Brain Fact Friday on “Improving Mental Clarity by Understanding our Brain States, Brain Fog, and How It’s Created”
Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast, for Brain Fact Friday and episode #147 that has taken me back to Dr. Jon Lieff from episode #143[i] and his book The Secret Language of Cells: What Biological Conversation Tells Us About the Brain-Body Connection, the Future of Medicine and Life Itself.[ii]
I'm Andrea Samadi, author and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, sports, and the workplace with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately, for improved results.
In Today’s Brain Fact Friday You Will Learn:
✔︎ How Brain Fog is Created
✔︎ How the Brain and Immune System Work Together
✔︎ How Cells Communicate with Each other
✔︎ How to Strengthen Our Brain-Mind-Body Connection by Understanding Our Brain State
On our last Brain Fact Friday, episode #141, I talk about how meeting Dr. Lieff opened my eyes to the importance of keeping the cells in our body healthy for our future health, productivity, and results and that I had never thought about my health through this lens. His book explores the cellular conversation as a new way of understanding that our cells have constant, intelligent chatter between them, showing there is no separation of brain-body, mind-body or brain-immune and It got me thinking about neurogenesis, (how we create new cells in the brain) reminding me to take my Omega 3-DHA to increase Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, (which is the best way to produce new brain cells) and the ties to keeping our brain cells healthy for learning, memory and retention. But what else is there? What are some other ways that I can look at health, wellness and productivity at the cellular level?
Which Leads us to This Week’s Brain Fact Friday
Have you ever wondered why we get brain fog, or have a harder time thinking when we are stressed? Dr. Jon Lieff shared with me why this happens, and I think it’s important that everyone understands this function of our brain and body.
Did you know that the brain and immune system work together?
T-cells (an essential part of the immune system, a type of leukocyte or white blood cell) sends a message to the neurons (the cells in the brain and nervous system) to stop making memory cells (when you are stressed) and you get brain fog.
Dr. Lieff reminded us in our interview that stress is “at the interface of brain function and inflammation” and that “T cells are essential for dealing with stress…Both brain and immune cells pick up perceptions of stress. Brief stress related to learning or the unexpected can be helpful in stimulating positive brain activity. However, chronic stress (where the body has no way to break from a stressor) can trigger damaging inflammation.”[iii]
We have all heard that stress causes inflammation in the body, that “leads to a number of chronic health conditions”[iv] like cancer and viral infections and Dr. Lieff comes to the conclusion that “all processes in the human body, in all animals and plants, and in microbe communities as well, are based on conversations and group decision making among cells.”[v]
One of the many fascinating parts of my interview with Dr. Lieff, that I have had many messages about, was where he explained that no one knew there were immune cells near the brain. Cerebral fluid (a colorless fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) he explained “is also for communication and that t-cells get into this fluid and send messages to neurons.”[vi]
When there is an infection in our body, the immune cells send “a sick feeling” to our body signaling us to pay attention to what we are feeling and take a rest or break so that healing can take place. Have you ever felt that feeling? You are working and something feels off in your body? Stefanie Faye mentioned the concept of “interoception” (being able to perceive the sensations from inside the body in episode #39[vii] and Dr. Daniel Stickler mentioned it in on episode #96[viii] with an athlete’s ability to read their body and not overtrain.
Dr. Lieff shared that when everything is well within the body, “T cells signal to the brain that conditions are safe for normal activity” (page 35) but the minute there is an infection, or trauma, “the T cells change their messages to the brain to signal that the body is sick and the brain must slow down” until the t cells recognize that it is ok to return back to normal. We should be able to feel this shift in the body.
This is a recent discovery that can serve us well to keep us operating at our highest levels possible. We must understand that our cells are smart, and that they communicate with each other, but this is just the beginning.
What are some simple steps we can take to strengthen our brain? We will dive deeper into this next week with our interview with Dr. James Hardt[ix], who has worked with Tony Robbins, Michael Jackson, leaders of Microsoft, IBM and other high-powered executives to elevate states of intelligence and consciousness, but until then, here are my tips for keeping a healthy brain-body-immune system.
HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR BRAIN-BODY-IMMUNE SYSTEM? UNDERSTAND YOUR PATTERNS AND BRAIN STATE:
If our brain and immune system are closely tied, it makes sense to me that we should understand something about how our brains work. Do you know the brain state you are in, how you operate, and how to switch between different brain states to improve your productivity?
