Why Is Happiness So Elusive? - #EVOO - Blog #94
Happy Friday Everyone! Today I wanted to address happiness and the health of our brain. Ask yourself, are you happy? Are you waiting for something to happen, and then you'll be happy? Who's really in charge - you or your brain? Is our happiness being sabotaged without us even knowing it? Let's delve in.
We don’t really even think about our brain until we are in dire straits. Most of us set goals and work toward them with the thought that once we attain them, we will then achieve happiness. We throw ourselves into work, thinking we are “doing good.” However, many times at the expense of family time - and even taking care of ourselves. We are doing many things that harm our brain - anything that lowers O2 (oxygen) harms the brain. Did you know that the more fat you have on your body, the smaller the brain gets? Dr. Daniel Amen states "that should scare the fat off anybody!" “There are 140 studies that report as your weight goes up the actual physical size and function of your brain goes down.” WHAT?!!! We are staying up late not getting enough sleep, under chronic stress, consuming massive amounts of sugar and highly processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and even drugs to try to make ourselves feel better. Why do you think it's called "comfort food?" It makes us feel better in the moment, but often worse in the long run.
We are constantly searching for something to get that dopamine hit - snacking, porn, drugs, alcohol, smoking, and scrolling social media, for example. This affects an area of the brain called the Nucleus Accumbens. Its function "is to combine motivation along with motor action and convey pertinent information to the motor cells to get a certain reward or feeling of satisfaction." It is the addiction center of the brain. This is what the big food companies have highjacked. They KNOW their food is addictive. It’s the intent - to sell as much of their product as possible and make the most money. They hire taste experts and analyze their brain's response until this area lights up bright - hitting the highest dopamine response to formulate their products. We comply by picking up that bag of chips, cookies or hot fries thinking “I’ll only have a few” only to realize 1500 calories in that we’ve emptied the bag. We are unaware that this is the intent. Ever wander around your kitchen trying to find "the thing" that will satisfy you?
We search out validation on social media that supports our own thoughts and beliefs - to our own detriment. We hit that dopamine button hard over and over wearing it out. We can quickly become dopamine-deficient - leaving us tired, moody, anxious, lacking motivation, depressed, hopeless - and we just don't get pleasure from things that used to give us pleasure. We need MORE just to get that feeling. If we remove these things for a period of time - let's say removing sugar from the diet - the pleasure you'll get from that piece of birthday cake will be fantastically satisfying and enjoyable. But if you eat birthday cake every day, it's just not going to give you the pleasure you are seeking. This can happen with anything - sex, social media, drugs, alcohol - any behavior.
A major problem in our society is that the food industry has literally implemented the real weapons of mass destruction - the SAD (Standard American Diet) bombards us at every turn with highly-processed, high-glycemic, low-fiber, nutrient-deficient, pesticide-sprayed, high-caloric, food-like substances stored in plastic containers - and now coated with APEEL!!!! But don’t worry. We have drugs to give you - like blood pressure and statins. We have surgeries we can perform - like lap band and gastric bypass. WHAT???!!!! They are getting rich off of our illness - and as a nation the illnesses are rising across the board. Our children are extraordinarily affected - they are smaller and haven’t fully developed so these chemicals are more toxic to them. we know this because 12 year olds are having to have liver transplants from all the soda (high-fructose corn syrup) they consume. They are suffering liver disease without ever having a sip of alcohol!
Further, these foods highjack the brain - primarily the pre-frontal cortex - the place of decision-making - the boss. We think we are in control - but pass by that Starbucks counter with the lovely croissants and delicacies and we can’t resist. Did you know that there are ~ 11 teaspoons of sugar in one venti Frappuccino?!! 😳 13 teaspoons if you add caramel - and ZERO fiber to offset that sugar. Now add some “breakfast” let's say a chocolate croissant - that’s an additional 8 teaspoons of sugar + 18g fat. So, just with this breakfast there are ~ 20 teaspoons of sugar! Your body works to maintain ~ 1 teaspoon of sugar in the bloodstream at all times. Our poor pancreas is working overtime - 20x harder - the mitochondria in our liver are exhausted from trying to convert glucose into energy - they can’t keep up! They end up producing an overwhelming level of ROS (reactive oxygen species) that drives inflammation and rather than ATP is stored as fat.
