Monday, October 26, 2015

10 Foods That Are Hurting Your Brain

Enjoy this article c/o Power of Positivity
In our world today, we constantly get bombarded with images and commercials advertising delicious, tempting, unhealthy foods.


Our society seems more focused on making ends meet, even at the cost of having an overweight, nutrient-deficient, lethargic population. Many of us work long hours, and don’t feel like making healthy foods when we get home. We want something quick, easy, and readily available to us, which usually means TV dinners and fast food.
Staying on track with a diet can seem utterly impossible when you walk into a store filled with more toxic, chemical-laden, nutrient-poor foods than healthy, nutritious, nurturing foods. However, even though having some things in moderation won’t really damage your health, consuming them on a regular basis can cause serious, even fatal, diseases. To have optimal health, you should avoid the following foods at all costs, or at least eat them very sparingly.

Here are 10 foods that are hurting your brain:


1. Tuna  

In a study performed earlier this year, University of Michigan researchers reported that mercury levels in yellowfin tuna had increased almost 4 percent annually from 1998 to 2008. Regular exposure to mercury can cause serious, sometimes irreversible, brain and nervous system damage. Our oceans have become contaminated with a dangerous cocktail of environmental pollutants, which the marine life inevitably absorb. When we consume seafood nowadays, most of it will contain several toxic heavy metals which our bodies simply don’t digest or absorb properly.
An analysis by health experts at the magazine Consumer Reports found that a 140 pound woman would exceed safe mercury exposure by consuming just 4.5 ounces of tuna per week. A 48 pound child who eats more than one-third a can of tuna per week, or the equivalent of the amount on a single tuna sandwich, could suffer permanent brain damage from mercury exposure.
If you do choose to eat tuna, go for canned light tuna rather than albacore, as this kind contains less mercury. Better yet, you could cut out seafood entirely, or go for shrimp, scallops, sardines, or wild and Alaskan salmon, which all have low levels of mercury.

2. Partially hydrogenated oils

If you see hydrogenated oils on a label, please do yourself a favor and put the product back on the shelf. Hydrogenated oils have no place in the human body, and some studies have even found that the oils leave scars on the internal walls of the arteries due to nickel often used in the hydrogenation process. That’s right; partially hydrogenated oils contain a catalyst of some sort in order to heat the oil up faster, and nickel, platinum, or even aluminum are used in the process. Heavy metals such as these have been linked to Alzheimer’s and other mental problems, so anything with partially hydrogenated oils should be avoided at all costs.
Hydrogenated oil is only one molecule away from plastic, so think about the adverse effects you could experience from consuming this toxic man-made concoction.

3. Sugar

Of course. naturally occurring sugar from fruits and starches is perfectly fine to consume, but when it is extracted and added back into processed foods, then it becomes a problem. Refined sugar, for one, doesn’t contain any nutritional benefits, so it’s just empty calories at the end of the day. In various studies, refined sugar has also been linked to an increase in anxiety, depression, and addiction, and a decrease in learning and memory. 

4. Fructose

Naturally occurring fructose found in fruit will not harm your health; it only becomes an issue when you eat fructose out of its natural state, such as in boxed or canned foods. Consuming too much processed fructose can lead to insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, a fatty liver, high blood pressure, and much, much more. Not to mention, fructose can cause neural activity to stagnate for up to 20 minutes, according to a 2011 study on the impact of glucose and fructose on the brain.


5. Saturated fats

Most people know that a diet high in saturated fat can clog the arteries and contribute to heart disease and strokes, but did you know that a diet heavy in saturated fat can impair cognitive function as well? A study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that consuming large amounts of saturated fat can lead to reduced cognitive function and also a dulling of the dopamine reward system, increasing dependency and addiction to unhealthy foods.
According to Stephanie Fulton, a professor at the University of Montreal’s Department of Nutrition, “Our research shows that independent of weight gain and obesity, high-fat feeding can cause impairments in the functioning of the brain circuitry profoundly implicated in mood disorders, drug addiction, and overeating — several states and pathologies that impinge on motivation and hedonia.”


6. Processed foods

Processed foods usually have a laundry list of chemicals, some of which have been linked to mental and behavioral disorders. Aside from the dangers of the ingredients, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2012 found that consuming a diet high in fatty processed foods can even lead to damage in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates hunger and thirst levels.


