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Like whiskers on a cat, your hair strands are far more alive than you might realize, and an integral part of who you are. Because of this, we believe hair deserves some pretty special treatment, and a true chance to reveal it's natural radiance. Do shampoo bars work as well as liquid shampoo? Is there a special method I should follow when using Shampoo Bars? You must be able to read and decipher labels to really know. Click here for why popular silicone-based oils like "Morrocan Oil" are damaging for your hair.

Use excessive heat daily to style and manipulate hair. What's happening to my hair during the "Purge Period"? Is it possible to shorten the purge period? Do shampoo bars dry out your hair? How can I know if my current hair products have hair-damaging silicones? How often should I wash my hair when using shampoo bars? But what if I have an oily scalp or sweat a lot at the gym?

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No worries! Here are two methods you can try. The water itself will rinse away the smelly sweat along with a bit of the excess oil. What is happening, and what else can I do?

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  8. What's going on? Why does it look great curly, but not straight? What should I do to have the best shampoo bar experience? This leads to mineral build-up in the hair, which can feel gunky and cause hair to look lifeless and dull. Another alternative is to do monthly or bi-monthly "chelating" washes. We highly recommend you let your natural hair texture shine by using heat tools as little as possible.

    The less you use them, the faster your hair will heal, and the less you will find you need them. Vinegar also restores the natural pH balance of your scalp, preventing it from becoming dried out and itchy.

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    The appropriate ACV to water ratio depends on your hair type and length - dry hair prefers less ACV, oily hair enjoys more, long hair tends to need a bit more ACV to get the job done, while short hair tends to need less. Please remember these are just guidelines, and we encourage you to tune into your own individual needs to find a recipe that works best for you. We recommend using our Meditation Tea Treatment for a holistic approach to mind, body and hair health. Once you are successfully through the purge, you will see how your own self-regulating sebum via Dry Brushing along with nourishing organic oils like our Ritual Oil will be all you need to maintain naturally radiant hair.

    Share Tweet Pin. Leave a comment Name Email. Live Light RSS. Throughout this journey of healing from trauma and abuse, make sure that you are being compassionate towards yourself. A great deal of trauma survivors suffer from toxic shame and self-blame. There is no time limit to learning and healing, there is only the power of transforming our adversity into victory, one small step at a time. I highly recommend them both and they are most likely available through the library!

    Thank you for your kind words! Your insight is much appreciated, and you are spot-on in regards to some tips not necessarily being helpful for everyone. The healing process looks different to each person, and we are so glad that you have offered some accessible resources to our blog community that were beneficial to you in your own healing. So helpful. I am in EMDR now for my childhood, and my ex- abusive marriage..

    I find I get as many physical, as emotional symptoms which surprised me, but the help is invaluable! Please keep posting all this wonderful information for people in need. It is never too late to seek help, and get those negative tapes out of your head! Thank you again…. Central so that we may assist you confidentially. This was extremely helpful.

    Thank you for putting this out there for all of us who need it. I will find strength with what I just read. Thank you! I feel like my tongue has been removed. Hi Deb, Thank you for your comment—we totally get it, and please know you are not alone. Remember, we are here for you whenever you are ready! I got the ladder and a flashlight and crawled into the attic where I found a kitten just a few hours old, abandoned by her mother, with her eyes still sticky shut, crying weakly.

    When I brought the kitten down, the children were so excited. I called the local vet, who told me the baby was not likely to live and I should just drown her in a bucket of water. With two young children looking up at me with excited faces, I told the vet that he needed to give me another plan or I was going to be in big trouble. Reluctantly, he told me how to stimulate her to go to the bathroom with a warm, wet cotton swab that was a new one for me , gave me the name of a baby kitten formula I could get at the pet store, and told me to keep her warm under a lamp--but there was no hope. When Robbin got home, all of her maternal instincts went into overdrive.

    She cared for the kitten, dreamed about her, and got up frequently at night to check on her. Ipo, the kitten, thrived, and within three weeks Robbin was pregnant! Her maternal instincts changed the receptivity of her body. Larry and I both worked together at my father's grocery store chain when we were teenagers.

