Neuroscientists Share The Secrets Of Intermittent Fasting That The Health Industry Does Not Want You To Know

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

It has been known for decades that a calorie restricted diet without malnutrition increases longevity by a significant amount.

However intermittent fasting consists of alternate day fasting, or energy restriction. The current research uses various dietary protocols, from 4-day 50-calorie fasts, to fasting 24-48 hours while drinking only water and green tea, to alternate-day fasting where you eat a healthy, nutritious meal of 400-600 calories (green leafy vegetables, lean meats, nuts and fruit) followed by a feed day, where you eat anything you want. All these methods have similar results.

If intermitted fasting is done properly you don’t even have to have a great feed day. I have researched this subject extensively and it has shown without a shadow of a doubt that calorie restriction has amazing effects on the body, of course done in a structured way.

The monkey on the right was on a calorie restricted diet. (C and D)

In 2009, a 20-year longitudinal study of adult-onset calorie restriction in rhesus monkeys demonstrated that moderate calorie restriction lowered the incidence of aging-related deaths. At the time of reporting, 50% of control animals survived, compared with 80% of calorie restricted animals. Calorie restriction delayed the onset of several age associated pathologies such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and brain atrophy. The calorie restriction trial in primates raised hope that calorie restriction might be effective in humans.

Nevertheless, intermittent fasting resulted in beneficial effects that met or exceeded those of caloric restriction including reduced serum glucose and insulin levels and increased resistance of neurons in the brain to excitotoxic stress. Intermittent fasting therefore has beneficial effects on glucose regulation and neuronal resistance to injury.

Dietary changes have long been known to have an effect on the brain. Children who suffer from epileptic seizures have fewer of them when placed on caloric restriction or fasts. It is believed that fasting helps kick-start protective measures that help counteract the overexcited signals that epileptic brains often exhibit. (Some children with epilepsy have also benefited from a specific high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.) Normal brains, when overfed, can experience another kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function,
— Nature Reviews Neuroscience

We have been told to eat many small meals a day and that if we don't eat we will lose muscle mass, we will trigger the starvation reflex and put on more weight.  The research, which is already over 10 years old, is showing something remarkable different.

Matterson from John Hopkins university et al have reported that fasting is a challenge to the brain, and the brain responds to that challenge by adapting stress response pathways which help the brain cope with stress and risk for disease. The same changes that occur in the brain during fasting mimic the changes that occur with regular exercise. They both increase the production of protein in the brain (neurotrophic factors), which in turn promotes the growth of neurons, the connection between neurons, and the strength of synapses.

We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back.
— Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology Professor of Biological Sciences

Neuroscientists found that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage — a major side effect of chemotherapy — but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial involving patients receiving chemotherapy, long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then “flipped a regenerative switch,” changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.

Look at this video where Dr. Joseph Marcela talks about intermittent fasting.  He has a great article that gives even more detail.

You could read more details on the cyclical fasting here.  I learned a lot from Brad who was recommend to me by my Chiropractor.  I am now an affiliate for his Eat Stop Eat program, which  got me started.  Download this file if you want some fasting protocols that we use in our weight loss program.

How Mindful Meditation Can Improve Your Wellbeing

In 2016, life is busier than ever before and it’s getting harder and harder to pause for a breath or to take notice of what is going on around you. 

When you don’t pay attention to what is happening, your mental wellbeing takes a hit. You can easily start to feel nervous, anxious and stressed because things are spiralling out of your control.

People who are aware of every single thing that takes place around them have found a way to lower the stress in their lives. They are more peaceful than busy. We call their sense of awareness “mindfulness.” 

Mindfulness can be sought via mindful meditation. This practice helps us to enjoy more of life, and we learn the true reality of things rather than relying on our distorted perceptions. Instead of letting everything pass us by, we stop and take notice. We grow in knowledge and experience, and become richer for it.

What Is Mindful Meditation?

Mindful meditation means that we know exactly what is happening internally and externally at any moment. 

It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ - caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour.
— Former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre Professor Mark Williams

An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. 

That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs. Mindful meditation, then, is opening up your eyes so that you live in the present moment.

Too many of us live in the future; we forecast how something will turn out (usually for the worse), and therefore we either don’t take any action at all, or we stress about it first. This leads to a breakdown of our mental wellbeing. 

Instead of creating story lines for how something might pan out, live in the present moment and let what will be, be. 

How Mindful Meditation Boosts Mental Wellbeing

When we live in the present, we understand ourselves better. We also experience things that we’ve been taking for granted for far too long, such as the leaves on a tree, the smell of a flower on a summer’s morning, or the replenishing quality of rain. 

When we experience something, mindful meditation allows us to grasp the feelings felt during that moment. We see our thought patterns more clearly, and we are thus able to stop anxious, negative thoughts from taking over us. 

Naturally, we all have negative thoughts from time to time. But mindful meditation stops these thoughts from spiralling out of control. We are able to better train ourselves to notice when they’re about to get ahead of us, and we are able to nip them in the bud.

We are thus able to notice the signs of impending anxiety and stress, and are in a much better position to manage them. 