What does this fat do? It behaves like an organ, producing inflammatory cytokines, converts testosterone into cancer-promoting estrogens, stores toxins, contributes to premature aging, and decreases oxygen to the brain. This is one of the reasons we are all unwell and society is so divided. We are not thinking clearly. Did you know that 93% of Americans are metabolically unwell? This means that 93% of us adults have at least one condition such as high blood sugar, insulin-resistance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia or Alzheimer’s, have a fatty liver, have had a heart attack, stroke or are overweight - >70% of us are overweight (>25% BMI) and ~ 42% of adults are OBESE (30%+ BMI) and that has climbed at a shocking 3% from March 2020 - March 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pharmaceutical industry is making billions of $ on our unwellness. This puts us at risk for all disease processes - because we are in a state of oxidative stress and chronically inflamed - not just for non-communicable diseases, but leaves us susceptible to contracting a cold, flu, Covid-19 or any other pathogen or pandemic that comes our way.
These toxic, chemically-sprayed, food-like substances are destroying our metabolism and disrupting our hormones are the major contributing factor to why testosterone levels in men have dropped by 50% over the last few decades. Our children’s hormones and brains are massively affected by this diet laced with harmful chemicals - such as glyphosate - they aren’t sure if they are a girl or a boy. Companies are adjusting to this by marketing and making billions - embrace and celebrate your fatness! Meanwhile, teen suicide is rising. Teenagers look at social media ALL THE TIME - even while they are in the classroom. Girls are looking at their bodies and comparing themselves to the ‘unreal beautiful’ people they see - they hate their bodies and don’t have the brain development to understand what’s happening.
“A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looking at mental health and suicidal behaviors from 2011 to 2021 indicates that 13% of high school girls had attempted suicide (30% had seriously considered it). That jumped to more than 20% for LGBTQ+ teens (45% had seriously considered it).”
“The CDC report paints a picture of U.S. high school students in distress. An increasing number of students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2021, including 57% of girls (up from 36% in 2011), 29% of boys, and 69% of LGBTQ+ students.”
What if you could calm your mind, literally take control back? Focusing on enhancing brain health can benefit your health and your happiness - more than anything else. Why? Your brain controls your behavior. Your brain is powerful - your thoughts are powerful. Your brain can heal you. What we think we become. If you talk negatively to yourself, your "self" is listening - you will be a more negative person. Why? Your thoughts directly control your genes! The brain converts your thoughts into complementary chemistry. The chemicals our brain produces can harm us if negative or heal us when positive. We are not disciplined thinkers. We need to ask ourselves, is what I just thought true? These thoughts we have are literally the cause of our suffering and unhappiness. For example, you may think "my husband never listens to me" - ask yourself is that true? Now flip it to the opposite -"he does listen to me" - is that true? When you meditate on that, you'll realize the error in your thinking.
Our brain is literally the CEO of our body! If you want to achieve happiness, feel better, be healthier - improve your brain health. So how do we do this? There are many brain experts out there who recommend observing the thoughts you have and changing the way you think. Let's investigate a few ways to make this happen.
- Remove processed sugar from your diet - it directly damages blood vessels and organs - use a drizzle of honey, maple syrup or few drops of monk fruit or stevia.
- Remove highly-processed foods - they are food-like substances that drive metabolic disease and harm our brain - eat whole single-ingredient foods.
