—two very different approaches to reality!

Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist. He has spent years studying the human brain through case studies of his patients and a detailed examination of scientific research Iain believes the brain is divided into two hemispheres so that it can produce two different views of reality. One of the hemispheres, the right, focuses on the big picture. The left focuses on details. Both are essential. If you can’t see the big picture, you don’t understand what you’re doing. If you can’t home in on the details, you can’t accomplish the simplest tasks. This fundamental difference in orientation turns out to have profound consequences for everything the two hemispheres do.

Fascinating Podcast—listen here:


Serotonin—the feel good brain chemical!

What is serotonin?
Serotonin is a chemical messenger in your brain that helps us feel happy and grounded. It also has a significant impact on sleep quality. Much research has been done to show how powerful serotonin can be for overall health, body and mind! And, good news, there are a lot of ways to increase serotonin naturally—

Serotonin comes from tryptophan. You can get serotonin from eating certain types of food such as: eggs, pineapple, cheese, tofu, nuts & seeds, salmon, and turkey, to name a few. Natural supplements can also increase serotonin levels, including L-Tryptophan, SAM-e or Saint John’s Wort. Consult your doctor to find out if these are the right supplements for you.

Other ways to boost your serotonin include:
*Exercise— Research shows that regular exercise can have antidepressant effects.

*Sunshine—Light therapy is a remedy for seasonal depression. Research shows a clear relationship between bright light and serotonin levels. Get out and go for a walk in the sunshine. You can also buy a special light for use indoors—see this article for guidance on the best light options:

*Positivity—Maintaining a positive attitude can significantly boost your serotonin levels. Surround yourself with positive-minded folks whenever possible— your brain chemistry will thank you.

*Treat your gut with respect–Believe it or not more serotonin is made in the gut than in the brain! Eat a high-fiber diet to grow healthy gut bacteria, which new research shows affect serotonin levels through the gut-brain connection. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, keifer, kim chi, kombucha, miso and other natural products give your gut a major head start in terms of serotonin production. Supplemental probiotics may also be of value.

Grain drains the brain!

Interesting article from Dr. Perlmutter’s amazing book GRAIN BRAIN. Here is a pretty stark statement: “A diet heavy in inflammatory carbs and low in healthy fats messes with the mind in more ways than on—affecting risk not just for dementia but for common neurological ailments such as ADHD, anxiety disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, mental illness, migraines, and even autism.”

In his book he has a variety of recipes and suggestions that support transitioning to a diet low in carbs. The testimonials from people that I know who have switched to no-grain diets have been extremely positive. Routinely folks report increased energy, clearer thinking, and improved digestion. Hmmmmmm—food for thought?

Super tune-up for Athletes

Sports performance is a specialty area within bio and neurofeedback. Just ask the Italian soccer players who did neurofeedback for peak performance leading up to their 2006 World Cup victory. The critical difference was the mental preparation via neurofeedback. The players learned to visualize their winning performance while maintaining a state of focused relaxation. In other words, they sharpened their Alpha-Theta brain waves and suddenly their game was unbeatable. Biofeedback taught them how to breathe efficiently, and how to balance their muscle action to prevent fatigue and burn out. You can employ the same strategies on the golf course or during the marathon.

Heart Rate Variability—Paradox?

We’re always hearing about how important it is to keep our heart rate low, right? Well that’s true. When you’re physically at rest, the ideal heart rate is between 60-80 beats per minute (bpm). However, Heart Rate Variability should actually be high. You see, Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a measure of the overall flexibility of your heart rate as it increases and decreases. The heart rate in a healthy person will change, sometimes dramatically, to accommodate the situation at a moment’s notice. When physically active, heart rate rapidly increases. At rest, the heart rate smoothly and efficiently slows down to match.

When a person is chronically stressed, the heart rate tends to become less flexibile. It might stay elevated even at rest. There will still be fluctuations, but they will be smaller and it will take the heart rate longer to respond to changes in the person’s activity. An example of low heart rate variability is someone who has a high heart rate even while sitting and “relaxing”. In fact, “relaxing” might feel like work when HRV is low.

At the root of HRV is the way we breathe. By using diaphramatic breathing, anybody can alter their heart rate’s flexibility, or HRV. Over time these systems, respiration and cardio, can learn to dance together and so create a high degree of heart rate variability. Results will be increased stamina, better focus, clearer thinking, and a sense of calm even in the midst of a storm.