As we all know change isn’t an easy step to take, but once the process has begun, the benefits will always outweigh the cost. Here are three vital areas that will transform your life for the better, if you take the first steps towards progress.
Change your diet: According to research, eating a high carbohydrate and low protein diet will actually increase the frontal lobe function (1). The frontal lobe is better known as the control center. As we are discussing this month on self-control and change, this part of the brain is crucial to improve. It is responsible for problem solving, critical thinking, as well as our communication. Research reveals that drastic changes in diet however will cause temporary frontal lobe disturbances, but persevering through it will bring a long-lasting benefit in overall health (2). Comparing the effects of three liquids on the frontal lobe make the argument for intelligent eating clearer.
Alcohol impairs the function of the frontal lobe causing poor decision making like making drunk texts or calls to ex-lovers, reckless decision making like riding a mechanical bull after a few shots, and impairs the formation of new memories which is why you don’t know why said ex-lover is angry with you and your whole body hurts the next day.
Coffee’s effect on your body is not nearly as entertaining to write about. Focusing on the ingredient of concern, caffeine, science tells us that this chemical found in coffee affects the neurotransmitters in our brain, which then retroactively has negative effects. “Other psychiatric diseases—with profound frontal lobe effects—may result from the unbalancing of brain communications by caffeine. This is particularly true of depression. Decreased frontal lobe function and blood flow appear to be a characteristic of depression…” (3). Additionally, the high sugar content often found in the more eccentric coffee drinks result in dehydration, which also has a great effect on the frontal lobe. Generally speaking, caffeine over stimulates the brain like when you plug an American appliance into a Korean wall socket. The result is an impaired frontal lobe.
Water is essential to the proper function of the whole body, especially that sexy grey matter between your ears. “…brain function depends on having abundant access to water… Studies have shown that if you are only 1 percent dehydrated, you will likely have a 5 percent decrease in cognitive function. If your brain drops 2 percent in body water, you may suffer from fuzzy short-term memory, experience problems with focusing, and have trouble with math computations” (4).
It’s a scientific fact that there are foods and drinks that are comparatively better for your body and mind than others, so giving up something you like that isn’t good for your brain might help you make better decisions everywhere else in your life. A classic example of sacrificing the one to save many.
Change your routine: Probably one of the biggest struggles for people is getting up early. Sure we’ve all heard Benjamin Franklin’s little proverb, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” however, there is conflicting research out there concerning whether it makes one healthy, wealthy and wise. One thing is for certain, morning people are generally happier about life (5). This is likely to be related to the amount of sleep they get. On average young adults get less than 8 hours of good quality sleep. In fact, statistics show that those who have terrible sleep cycles are more prone to depression (6) and health problems. The National Center for Biotechnology Information indicates that “fatigue, less energy, worse perceived health and symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches and backaches” (7) might be the net result.
Your sleep schedule is only one routine worth considering. Getting rid of some unhealthy routine elements of your daily life or adding some good ones may be exactly what you need. Take some time to objectively look at your routine, take some notes and do some comparison to get the perspective you need.
Change how you view and treat people: Have you ever met a vegetarian or vegan who loves vegetables, loves fruits, loves animals, but hates people? I have a few times and it’s about as pleasant as getting your wisdom teeth pulled. There is a grand kind of irony in the person who tries to avoid using animals for anything but becomes more and more “animalistic” in their treatment of fellow human beings. A sad kind of irony, like pity or contempt.
That being said, it hardly matters if you’re a vegetarian, a vegan, or eat exclusively algae and nothing else. If you treat your fellow human beings horribly you can expect the venom of negativity to course through your veins thick and syrupy, rich in vitriol. Focusing on the facts we have available, it has been well documented that negative emotions affect personal health in a very tangible way. “For instance, individuals in demographic groups at greatest risk for coronary heart disease (e.g., men, African Americans, those with hostile personalities) show heightened and prolonged cardiovascular reactivity to negative emotions relative to those at lesser risk. Moreover, recurrent emotion-related cardiovascular reactivity appears to injure inner arterial walls, initiate atherosclerosis, and impair vascular responsiveness. To the extent that negative emotions generate cardiovascular reactivity that may damage people’s health, it becomes critical to discover effective ways to regulate negative emotions. Certainly, effective negative emotion regulation has multiple benefits beyond health promotion, including (but not limited to) enhanced subjective well-being and improved cognitive and social functioning. Positive emotions may hold a key to these various benefits” (8). All this and we’re not even touching the psychological effects yet, but don’t worry, all that negativity affects your brain much faster than your body, so expect to see a mental loss as a precursor to the physical deterioration.
The final determining factor isn’t limited to what you eat. The concept is strikingly familiar to something you read in the Bible,
It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man,
but what proceeds out of the mouth,
this defiles the man." Matt 15:11 NASB.
No matter how you feel about Christianity or Jesus, this is sage advice for our topic. But there is one person missing from this talk about treating others better. You.
Changing how you view and treat others is much easier when you start with viewing and treating yourself better. This doesn’t mean giving yourself a participation trophy every time you wash the dishes or run the vacuum, but it also doesn’t mean you can ignore all of your limitations. I’m not going to get all personal trainer or self-help guru on you here, it’s enough to say that honing your strengths and improving your weaknesses is the name of the game. Remember, making good decisions is like working a muscle; it gets stronger the more you work it. Also, if you have friends that are a bad influence on you, it might be time to find new friends. Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s almost never too late to start again.
Make healthy choices and it will transform your life.
Means L, Higgins J, Fernandez T. Mid-life onset of dietary restriction extends life and prolongs cognitive functioning. Physiol Behav 1993 Sep; 54(3):503-508
Lloyd H, Green M, Rogers P. Mood and cognitive performance effects of isocaloric lunches differing in fat and carbohydrate content. Physiol Behave 1994 Jul;56(1): 51-57
Excerpt from Dr. Neil Nedley’s, Proof Positive, in the Chapter: The Frontal Lobe: The Crown of the Brain
Boivin DB, Czeisler CA, et al. Complex interaction of the sleep –wake cycle and circadian phase modulates mood in healthy subjects. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1997 Feb;54(2):145-152
Roberts, Robert E., Catherine Ramsay Roberts, and Hao T. Duong. “SLEEPLESS IN ADOLESCENCE: PROSPECTIVE DATA ON SLEEP DEPRIVATION, HEALTH AND FUNCTIONING.” Journal of adolescence 32.5 (2009): 1045–1057. PMC. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
Fredrickson, Barbara L. et al. “The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions.” Motivation and emotion 24.4 (2000): 237–258.