- Remove alcohol - any amount of alcohol increases your risk of at least 7 types of cancer - mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon/rectal, breast and “probably” stomach - and likely more - destroys the white matter (information highway system) interfering with information transfer and memory, impairs critical thinking causing problems with relationships, decreases O2 to the brain and interferes with right thinking. It poisons our mitochondria increasing inflammation and initiates neurodegeneration. Our body lays amyloid plaques to squelch the fire, further disrupting information highways.
- Stop smoking - this lowers oxygen to the brain and all other organs and tissues of the body - not to mention massive chemicals and carcinogens that lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer and many other health issues.
- Do a digital detox for the weekend - or several days to a week or even longer - give your brain a rest from constant email and text notifications that negatively activate your nervous system triggering the fight or flight response, as well as screen time with blue light and leaves you rejuvenated. You can implement this during a vacation time or a long weekend, giving your family and friends a heads up that you won't be answering emails, texts, calls - or implement over a holiday where you can spend quality time in person with people you care about. When you do this, you'll be shocked with how much more time you have for creativity, calmness, relaxation, and being in nature. The break is much-needed for all of us and can open up new possibilities in our lives we wouldn’t have even noticed otherwise.
- Avoid watching the news and being on social media on a constant basis - we are manipulated by the media - this can cause divisiveness within our family and friends - leaving us feeling isolated and sad.
- Make a pact with your teenagers to keep their phones off during school and limit social media time. “Children and adolescents who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media face double the risk of mental health problems including experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is concerning as a recent survey showed that teenagers spend an average of 3.5 hours a day on social media.”
- Remove your 1 worst habit - this is more powerful for your health than adding in several healthy habits. Try for 4 weeks and see how you feel. You may see tremendous benefits in your health and brain and want to keep this out of your life for good.
- Commit to an earlier bedtime and enhance your sleep. Our brain and body heal when we sleep - particularly between the hours of 9pm-3am. This is when we get the most brain-cleaning through the glymphatic system. It is also when (for men) 80% of testosterone is released.
- Exercise - increases O2 to the brain as well as the body - the brain is only about 4% of our body weight but utilizes nearly 25% of our O2 and energy (ATP). Exercise increases delivery of O2 and elimination of waste - improves our ability to detoxify and increases our muscles’ ability to remove glucose from the blood without the requirement of insulin.
- Get to know your brain - look at your brain as a separate entity. Some neuroscientists even name their brain to represent a misbehaving pet that toilet-papers the bathroom and makes a mess, for example - evaluate how you currently think and act to change that thinking, particularly if you tend to be negative. Find gratefulness, forgiveness, love and compassion for yourself. We all have our own journey. Look back at where you began and see the progress you have made personally, rather than comparing yourself to others. There's always someone smarter, more successful, more accomplished - educate others and give back. This brings joy and happiness.
- Prevent gum disease - floss your teeth, scrape your tongue. It is now realized that underneath those amyloid plaques in the brain are microbial biofilms. Pathogens access the tiny blood vessels at the gum line to make their way to the brain. Disrupting the biofilms daily with floss at the gum line prevents this. Our oral microbiome lives at the back of the tongue by the gag reflex. Scraping our tongue removes the pathogenic microbes that tend to populate the front 2/3 or so and strengthens our fighting team. You’ll also have better breath!
- Eliminate toxins from makeup and body products, household cleaning products - check your house for mold. Get a HEPA filter for your indoor air and a reverse osmosis water filter to remove fluoride, plastics and other toxins.
- Increase omega 3s - DHA and EPA particularly - as the majority of fat in the brain is DHA. It is also highly susceptible to oxidation - and the brain contains low levels of antioxidants. In the brain, cell membranes are 70% fat. The rest of the body is 50%. Eat wild-caught fatty fish.
- Increase HP-EVOO (high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil) intake. Italians consume roughly 1L/person/week. Here are just some of the benefits!
- EVOO strengthens and protects the BBB (blood brain barrier) and your intestinal lining to prevent leaky gut and microbial biofilms from reaching the brain.