We have talked about the importance of switching between different networks in the brain to improve levels of creativity, with episode #48[x] on Brain Network Theory (bringing us to heightened perception with GAMMA brain waves, and Stefanie Faye just released an article that affirms “the more we start to notice the rhythms we have in our brain states, moods, relationships, and day to day functioning, the better we get at cultivating the right conditions ahead of time, in a preventative, systems-thinking and growth-oriented way.”[xi] Through the brain mapping she does, Faye believes that people who experience brain fog are operating with THETA BRAIN WAVES (4-8 HZ) which is slower than needed for higher levels of productivity experienced at the ALPHA (9-13 level).
Dr. James Hardt, who will take us deeper into the power of changing our brain states to change our life, next week, reminds us that “the average person’s brain state shows low ALPHA (where creativity exists) and high BETA (stress)” whether it’s time urgency, financial stress, or health related, this type of stress we know leads to dis-ease in the body. I do look forward to sharing more on this topic next week, and diving deeper, as I think we have only just started to scratch the surface of how to reach these higher levels of thinking with our last interview with expert in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Dr. Howard Rankin on “How Not to Think[xii]” and if we were to brain map ourselves, it would be very clear, that most of us do not think—or we think far less than we think we think.
That’s it for this week’s Brain Fact Friday on understanding how the brain-body, mind-body and brain-immune system work together and I hope that you have taken away something useful to help you to understand how we get brain fog, vs mental clarity, with some thoughts on moving to new brain wave levels for improved results. The key to this week’s brain fact is that switching brain states takes focused effort. We must first of all be aware of where we are, (Dr. Hardt thinks most of us are at the BETA STATE) before we can move to a new state. The only way I know of to move to the ALPHA STATE is through a state of wakeful relaxation that can be cultivated with a mindfulness/meditation practice, or from deep thinking that takes us into our non-conscious mind that World Renowned Neuroscientist Dr. Carolyn Leaf explains in our bonus interview on “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess.[xiii] From the research I am doing on Dr. Hardt, I can see there are quicker and easier ways to reach these higher levels and I look forward to sharing them with you.
If you would like to see Stefanie Faye’s recent article on “3 Ways to Get Rid of Brain Fog and Increase Mental Clarity” I will link her article in the show notes.
Will see you next week with Dr. James Hardt, and I do look forward to sharing with you the new workshops we are creating for schools and workplace, as we begin to implement these ideas into our classrooms and workplaces. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, you can see what we have been doing on our website at www.achieveit360.com .
[i] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #143 with Dr. Jon Lieff on “The Secret Language of Cells” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/jon-lieff-md-on-the-secret-language-of-cells-what-biological-conversations-tell-us-about-the-brain-body-connection/
[ii] The Secret Language of Cells: What Biological Conversation Tells Us About the Brain-Body Connection by Jon Lieff, MD. September 22, 2020 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084HKZ4HK/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
[iii] IBID page 91
[iv] Here’s How Chronic Stress and Inflammation Are Linked by Denise Shipani October 16, 2018 https://www.everydayhealth.com/wellness/united-states-of-stress/link-between-stress-inflammation/
[v] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #143 with Dr. Jon Lieff on “The Secret Language of Cells” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/jon-lieff-md-on-the-secret-language-of-cells-what-biological-conversations-tell-us-about-the-brain-body-connection/ Page 2
[vi] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #143 with Dr. Jon Lieff on “The Secret Language of Cells” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/jon-lieff-md-on-the-secret-language-of-cells-what-biological-conversations-tell-us-about-the-brain-body-connection/
[vii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #39 with Stefanie Faye on “Using Neuroscience to Improve our Mindset, Self-Regulation and Self-Awareness” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/neuroscience-researcher-stefanie-faye-on-using-neuroscience-to-improve-our-mindset-self-regulation-and-self-awareness/
[viii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #96 with Dr. Daniel Stickler on “Expanding Awareness for Limitless Peak Performance, Health, Longevity and Intelligence” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/dr-daniel-stickler-on-expanding-awareness-for-limitless-peak-performance-health-longevity-and-intelligence/
[x] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #48 on “Brain Network Theory: Using Neuroscience to Stay Productive During Times of Change and Chaos” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-network-theory-using-neuroscience-to-stay-productive-during-times-of-change-and-chaos/
[xi] Stefanie Faye “3 Ways to Get Rid of Brain Fog: And Increase Mental Clarity” Published July 14, 2021 https://stefaniefaye.com/articles/3-ways-to-get-rid-of-brain-fog-and-increase-mental-clarity/
[xii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #96 on “How Not to Think” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/expert-in-psychology-cognitive-neuroscience-and-neurotechnology-howard-rankin-phd-on-how-not-to-think/
[xiii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast BONUS EPISODE with World Renowned Neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf on “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: 5 Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety and Toxic Thinking” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/worldrenownedneuroscientistdr-caroline-leaf-oncleaningup-your-mentalmess5-simplescientifically-proven-stepsto-reduceanxiety-and-toxic-thinking/