    I have seen him again periodically through the years at various business and family functions. On the last occasion, my father's eightieth-birthday celebration, Larry looked twenty years older than his age of fifty-four. His hair was stark white, his skin was wrinkled, and had an ashen tone. His daughter had died of cancer ten years earlier and his wife had died of the same cancer the year before. The mountain of stress he had been under took a noticeably negative toll on his body. The fund-raising director, Alicia Steele, picked me up at the hotel for an on-air appearance.

    This time Alicia looked different. She looked younger and more vibrant. When I asked her what she was doing, she said that since she had met me she was eating right, taking fish oil, drinking less alcohol, and was better at handling the stresses in her life. She had taken the extended version of my brain system questionnaire, found on our website, and discovered that her prefrontal cortex was likely low in activity, so she started taking the supplement SAMe with great effect. In fact, she told me that she had also dropped fifteen pounds. And she was getting her husband to exercise.

    That week at her station there had been a death in the family of her producer, which had really upset the schedule; usually, she told me, an event like that would have made her cry; now, she knew she could adapt to the changes and get rid of any automatic negative thoughts ANTs that tried to steal her happiness. As she changed her brain, her body, her life, and even her family were much improved. The story of our kitten highlights that when a woman acts maternal, chemical changes in the brain send signals to the body making it more likely for her to conceive.

    Larry's story illustrates that when someone is under a mountain of stress, it will likely have a very negative impact on his body. And Alicia's story teaches us that when you combat stress and get on a brain-healthy program specific to your own brain, you will look and feel younger. Think about this concept for a moment.

    You can change your brain and subsequently change your body. You can harness the power of your brain to create the body you want! One prescription does not fit everyone. This is why most weight-loss programs don't work. All of us need individualized or personalized prescriptions based on our own brain types and needs. Since Alicia likely had low activity in her prefrontal cortex, in the front part of her brain, she needed more stimulating interventions, such as the supplement SAMe. Using SAMe with people who have high prefrontal cortex activity usually makes them more anxious.

    Knowing how your own specific brain works is critical to getting the help that will work for you. Of course, as we will see, there are interventions that apply to all of us, such as a healthy diet and adequate sleep, but to get the most out of this book, note the interventions that apply to your individual type. A mounting body of scientific evidence supports the concept that your mind has a very powerful influence on your appearance, your mood, your stress levels, and your overall health.

    In fact, a whole new branch of alternative medicine has emerged that focuses on the interactions of the mind and body. The answer, after looking at more than 55, brain scans over the past twenty years, is no. The mind and the brain are completely dependent upon each other. Just think about Alzheimer's disease, which is clearly a brain illness.

    Do people with Alzheimer's disease lose their minds? Yes, they do as the disease progresses. When you lose brain tissue see Image I. Or let's consider brain trauma. Becca's scan above showed damage to her prefrontal cortex. Damage the brain, and you damage the mind and most everything else in your life, including your body. When I improved Becca's brain, her mind and body were so much better. Like most people, you probably know what you have to do in order to achieve your goals, but you simply don't do it.

    Why not? Because you aren't taking care of your brain. If you want to lose the love handles, you need to improve the function of your frontal lobes. If you want to say goodbye to all those headaches, you have to calm your brain. And if you want to turn back the clock on your skin's appearance, you have to start by rejuvenating your brain. In this book, I will give you fifteen solutions to help you boost your brain so you can get and keep the body you have always wanted. It all begins by learning to love your brain and understanding how it affects your body.

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    These easy-to-follow solutions also focus on using your brain to improve your willpower and eliminate the cravings that sabotage your efforts for a better body. You will see that weight-management issues, although rampant, are definitely not a single or simple problem. Based on our research, it is at least six different problems, and knowing your type of issue is the first key to being at the weight you want.

    You will also find ways to improve your skin and your heart by boosting your brain. Plus, you will learn how to increase your focus and energy, calm your stress, and improve your memory to keep your body in tip-top shape. You will learn how to feed your brain so you will look and feel younger, and you'll discover how adequate sleep can help prevent you from packing on pounds as well as take years off your appearance.