How To Be More Mindful

  • Take notice of the everyday things you need and the sensations you feel as you eat, walk, run, type, read, laugh, talk, smile and so on.
  • Pick a regular time to mindfully meditate each day.
  • Try new things. Sitting in a different chair at home can help you see the world in a different, as can walking your dog in a new park.
  • Remember that thoughts are just mental events that you can control. They don’t have to run amok and dictate your every decision and action.
  • Stop thinking about the past and the future. Think only of the present moment. 

Meditation Vs Neuro Patterning

I am asked many times what is the difference between meditation and Neuro Patterning.  Meditation is a very old system that goes back 2,000 years and exists in many cultures and it comes in many forms and has actual physical effects on the brain.  The Dali Llama has really spurred on research into meditation and it has allowed us to observe the effects on the brain.  

There are many different types of meditation coming out of the various different traditions:

  1. The Buddhist tradition
    • Zen Meditation
    • Vipassana Meditation
    • Mindful Meditation
    • Loving Kindness Meditation
  2. The Hindu tradition (Verdic and Yogis)
    • Mantra Meditation (OM Meditation)
    • Transcendental Meditation (TM)
    • Yoga Meditations
  3. The Taoist tradition
    • Emptiness Meditation
    • Breathing meditation
    • Neiguan
    • Qigong (Chi kung)

This is not a complete list of the different types but it covers at least the major traditions.

Neuro Patterning

This technique is more modern and invented by Randall Ausenhus and it takes advantage of the brain's susceptibility  to suggestions when in a specific state.  Using the voice with a specific cadence and pitch and music, the brain is put into Theta and Alpha state.  It is during this state new behaviour patterns are "installed" or rather suggested to the unconscious mind in order to get a quick behaviour change.  Meditation in most of the forms develops wisdom and insight into the mind and the root cause for behaviour and affects happiness over the long term, Neuro Patterning creates a great shift in behaviour and harnesses the power of the unconscious mind, which can handle over 1,000 things at the same time, whereas the conscious mind can handle only 5-8.

Meditation and Neuro Patterning are complementary techniques that I use as part of my daily routine, they do not replace each other, I could not do without meditation or Neuro Patterning.  My favourite recording are the Emotional Release series, I use it before I meditate and it has an amazing effect.

The Physiological Effect of Meditation

Let us now examine some of the real benefits that we gain from Meditation.  The latest research coming out of neuroscience has shown that the neural pathways in the brain are not static but constantly change as we learn new things and develop new behavioural patterns.  Let us examine some of the changes in the brain from Meditation.

Slows Loss Of Brain Mass In Aging

Meditation is kind of like a form of mental training for your brain, as the process of clearing your mind and focusing on a single concept activates and engages many different regions.
People that meditate consistently for many years are effectively exercising the brain, just like the other muscles in the body.
Studies have found that this “exercise” over a period of several decades led the practitioners to slow the loss of grey matter density, compared to people who did not meditate.

Decreases Worry And Boosts Mood

A study by researchers at Yale University found that consistent mindfulness meditation—which involves introspection and honestly evaluating yourself and your actions--decreased activity in the Default Mode Network of the brain, which is the area responsible for your mind wandering.
This area is also associated with worrying and focusing on your past and future, so by decreasing activity in this area meditation allows you to focus more on the present and achieve a greater level of overall happiness.

Thickens The Hippocampus

Meditation can also thicken the cortical folds in the hippocampus, which is the area responsible for your ability to learn and remember things. The thickening that takes place allows the brain to better perform these actions, which leads to an increase in your memory and mental retention.

Decreased Volume In The Amygdala

The amygdala is the area that controls fear and anxiety, releasing a hormone called cortisol that affects the way your body acts during times of stress. Meditation helps you to let go of these negative feelings by addressing the current situations that trigger them, which leads to less activity in the area and thus a decrease in volume and size.

Reduces Stress Hormones

With a smaller and less active amygdala, the brain is less prone to releasing the harmful hormones in response to stressful situations. One Harvard study tracked the size of the amygdala with participants practicing meditation for eight weeks, and found that as the volume of the area decreased, so did reports of feeling stressed.

Lowers Anxiety Reaction

Similarly, meditation helps to weaken the part of the brain that leads to feeling anxious. The focus on introspection and self-awareness through meditation helps you to overcome the initial inclination to feel uneasy about different areas of your life, which enables other areas of your brain to take over and trigger more confident actions and positive feelings.

Reduces Feelings Of Depression

One study from researchers at Johns Hopkins tracked the effects of meditation on patients suffering from depression, comparing it to the effectiveness of taking antidepressant medication. The results found that meditation was just as effective as medicine, likely due to the fact that
meditation helps to break the links between the rational part of the brain and the amygdala. Meditation also trains the brain to stand up to negative thoughts and fears, rather than relent and indulge in worrying about the past or future.

Improves Concentration

The Default Mode Network of the brain is also responsible for the mind wandering to different thoughts and topics, such as with daydreaming. It’s also tied into your ability to focus on a single subject, in that it can lead to you getting distracted while trying to think.
Meditation helps decrease the activity in this area of the brain, and thus trains you to concentrate on the tasks in front of you rather than letting your consciousness shift to something else.

