I used to experience consistent periods of extreme brain fog that no amount of coffee would burn through. It was causing complications in my life around not being able to communicate, especially in my relationships. It was limiting my ability to focus and get the things done I needed to and I didn’t know why. We know today that our daily eating, sleeping, and movement routines affect overall health and largely determine our risk for disease.
So why write another blog on intermittent fasting? Odds are that your eating schedule is contributing to your inability to heal, to access your true vitality, and…… because it works.
Our society is experiencing extreme amounts of cognitive diseases and I believe we can make a difference through changing our behaviors, especially around condensing feeding windows. There is a reason behind the first habit I teach in my group program around eating dinner earlier…..The reason is we thrive on connecting our biological rhythms to natures circadian rhythms, and according to some research by Satchin Panda of the Salk Institute and author of “The Circadian Code”, 90% of people don’t follow a rhythmic eating schedule. So below I want to share how rhythmic eating, aka, intermittent fasting helped me, how I began to do it, and my four pillars to staying cognitively healthy.
First I want to share what has changed for me since I began doing this. Here are the most notable.
- I can fast without getting HANGRY! Crucial for traveling, road trips, work, ability to perform and get sh!t done. Also nice for other people!
- Better digestion and overall gut health – resulting in better skin health.
- Increase of cognitive function.
- Better quality sleep – needed for long-term neurological health.
- Increased ability to respond consciously rather than my default reactions. Still a work in progress…. Definitely not perfect.
- Decreased inflammation in my body, especially my joints… I had achy joints and knee pain for years.
- Yoga students and course members who do this also begin to loose excess weight, entering ideal body mass index from following the four pillars.
How I do it
You guessed it… I choose to eat my dinner earlier and my breakfast later. Most days of the week I have my first meal, aka breakfast, around 10 – 11am. This is at least 4 hours after I get out of bed, have moved my body, hydrated, had a bowel movement, and some time for meditation and coffee. This is in alignment with the well researched 16/8 regimen. For more on what those practices look like you can start the free start your day right video series.
Dinner time is consistently around 5-6 pm, and once a week as early as 3-4pm. It doesn’t always happen exactly as I want which is totally fine. I believe it is what we do MOST of the time that leads us to the results we want. This routine has evolved over the years and changes slightly depending on where I am and what season it is.
My four pillars for – but not limited to – cognitive health
Move – Breathe – Rest – Nourish
Movement increases brain regeneration and cognitive function through the production of the protein – BDNF. Movement should be integrated into your lifestyle for a long and healthy life. Not just isolated to and hour workout a few times a week. If you don’t have time for long exercises try short bursts of high intensity movements. Start small with 30 second bursts and turn on our body.
Breathing invokes the air and space elements cleansing the nervous system and mind. Space in the mind allows you make better decisions rather than unconscious reactions. My favorite breathing techniques are boxed breathing, alternate nostril, and bhramari pranayama. To do boxed breathing simply inhale, hold, exhale, and hold, all with the same count. I recommend to start with 6 or 8 count before lengthening. Alternate nostril is a traditional yogic breathing technique that works very well. Bhramari is another favorite and very simple. To do this, breathe in slowly and exhale out the nose with a soft hum from the back of the throat. Similar to the sound of a bumble bee. Continuing for 3 – 5 minutes.
This pillar includes sleep, meditation, and time to do nothing at all. Rest changes the brainwaves out of beta into the aware states of alpha. From there into the slow moving and restorative cycles of delta and theta. We need them all and time for rest is when we create opportunities to integrate life.
Nourishment includes periods of eating and not eating. The times of not eating help the body sweep up the garbage, and the re-feeding turns on the detox pathways to take out the garbage, figuratively speaking. Re-feeding with proper nutrients is crucial and should not be over-looked. Here is why. The brain requires specific nutrients to work well and your detox pathways, especially phase2 in the liver, needs it’s own specific nutrients. So when it’s time to re-feed be sure to choose an abundance of fresh vibrant foods to maximize the variety of nutrients. Intermittent fasting also enhances the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel, creating a superior clean burning energy. This helps access stored energy in the body creating slower burning cognitive enhancing fuel.
Health and nutrition is multi leveled and from the information above you can see how it includes so much more than calories and ingredients. When your routines are in sync with nature you create the environment for healthy gene expression for living a long and healthy life. Apply the four pillars and see how it begins to burn through the brain fog, supercharging your energy and enhance the quality of your life.
Questions? Leave a comment.
Want to learn how to shift your routines? Schedule a free chat with me.