    Among the many prescriptions within these pages, you will see how balancing your hormones can give you a more youthful brain and body. One of the most effective solutions for improving every aspect of your body is learning to use new thinking skills to help you reach your weight, health, beauty, and fitness goals. You may be surprised and delighted to find out that sex is a great brain booster that's good medicine for your body, too. Plus, you will learn how your mental health is a major key to having your best body possible.

    Perhaps the most astounding thing you will find here is that when you change your brain and your body, you can also change other people's bodies too. Within the pages of the book I will tell you which tailored natural supplements help to ameliorate the problems we discuss, along with specific medications that may apply. Here, in Part One, you will be introduced to the ten basic principles to change your brain and body. In Part Two, you will discover how to use your brain to help you achieve something millions of us struggle with on a daily basis--lasting weight loss.

    Part Three focuses on the many ways your brain can help you beautify your body and improve your overall health and well-being. In Part Four, among the many brain-body strategies you will find are antiaging secrets that will help keep your brain and body young. With the solutions in this book, you can learn to harness the power of your brain to get and keep the body you always wanted. I think you deserve to have a brain and body you love. Don't you? Loving your brain is the first step toward getting the body you want.

    Looking back, my earliest scan, taken when I was thirty-seven, showed a toxic, bumpy appearance that was definitely not consistent with great brain function. Initially, I didn't understand why. All my life, I have been someone who rarely drank alcohol, never smoked, and never used an illegal drug.

    So why did my brain look so bad? Before I understood about brain health, I had many bad brain habits. I practically lived on fast food and diet sodas, worked like a nut, rarely got more than four or five hours of sleep at night, and didn't exercise much. My weight was fifteen pounds above where I wanted it, and I struggled with arthritis and had trouble getting off the floor when I played with my children. At thirty-seven, I just thought I was getting older. My most recent brain scan at age fifty-two looks healthier and much younger than my first scan, even though brains typically become less active with age.

    Seeing other people's scans, I developed "brain envy" and wanted mine to be better. As I learned about brain health, I put into practice what I'm teaching you and what I've been preaching to my patients for years. In doing so, I got more than just a better-looking brain. I also feel more energetic, look healthier, have lost weight, and have better body tone, no arthritis, and smoother-looking skin. In this chapter, you will find ten basic principles that explain why it is essential to love and nurture your brain in order to have your best body possible. These are the same principles that underlie our work at the Amen Clinics, where we have helped thousands of people learn to love their brains in order to improve their bodies.

    Image 1. A's brain at thirty-seven Bumpy, toxic appearance Image 1. When your brain works right, your body looks and feels better. When your brain is troubled, you have trouble with how you look and feel.

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    The brain is the most complex organ in the universe. Respect it. Your brain is very soft and housed in a really hard skull. Protect it. The brain has only so much reserve. The more reserve you have, the healthier you are. The less reserve, the more vulnerable you are. Specific parts of your brain are involved in certain behaviors.

    Trouble in specific parts of your brain tends to cause certain behavior problems. Understanding your brain can help you optimize it. Many things hurt the brain and make it harder for you to get the body you've always wanted. Many things help the brain and make it easier to get and keep a body you love.

    Brain imaging gives great insight into healing the brain so you can have a better body. One prescription does not work for everyone--we are all unique, and you need to understand how your own personal brain functions. Yes, you can change your brain and body! Your brain controls everything you do, feel, and think. When you look in the mirror, you can thank your brain for what you see. Ultimately, it is your brain that determines whether your belly bulges over your belt buckle or your waistline is trim and toned. Your brain plays the central role in whether your skin looks fresh and dewy or is etched with wrinkles.

    Whether you wake up feeling energetic or groggy depends on your brain.

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    When you head to the kitchen to make breakfast, it is your brain that determines whether you go for the leftover pizza or the low-fat yogurt and fruit. Your brain controls whether you hit the gym or sit at the computer to check your Facebook page.