Alters The Lateral Prefrontal Cortex

The lateral prefrontal cortex is one of the parts of the brain that regulates your emotions, and that deals with your emotional responses to different situations. Meditation engages this area of the brain and increases the thickness of its folds, which allows you to better separate your emotional responses and learned habits from the rational part of your brain so that you can better assess the correct action in emotional situations.

10 Foods That Are Most Nutritious When Eaten Raw

Trying to maintain a healthy diet doesn’t have to be hard work. Did you know that there are many raw foods that you can eat which actually provide you with more nutrition than they do when cooked? 

Next time you’re looking for a quick snack or trying to think of something that you can take with you for a lunch away from home, try out some of these raw foods. They need minimum preparation and have plenty of great benefits for your body if you eat them regularly.

1. Fermented Vegetables

Fermented vegetables are easy for the body to absorb and digest because the fermentation process pre-digests the starches in these foods. They also have many enzymes and probiotics to boost your immune system, and improve nutrient absorption.  

You can ferment many vegetables, including kale, carrots, cucumbers, celery, and cabbage. Ginger and garlic make great spices when fermenting vegetables.  

Tempeh is a fermented food, as is the Korean favorite kim chee along with raw kefir or yogurt. Note that commercial kefirs and yogurts are not advised, as they are often loaded with sugars that destroy the beneficial bacteria. 

You can use them in salads, soups, main dishes or as compliments to main dishes and they add great flavor. Some people even e njoy eating them on their own.

2. Honey

Raw honey provides two key beneficial components, bee pollen, and propolis. It is a unique blend of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and some types contain as many of these essential free radical fighting agents as vegetables and fruit. 

Free radicals are known contributors to aging, and increasing risk factors of cancer, heart disease and other chronic medical conditions. Numerous studies have shown the polyphenols found in honey to play a key role in preventing heart disease. 

Phytonutrients are compounds in plants that protect them from external harm, and they do the same for the human body, as they have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Phytonutrients are only found in raw honey as they are destroyed in any type of heavy processing of food. 

Honey can be used as a healthy substitute to sugar and is a popular choice for many people when dieting. If you include a teaspoon in your daily diet, you will be able to enjoy many benefits, as it is high in sugar and calories, so moderation is key. 

If you’re wondering how you could eat more honey in your diet, you could try using it to sweeten tea or coffee, spreading it on toast or adding a few drops to your morning berries. 

3. Coconut

Raw coconut provides a wide variety of nutritional benefits as compared to the dried or processed form. Coconut water is a natural form of sports drink because of its natural ability to hydrate and replace electrolytes, and it is also rich in potassium, sodium, and magnesium. The above is not true of dried, processed, or sweetened coconut. 

Moderation is key however, as coconut is high in calories, but it does have less sugar carbs in the same portion as apples.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are really tasty and full of antioxidants that fight free radicals to prevent chronic disease. They are high in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6 and very low in calories and sugar.

If you need something sweet for a quick pick-me-up, instead of reaching for the chocolates, try a handful of blueberries.  

For extra convenience, you can purchase frozen blueberries, which will keep for longer. Stock up when they’re more affordable and enjoy the benefits.

5. Sprouts

Some people love sprouts, while others absolutely hate them. They’re actually very healthy and if you want to improve your overall health, you should try to get used to eating them raw.  

Sprouts are vegetables that are still in the growth stage, and because of this, they have high levels of nutrients, key enzymes and numerous vitamins, all ready to be digested by the human body. 

For example, alfalfa sprouts have vitamins A, B, C, and E, Calcium, Carotene, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, and Chlorophyll. 

If you’re a vegetarian and you need more protein in your diet, sprouts are a great source of protein too.  

If you don’t like the taste of them raw, why not make a green smoothie and flavor it with other healthy ingredients.    

6. Raw Broccoli

Eating raw broccoli helps fight cancer, as chewing of this raw super plant food allows you to access a cancer-fighting compound known as myrosinase, which is easily killed off in the cooking process. Eating broccoli sprouts doubles your intake of anticancer properties.

7. Garlic

Freshly raw chopped garlic contains the enzyme alliinase that converts alliin into allicin, which is what creates the specific aroma of fresh garlic and also helps to improve your health. According to the University Of Maryland Medical Center, allicin has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

Moreover, fresh raw garlic releases a short-lived gas known as hydrogen sulfide that acts as an intracellular signaling compound that protects the heart. Cooking, processing, and drying destroy this valuable compound.

8. Nuts

While many love to eat oil-roasted nuts, the cooking process reduces valuable nutrients, such as iron and magnesium and also adds extra calories and fat. 

9. Red Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers contain about 150% of the daily-recommended value of vitamin C, but the National Institutes of Health warns that this vital nutrient breaks down when the peppers are cooked at or above 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Eating raw red peppers also helps prevent atherosclerosis that leads to heart disease.

10. Onions

A Cornell University study found that raw onions contain sulphur compounds, and cancer-fighting antioxidants that are only present in their juice. These nutrients help protect against lung and prostate cancer.