7. Fast food

More and more studies have been published about the detrimental effects of fast food on the body, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise why fast foods can cause so much damage. These “foods” have been stripped of almost all nutrients, and altered drastically from their natural state. A better way to describe them would be “food like substances,” because these culinary inventions really don’t resemble food at all. Fast foods lack many vitamins and minerals, including iron; iron deficiency might lead to poorer scores on tests in students who regularly consume fast food.


8. Microwave popcorn

Another highly processed food, this one causes even more damage due to the way in which one must prepare it. Not only does the popcorn contain toxic chemicals and additives, but popping it in a microwave strips the food of any nutrients that might be left, increases white blood cell levels, and creates carcinogens. Not to mention, the radioactive emissions generated from the microwave can lead to a slew of mental health problems.


9. Cookies and chips

Another form of refined, processed food, cookies and chips have pretty much zero nutritional benefits, but add on unnecessary calories. If you want a snack, go for some fresh fruit or vegetables to avoid all the chemicals and extra sugar in these highly addictive foods.






10. Corn syrup

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, consuming drinks or foods with high fructose corn syrup disrupts the part of the brain that tells us when we’re full, which leads to eating or drinking unneeded calories. Also, consuming free fructose (not in fruit) has been proven to be just as addictive as drugs, which means food marketers all over the place know this, and use this to take advantage of us.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

How Meditation Affects the Gray Matter of the Brain

Article c/o David R. Hamilton, Ph.D.
The Huffington Post

I like to meditate. It makes me feel at ease and I am convinced that the sense of calm it produces helps me to handle the daily challenges of my life. There are, of course, times when I don't keep up my daily practice of sitting quietly for 10 or 15 minutes, but these are the times in my life when I experience more stress.

Stress affects everyone. I don't know a single person who doesn't get stressed. But unfortunately, it plays a major role in illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in fact, up to 90 percent of doctor visits in the U.S. may be stress related. Meditation is an antidote to stress, just as an aspirin can counter a headache. A regular practice can be a major boost to health.

It calms the nervous system. It's good for the immune system. It's also good for the heart; it helps produce nitric oxide (not nitrous oxide -- that's laughing gas!) in the arteries, dilating them and reducing blood pressure. It also smooths heart rhythms.

But thanks to an explosion of brain research we now know that it also physically impacts our gray matter.

One study to show this was led by scientists at the Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience at Aarhus University in Denmark. Comparing MRI scans of the brains of meditators with the brains of non-meditators, they showed that meditation causes actual physical changes in the gray matter of the lower brain stem. Meditation makes the gray matter grow.

In another study, scientists Giuseppe Pagoni and Milos Cekic, from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, compared the volume of gray matter in the brains of people performing Zen meditations with another group who were not meditators.

The volume of our gray matter normally reduces as we get older and this is what the scientists found in the group of non-meditators. But for the meditators, their gray matter hadn't reduced at all with age. According to the scientists, meditation had a 'neuroprotective' effect on the meditators: It protected the brain from some of the effects of aging.

This mirrors some 2008 Harvard research that analyzed the genes of meditators against non-meditators. It was the first study of its kind to measure the genetic impact of meditation and found that 2,209 genes were differently activated in long-term meditation practitioners compared with non-meditators. And even looking at novice meditators, they found that 1,561 genes were affected after only eight weeks of meditation practice. They concluded that the genetic effects of meditation may have long-term physiological consequences, one of which was a slowing down of the rate of aging.

We have all heard the stories of people under extreme stress whose hair turns white in a matter of weeks. We know that stress can speed up aging. So why should it be a surprise to us that a technique to combat stress should be able to slow aging?

There are many different forms of meditation. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital examined the impact of the Buddhist 'Insight' meditation on the brain. Insight meditation is a technique of moving our attention over the body or focusing on our breathing. The study found that it caused an increase in thickness of the prefrontal cortex in the brain, the part just above the eyes and associated with attention.

Several areas of the brain are active when we meditate, but most pronounced is the prefrontal cortex because when we meditate we are focusing our attention on something -- whether that be the body, our breathing, a word, a candle or even a spiritual ideal. When this area is active, just like a muscle being exercised, it grows.

Neuroscientists use this analogy to describe the way the brain changes. When we exercise a muscle it becomes larger and denser with muscle mass. In a similar way, when we exercise any part of the brain, which we do when we meditate, it becomes larger and denser with neural mass -- gray matter. The phenomenon is known as neuroplasticity and describes how the brain actually changes throughout life.

