How Healthy is Your Brain?

About 50 million people worldwide are suffering from dementia in 2021, but the total number of people with dementia is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and a staggering 152 million in 2050

For Kate Kunkel, the tragedy of this disease struck three times. Both grandmothers and her mother passed away with dementia, inspiring Kate to embark on a mission to understand why this ruthless disease was haunting her family.  During this process, Kate made some startling discoveries and has devoted her life to sharing them with as many people as possible, in the hopes that she can spare others this terrible fate.

Kate’s book, Don’t Let the Memories Fade, is for anyone looking for ways to improve their health and stave off the dreaded diagnosis of dementia. No matter your age, the information and suggestions in this book will help you live a healthier life and feel better!

I particularly like two things about this book:

One, it’s written for the general reader in clear, simple language and from the perspective of someone who has lived through the heartbreak of assisting a family member with Alzheimer’s.

Second, the suggestions it offers—on diet, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, and creativity apply to anyone who wants to live healthy—especially at and after midlife.

Following the suggestions offered in this book will reduce your chances of developing not only dementia but the other diseases of older age—heart problems, cancer, arthritis–any condition where inflammation is a factor.

Research on the microbiome points to the detrimental effects of the typical American diet, stress, and environmental factors. But simple lifestyle changes can reduce the inflammation in our bodies and give us new hope.

We affect the level of health we experience. It isn’t always easy to change our ways, but the benefits are enormous. Even if you have dementia or other inflammatory diseases in your genetic line, you can change your future and beat the odds! People are doing it every day. This book is a great place to start investigating how to live healthier and preserve your memories.

We know now that cognitive growth can occur at any age. Neurogenesis is the study of how new nerve cells develop. We can learn new tasks and make new memories well into our nineties if we work on exercising our brains! Learn something new. Learn something new that’s hard and you’ll notice how much more alert you feel!

Each chapter has a “checkup” so readers can assess themselves on the topic discussed. Included are practical steps to improve health. Kunkel ends the book with an 8-week program for improving brain health. It includes suggestions for diet and nutrition, exercise, and lots of yummy recipes. A list of resources is included for those who want to know more.  Check it out! You have nothing to lose but your old habits!

Kate consults with people to improve their brain health. You can see her podcast at Brain Health Matters.

 

 

 

 

Reconciliation: Shake Hands With Yourself

Shaking hands with ourselves can calm our emotions and reduce stress, but how do we do that?

Last week I talked about Themis, the ancient goddess of reconciliation. When she was a member of the Greek pantheon, there were two words for soul.

Psyche, the soul of the breath, has come down to us in the concept of spirit. Thymos is the second soul, of the body, the blood, the emotions.

In the west, we have lost the concept of the body having soul. When we think of intelligence, we focus on the upper realms of mind. But for the Greeks, wisdom also emanated from the emotions or instincts. It is called the “blood-soul,” the mind of the body and is associated with the heart. We experience how our body speaks to us differently than the voice of transcendence from above.

The idea of two souls was known in Egypt, the individual ba and the ka or universal soul. The Chinese have the concept of yin and yang. Western antiquity had the Eros and Logos.  These traditions honored the balance of complementary energies, male and female, electric and magnetic.

In the west, though, body and spirit became antagonists. (The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.) As reason dominated emotion, we lost the intelligence of the body. We disregarded messages from our bodies as “unscientific,” “illogical,” and the purview of fringe thinkers. Many suffer a mind/body split which contributes to the depression, anxiety, and stress illnesses so prevalent today.

Current physiological research is bridging the gap. Neurocardiology reveals that the heart is a vital organ of sensation. It codes and processes information within the autonomic nervous system. And it’s not alone.

There are many “little brains” in the body, clusters of neurons that regulate the functioning of the liver, stomach, kidneys, and intestines. Many correspond to the ancient eastern knowledge of the chakras, the energy centers of the light body.

When we express emotions, the heart has clear, rhythmic patterns. The experience of anger, frustration, and anxiety produces heart rhythms that are erratic and disordered. With emotions like appreciation, joy, love, compassion, the heart expresses an orderly or coherent pattern.

We experience subjective coherence when we are in positive emotional states. We feel “together,” “in the flow,” “integrated.” This could be the working of Themis energy.

From this research, I learned that if we can appreciate the “negative” emotions and listen to their messages, the act of appreciation helps heal the mind/body split and allows the heart to serve its natural function of reconciliation.

In my life, I noticed that even though I accept the information my body offers, I often feel annoyed. Here we go again, is the thought that streaks through my mind.

With appreciation, I can release my judgment of emotions that are inconvenient or unpleasant and bring myself into a state of greater coherence, which feels a lot better.

So, the next time, you’re upset, angry, or frightened:

  • Sit down in a quiet place
  • Calm your mind
  • Focus on your physical heart
  • Gently breathe in and out as if the air is moving through your chest
  • Imagine something you appreciate having—a person, an object, a state of being
  • For a few minutes, breathe through your heart, staying focused on what you appreciate

This simple exercise will calm you, help you come out of judgment, and bring your disparate parts into resonance. From that place, you can decide what action, if any, is appropriate.

It’s simple.  Shake hands with yourself in your heart.

Accessing our heart’s natural intelligence can create an energetic field of unconditional love and harmonious interactions – helping humanity to realize we are one Earth, one yard, one people.

Doc Childre, HeartMath Founder