    If you feel the need to light up a cigarette or drink a couple cups of java, that's also your brain's doing. ACTION STEPRemember that your brain is involved in everything you do, every decision you make, every bite of food you take, every cigarette you smoke, every worrisome thought you have, every workout you skip, every alcoholic beverage you drink, and more. The moment-by-moment functioning of your brain is responsible for the way you think, feel, eat, exercise, and even for the way you make love.

    The impact of the brain on your body goes even deeper than that. It is at the core of your very health and well-being. Whether you live a long healthy life, suffer from a debilitating condition, or have your days cut short by a terrible disease, your brain is at the center of it all. In fact, researchers from the University of Cambridge, England, found that when people made bad decisions with their brains, they took fourteen years off their life spans. People who drank heavily, smoked, didn't exercise, and had poor diets at the age of sixty had the same risk of dying as someone with a healthy lifestyle who was seventy-four.

    The decisions your brain makes can steal or add many years to your life! A healthy brain makes it so much easier for you to have your best body possible. When your brain is working at optimal levels, you are more likely to stick to a diet, follow an exercise routine, and adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors.

    That adds up to a slimmer, trimmer body, a more youthful appearance, brighter skin, better immunity, fewer headaches, less back pain, and improved health. On the other hand, a troubled brain often leads to trouble with your body. That's right, extra pounds, wrinkles, chronic pain, and health conditions can be linked to the way your brain functions. Making poor food choices, blowing off the gym, and engaging in unhealthy behaviors are more common when your brain isn't working at its best.

    Jack, a fifty-two-year-old divorced engineer, is five feet ten inches tall and weighs close to pounds. He tries to diet, but just can't stick to it. Every morning, Jack wakes up with the intention of eating healthfully that day, but he never gets around to planning his day's meals or stocking the refrigerator. When lunchtime rolls around, he's starving and stops at the first fast-food restaurant he can find, where he orders a cheeseburger and fries. After coming home from work, he gazes into an empty refrigerator and then calls the local pizza delivery place for dinner.

    With three young children, a demanding job, and a strained marriage, Megan appears older than her forty-three years. She'd love to recapture a more youthful look, but hasn't been able to do it with the creams and lotions from the cosmetics counter. She rarely gets more than a few hours of sleep at night and whenever she's depressed, stressed, mad, or sad, she seeks refuge in a cigarette and a glass of wine--or two or three or four glasses of wine, or maybe even the whole bottle. Smoking and drinking calms down her nerves and makes her feel better--temporarily.

    Sarah is twenty-eight years old and would love to have a better body. Although she isn't technically overweight, she wants to tone and tighten the pounds she carries on her five-foot-six-inch frame. She knows that exercise could help her achieve her goals, but she just can't seem to muster up enough energy or motivation to hit the gym. Sarah also struggles with feelings of anxiety and nervousness and is constantly thinking of what can go wrong in her life.

    For years, Jack, Megan, and Sarah have been chalking up their problems to a simple lack of willpower or laziness, but that isn't necessarily the case. Their inability to get the body they want lies within their brains. Jack's lack of planning and poor follow- through are common signs of low activity in an area of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex PFC. This is the part of the brain that is involved with planning, goal setting, forethought, impulse control, and follow-through.


    When this area isn't functioning at the proper level, it makes it very hard to be successful. Smoking or drinking to calm emotions, which is keeping Megan from getting the youthful look she wants, may signal excessive activity in the deep limbic system of the brain. This part of the brain is involved in setting your emotional tone. When it is less active, there is generally a positive, hopeful state of mind. When it is heated up or overactive, negativity and feelings of depression or sadness can take over, making you look for solace in nicotine, alcohol, or drugs. Sarah's energy is drained by anxiety and worry, which may indicate a problem in an area of the brain called the basal ganglia.

    Located toward the center of the brain, the basal ganglia are involved with integrating feelings, thoughts, and motivation. When there is high activity in this area, it can cause problems with anxiety and may drain people of their energy and get-up-and-go. What Jack, Megan, and Sarah show us is that your brain heavily influences your behavior and your body.