- EVOO is selectively antimicrobial - disrupts microbial biofilms, in vitro kills pathogenic gram-positive bacteria including MRSA ( methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), gram-negative bacteria, viruses and enhances beneficial microbes that populate our microbiome.
- Polyphenols protect the brain in multiple ways. EVOO directly improves synaptic activity, short-term plasticity and memory and is capable of growing new neurons. Polyphenols in EVOO, like oleocanthal, hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein and others have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Brain problems are ALWAYS inflammatory - meaning the brain is on fire! EVOO polyphenols protect against Alzheimer's dementia "Oleuropein offered protection against amyloid deposition in a human cell line that mimics familial systemic amyloidosis...Polyphenol oleuropein inhibits the cascade of amyloid-neuro inflammatory cascade that drives progression of Alzheimer's dementia - preventing aggregation of these plaques.:
- Polyphenols help prevent cancer. They work epigenetically to turn off cancer genes and turn on health-promoting and longevity genes. “Polyphenols in EVOO alter microRNAs in cancer cells, while hydroxytyrosol appears to exert strong antiproliferative effects in human colon adenocarcinoma cells.”
- EVOO polyphenols enhance mitochondrial function - they are making our energy! Polyphenols promote mitophagy (mitochondrial clean up and repair system) helps to uncouple mitochondria, telling them to divide and make more mitochondria to meet the energy demands of the brain.
- EVOO polyphenols enhance bone health. “Hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol appeared to have a positive effect on bone health.” They inhibit osteoclastic activity and promote osteoclastic activity.
- EVOO protects against cardiovascular disease - inhibits platelet adhesion, enhances vasodilation, improves endothelial health and lipoprotein composition. EVOO polyphenols protect the heart. "Oleuropein protected in a dose-dependent fashion against loss of ejection fraction and cardiac output due to myocardial infarction at 24 h and 5 weeks.”
- EVOO promotes autophagy - the body's clean up and repair system. Combined with intermittent fasting, exercise and sleep, it becomes a powerful tool to promote a healthy lifespan and longevity.
- EVOO provides vitamins and phytonutrients, containing 80x the amount of vitamin E and 200x amount of vitamin K as found in coconut oil. “ α-Tocopherol is able to neutralize free radicals and prevent peroxidation of membrane lipids and low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). β-tocopherol (15–20%) and γ-tocopherol (7–23%) are present in smaller proportions.” EVOO also contains many other phytonutrients such as β-carotene, lutein, lycopene, pheophytin A and B with improved bioavailability over that of eating fruits and vegetables. Drizzling EVOO over your veggies significantly increases the bioavailability of your food!!!
So, until next time my friends…Drink, Drizzle, Digest HP-EVOO at least 4T raw daily, - use more for cooking and drizzling onto your food - eat the rainbow of organic or wild-sourced or organic veggies (7-9 C) and low-glycemic fruits (to get the rainbow of gut microbes!) - eat wild-caught, pasture-raised, grass-fed - get plenty of sunshine - supplement magnesium, zinc, vitamin D3 + K2 - get your trace minerals and electrolytes with good sea salt - Celtic is hand-harvested and Himalayan was formed before plastics - eat foods high in lutein - drink your body weight in oz of water - get a good pre/probiotic - consume digestible and indigestible fiber for your gut microbes - adaptogens (such as mushrooms) and methylation donors (kale, beets, spinach, cruciferous, lion’s mane…), marjoram, rosemary, oregano, parsley and other herbs to detox, enhance overall health and reverse aging and disease - exercise your body and mind - add a few minutes of mindful meditation to your day to combat stress - take a hot Epsom salt bath and follow with a cold shower/ice plunge - practice “earthing” as an anti-inflammatory - remove EMF (electromagnetic frequency) devices and blue light - use IR (infrared) from incandescent lighting, non-toxic candle or light a fire to enhance sleep and...turn off the light!! #HP-EVOO