The brain we develop reflects the life we lead.
– the Dalai Lama.
Makes sense, right?
Strangely, this is a contentious opinion in the world of neuroscience.
And it’s part of why Dr. David Perlmutter not only left the practice of mainstream neurology 10 years into his residency and opened his own practice, but recently wrote a book with his son about the effects of our lifestyles on our neural structures.
Brain Wash is a tome of wisdom, although it is also a wealth of information. (They are not to be used interchangeably.)
You see, Perlmutter has found that the fundamental lifestyle factors have a profound and documented influence on the function of the brain.
Not only in terms of how it manifests your moods and choices, but on the likelihood of its developing neurodegenerative diseases.
“The same parameters that influence cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, are operative as it relates to the degeneration of the brain,” Perlmutter insists.
And we can even take it a step further. The relationship that we have with microbes, for example, has evolved all the way from “microbes are bad, wash your hands before you deliver that baby,” to “our bodies have a symbiotic relationship with microbes, specifically the ones in our gut.”
The more scientists have validated the correlation of diversity in the microbial populations of the gut…
The more they’ve explored the connection of brain cognition to gut microbes.
So what does this tell us? What have we learned after years of intensive study, with guys like Perlmutter on the case? Well… it turns out to be pretty elementary.
The Fundamentals of a Healthy Brain
Healthy diet, regular exercise, restful sleep, mindful engagement, and meditation.
We tend to think of those factors as beneficial for a fit body and positive mental health.
Operationally, they also increase the brain’s resistance to degenerative diseases, and maybe more importantly…
They foster a brain with a powerful prefrontal cortex.
If you’re not familiar with what the prefrontal cortex does… Know this – it’s responsible for negation of impulses, empathy, and making informed decisions about the future.
Focusing on those factors literally rewires the brain to rely more on the prefrontal cortex.
Because of inflammation.
The Western diet and lifestyle amplifies the inflammation in our bodies, which “underlies the genesis of chronic degenerative conditions,” according to Perlmutter.
When we neglect those factors, the inflammatory mediators in the body connect less with the prefrontal cortex and thus weaken it, thereby training other, less sophisticated areas of the brain to handle our impulse control and our decision making.
As the Western way of life becomes more influential globally, it creates a world-wide disconnection from empathy.
So the world’s most advanced neurologists have this to say:
The answer to a healthy brain doesn’t come from pills and surgery.
It comes from a lifetime of healthy and positive lifestyle choices.
And that includes what we don’t allow into our lives – for example, high cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
Chronic stress, no restorative sleep, and depriving ourselves from nature – they all change the diversity of our microbes, increase intestinal permeability, and create a feedback loop whereby increased levels of inflammation lead to increased problems.
Which cause increased cortisol.
Are you seeing the pattern?
Eating a certain way and not exercising and consuming sugars that are feeding the bad bacteria is diminishing our ability to strengthen and connect the part of the brain that would be encouraging us to make better decisions.
The Need for a BrainWash
And it’s an epidemic. 87% of Americans’ time is spent inside, disconnected from nature. And less than 50% would say that they have meaningful in-person relationships (necessary because of the eye-contact, olfactory connection, and microbe-sharing that factors into the way humans bond socially.)
And that’s why what the book is about – bringing the adult back into the room.
Because we all know what we’re supposed to do.
We’re just brainwashed by marketing and science-for-sale to believe that what we’re supposed to do is consume and distract, which appeals to the lower-reasoning centers of your brain.
Brain Wash builds a bridge from that simple information to action.
It tells you how to BEHAVE to so that the neurons in your brain that fire together also wire together…
How to amplify the pathways in your brain that provide you with a happier, healthier life through simple behavioral modifications…
And what a profound impact that can have.
Fire that one neuron that’ll get your brain curious, and tell all the other neurons about it.