    Your brain can either help you have a better body or make it more difficult for you to have a body you love. The brain is the most complicated, amazing, special organ in the universe. Your brain weighs only about three pounds, but it is more powerful than even the most sophisticated supercomputer. Even though it represents only about 2 percent of your body's weight, your brain uses about 25 percent of the calories you consume, 25 percent of the total blood flow in your body, and 20 percent of the oxygen you breathe. The calories, blood flow, and oxygen feed the cells inside your brain.

    It is estimated that the brain contains more than one hundred billion nerve cells, which is about the number of stars in the Milky Way. Each nerve cell is connected to other nerve cells by thousands of individual connections between cells. In fact, it is estimated that there are more connections in your brain than there are stars in the universe! If you take a single piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand, it contains a hundred thousand nerve cells and a billion connections--all "talking" to one another. Information in your brain travels at speeds of up to miles per hour, faster than the race cars in the Indy , unless of course you are drunk--then things really slow down.

    When we do full-body scans, the brain is lit up like a little heater while the rest of the body appears ghostlike. Your brain is the organ of your personality, character, and intelligence and is heavily involved in making you who you are. If you are like most people, you probably think your brain is firm and rubbery.

    In reality, your brain is very soft. Composed of about 80 percent water, its consistency can be compared to soft butter, custard, or tofu--somewhere between raw egg whites and Jell- O. To protect your soft brain, it is housed in a really hard skull filled with fluid. Inside your skull are a number of bony edges and ridges. Some of these ridges are as sharp as knives and in the event of a head injury or trauma can damage your soft brain. Your brain was not meant for your head to be hitting soccer balls, playing tackle football, boxing, or participating in Ultimate Fighting Championships.

    Brain trauma is much more common than you think. Each year, two million new brain injuries are reported, and millions more go unreported. Brain injuries not only damage your brain, they can ruin your body. It doesn't have to be a "serious" injury to have serious consequences for your body and your health. After viewing more than 55, brain scans, it has become very clear to me that what many people think of as mild trauma can have a significantly negative effect on people's brains and can significantly change their lives and their ability to look and feel their best.

    Many times, these injuries go unnoticed, in part because mental health professionals never look at brain function. Don't hit soccer balls with your head or ride a bicycle, ski, or snowboard without a helmet that fits. Studies show that people who have suffered brain injuries, even mild ones, often experience emotional, behavioral, or cognitive problems.

    When you have trouble thinking or reasoning, you can't make the best decisions for your body. Suffering a brain injury is also associated with a higher incidence of alcoholism and drug abuse--both of which lead to premature aging, possible weight problems, potentially devastating health conditions, and homelessness. Protect your brain. Think about your family, friends, and coworkers. When there's a crisis, do some of them completely fall apart--racing for the candy bowl, reaching for a pack of cigarettes, or searching for solace in drugs and alcohol--while others manage to soldier on with their lives in a healthy way?

    Have you ever wondered why that is? I have. In my work, I have noticed that stressful events, such as the loss of a loved one, layoffs at work, or divorce can lead to depression, changes in weight, a lack of motivation to exercise, and bad daily habits in some people but not in others. After looking at brain scans for nearly twenty years, I have come to believe that these differences have to do with a concept I call brain reserve. Brain reserve is the cushion of healthy brain function we have to deal with stressful events or injuries. The more reserve you have, the better you can cope with the unexpected.

    The less you have, the harder it is for you to handle tough times and injuries, and the more likely you are to gobble up a bag of Oreo cookies or swig alcohol as a coping mechanism. Mary and Katie are identical twins. They share the same genes, the same parents, and the same upbringing.

    Yet their lives--and looks--are very different. Mary, who is very fit, is a successful journalist in a long-term happy marriage with three great children. Katie, who is overweight, barely finished high school, suffered with depression and a bad temper, and went from job to job and relationship to relationship. Their lives and looks are nothing alike. When I scanned them, Mary had a very healthy brain Image 1. At first, when I talked with the twins together, Katie didn't remember a head injury. Then Mary spoke up, saying, "Don't you remember the time when we were ten years old and you fell off the top bunk bed onto your head?