When I attended university I learned that the brain is hardwired once we reach young adulthood. The analogy used is that when we are young, the brain is a bit like dough, which can be kneaded into various forms, but when we reach young adulthood we put the dough in the oven and it comes out with a bread crust on it. The brain is then 'hardwired,' we were taught.

But this analogy has since been abandoned. We now know that we never put the dough in the oven.
Our gray matter is ever-changing as we experience life; as we learn, walk, run, dance, and when we concentrate, as we do when we meditate.

Our gray matter is changing until the last seconds of our life. It grows even with our last breath.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Why People's Opinions of You Aren't Real

From keynote transformative speaker Kyle Cease, enjoy this short video showcasing the natural perceptions we have of ourselves and how to change them... 


Monday, October 5, 2015

12 Things Your Soul Wants You To Remember

Enjoy this great article c/o

Although it may feel like it, your soul is not separate from you. In truth, your soul is your true existence. We are simply shadows of all that we are, and so it’s easy to forget who we are, where we come from and all that we can be. Sometimes we need just a little reminder.

1. You are exactly where you a supposed to be
No matter the circumstance, no matter the ride that got you to where you are in this very present moment. The choices, the outcomes, the paths you could have taken and didn’t. Your soul wants you to know, that everything happens for a reason, and nothing happens by chance. Have faith, it will all work out.

2. Everything is temporary
Nothing lasts forever, the good the bad and the ugly, nothing is permanent. So be impermanent. Be like water and flow with the ups and downs of life.

3. Everything you need is already within you
Know yourself, sit with yourself and understand yourself. Everything you need, your strength, courage, compassion and love, all exists within. You have the choice as to which you need to find and bring out into the world.

4.You’re OK just as you are
The main goal of life is to not force change upon yourself or undergo a major transformation.
It is to be at peace with who you are at any given moment despite what you have done or not done; said or not said.  Transformation is a choice we all have, but it is not to be forced due to under satisfaction. True transformation comes first with acceptance.

5. Self worth is measured by you, and only you
If you constantly seek outside yourself for approval and validation, you will never be happy. We are all different and we all perceive things in different ways but your reputation is not something you can really control. Your reputation is not really in your hands, so stop trying to please everyone around you and start pleasing your own self.

6. When times get tough, change your perspective
All emotions of worry, strife, guilt regret and sadness come from not living in the present moment. It is only by experiencing the present moment to the fullest that we can shift our perspective and understand that life’s hiccups on a grand scale are minor.
To put it in perspective your incarnation in this lifetime and when it is done, will be summed up in an hour.
So that leads us to…

7. Live in the present 
Don’t dwell in the past or dream of the future. Find your passion and take action. The next moment in your life is not more important than this moment right now. Do today what you dream of later, and understand that your past actions were meant to occur so that you can learn and grow. So let them go, let them be and appreciate all that you have right now.

8. Release your fears
There are only two truths in the entire universe, the first is Love and the second is Fear. In equal opposition to each other.
In order to dwell in a state of true and pure love, the essence of existence and life itself, one must not carry fear.

9. Release your need for control
Holding on to the fallacy that you can have control over the outcomes of life is an illusion that you have created for yourself. We do not know what the future will bring and we cannot perceive to understand the consequences of each action and reaction, therefore we must Love without attachment, live without expectation and perceive without judgment.

10. Remember where you come from
When you know the beginning, you will know the end– When we understand that our consciousness is eternal we understand that we are in fact energy.
An energy, a soul, a consciousness that is always evolving, learning and growing. With each incarnation comes new lessons, and new experiences. We come from energy and to energy we will return.

11. Accept
By placing your disposition into a state of acceptance, acceptance of all that is good and bad. You release your need for control, you release your fears and you release your expectations in order that you can live in the present moment.
Without acceptance, nothing can flourish. This is true prayer, not asking for what you want– the desires of your heart, but accepting all of life’s blessings and giving gratitude for everything in return. A cycle of love that continues growing.

12. You are never alone
It is said that Albert Einstein believed that there was indeed an alternate reality or another world, beyond our own vision. As the physical eyes were only capable of viewing the 3D spectrum in a limited amount of colors.
What is beyond the veil of our physicality is energy. Immense energy, sometimes you can feel it, other times you may pick up slight irregularities. We are never truly alone. You are always surrounded by the unseen, and if and when you choose to call out, trust me, you might just be surprised with an answer.

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