    You got knocked out and we had to rush you to the hospital. From that point on, though, many things can boost or reduce the level of reserve. For example, if your mother smoked marijuana and drank a lot of Jack Daniel's while she was pregnant with you, it is likely that she lowered your level of brain reserve. If you fell off the roof as a teenager, were the victim of domestic violence as a child, or abused drugs and alcohol in high school, you probably decreased your own reserve.

    Basically, any behavior that harms the brain erodes your brain's reserve. On the other hand, if your mother ate a healthy diet, took a daily multivitamin, and meditated every day, she probably pumped up your reserve. Your reserve likely got a boost if you were raised in a loving home, were exposed to a wide variety of learning as a child, and steered clear of drugs and alcohol. Here's a very simple crash course in the brain systems that play a major role in your ability to get a body you love. All of these systems can influence your behavior and either help or hurt your ability to have your best body possible.

    Situated at the front third of your brain, it acts like a supervisor for the rest of your brain and body. It is involved with attention, judgment, planning, impulse control, follow-through, and empathy. Low activity in the PFC is linked to a short attention span, impulsivity, a lack of clear goals, and procrastination. Alcohol lowers activity in the PFC, which is why people do such stupid things when they get drunk. It runs lengthwise through the deep parts of the frontal lobes and allows us to shift our attention and be flexible and adaptable and to change when needed.

    When there is too much activity in this area, people tend to become stuck on negative thoughts or actions; they tend to worry, hold grudges, and be oppositional or argumentative. It also may make them more vulnerable to being obsessive or struggle with compulsive behaviors, and has been linked to eating disorders, such as anorexia. Deep limbic system DLS Lying near the center of the brain, the deep limbic system is involved in setting a person's emotional tone.

    When this area is less active, people tend to be more positive and hopeful. Abnormalities in the limbic brain have been associated with mood disorders. Basal ganglia Surrounding the deep limbic system, the basal ganglia are involved with integrating thoughts, feelings, and movements. This part of the brain is also involved in setting a person's anxiety level.

    When there is too much activity in the basal ganglia, people tend to struggle with anxiety and physical stress symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, and muscle tension. With low activity here, people tend to lack motivation. This area is also involved with feelings of pleasure and ecstasy. Cocaine works in this part of the brain. Cookies, cakes, and other treats also activate this area, according to a fascinating new book called The End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler, the former commissioner of the U.

    Food and Drug Administration. Temporal lobes The temporal lobes, located underneath your temples and behind your eyes, are involved with language, short-term memory, mood stability, and temper issues. They are part of the brain's "what pathway," because they help you recognize and name what things are. Trouble in the temporal lobes often leads to memory problems, mood instability, and temper problems. Parietal lobes The parietal lobes toward the top back part of the brain are involved with sensory processing and direction sense.

    The "where pathway" in the brain, they help you know where things are in space, such as navigating your way to the kitchen at night in the dark. The parietal lobes are one of the first areas damaged by Alzheimer's disease, which is why people with this condition tend to get lost. They have also been implicated in eating disorders and body-distortion syndromes, such as with anorexics who think they are fat.

    Occipital lobes Located at the back of the brain, the occipital lobes are involved with vision and visual processing. Cerebellum CB Located at the back-bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum is involved with physical coordination, thought coordination, and processing speed. There are large connections between the PFC and the cerebellum, which is why many scientists think that the cerebellum is also associated with judgment and impulse control.

    When there are problems in the cerebellum, people tend to struggle with physical coordination, slow processing, and trouble learning. Alcohol is directly toxic to this part of the brain. Improving the cerebellum through coordination exercises can improve your prefrontal cortex and also help your judgment and your body. You may be surprised to find out that common, everyday activities and behaviors are often the source of brain drain, which makes it more of a challenge to have a body you love.

    Here are some common things that can hurt your brain and body. Many of these behaviors and activities will be mentioned again in the upcoming solutions throughout this book. They are so vital to your brain and body health that they are worth repeating. Physical trauma Severe injuries, concussions, and even mild trauma can affect every aspect of your health and well-being. Drugs Marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamines, inhalants, and heroin seriously decrease brain function. Illegal drugs aren't the only culprits. Abusing prescription medications, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Xanax, can also hurt the brain.

    Drug abuse may make you feel better in the short term, but in the long term it may be a disaster for you, your looks, and your health. Drugs can drastically increase or decrease appetite, causing weight gain or weight loss, can sap your motivation and energy, and can lead to problems with your skin, teeth, and hair.

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    The images will horrify you. Alcohol You don't have to be a heavy drinker to hurt your brain. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can affect brain function. Studies show that people who drink every day have smaller brains than nondrinkers. When it comes to the brain, size matters! Excess drinking lowers activity in the PFC, the area responsible for judgment, forethought, and planning. That's why people make such stupid decisions when they have had a few too many--like stopping at the burger joint at three o'clock in the morning when they're trying to lose weight, having unprotected sex with someone they just met at a bar, or driving when they've had too much to drink.

    Obesity Fat stores toxic materials. The more fat you have on your body, the worse for your brain. Obesity doubles the risk for Alzheimer's disease and has been associated with decreased brain tissue. Hormonal abnormalities Abnormalities with your thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, or cortisol have all been implicated in both brain and body problems. Malnutrition Your body renews all the cells in your body every few months.

    These new cells draw on all the foods you consume, so you literally are what you eat. If you eat a junk-food diet, you will have a junk-food brain and a junk-food body. As we will see throughout the book, low levels of vitamins, especially vitamin D, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids are also harmful to brain tissue and your body. Chronic inflammation in the body Chronic inflammation constricts blood flow to the brain and heart and is now thought to be at the center of many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and Alzheimer's disease.

    Low blood flow Blood flow is important because it carries oxygen, sugar, vitamins, and nutrients to the brain, and it gets rid of toxins. Nowhere is this more true than for your brain. Chronic stress Difficult marriages, demanding jobs, and financial problems all cause chronic stress. When you constantly feel stressed, your brain tells your body to secrete higher amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. At elevated levels, cortisol increases your appetite and cravings for sugar, making you fat, bumps up your skin's oil production, making you more prone to pimples, increases muscle tension and chronic pain, increases blood pressure, and raises your risk for many serious health conditions.

    Sleep deprivation Getting less than six hours of sleep a night lowers overall brain function and causes your brain to release hormones that increase your appetite and cravings for high-sugar snacks like candy, cakes, and cookies. People who don't get enough sleep tend to eat more calories and gain weight. Skimping on shut-eye also prematurely ages your skin and leaves you with dark, puffy circles under your eyes. Smoking Smoking constricts blood flow to the brain and all the organs in your body, including your skin. Most people can tell if a person is a smoker because his skin looks older than he is.

    I can tell you that their brains look that way too. Smoking is linked with many serious brain and health problems. Too much caffeine Drinking too much caffeinated coffee, tea, sodas, or energy beverages restricts blood flow to the brain, dehydrates the brain, body, and skin, and fools the brain into thinking it does not need to sleep, which are all bad things for your brain and body.

    Watching more than two hours of TV a day also significantly increases your risk for obesity. Violent video games Playing violent video games has led to an increased rate of violence and learning problems. With brain imaging, we see that video games work in the same area as cocaine, and kids and adults tend to get hooked on them like a drug. Spending more than two hours a day playing video games increases the risk of being overweight. Dehydration Your body consists of 70 percent water, and your brain is 80 percent water.

    If you aren't drinking enough water, you reduce brain function. You can also expect to see thinner skin and more fine lines and wrinkles. Lack of exercise When you don't exercise, you decrease blood flow to your brain, your body, and your genitals. It is well documented that a lack of physical activity can negatively affect your weight and overall health; it can also decrease sexual performance.

    Negative thinking We have conducted studies that show that focusing on the things you don't like lowers brain activity, causes your heart to beat faster, increases blood pressure, and negatively affects many systems in your body. Negative thinking can also sabotage your efforts to lose weight, start an exercise program, or quit smoking. Excessive texting and social networking on the Internet Neuroscientists have shown that spending too much time texting and social networking leads to attention problems and may cause difficulties communicating face-to-face.

    It also takes time away from physical activities, making you more prone to an uptick in your weight and a decrease in your general health. I developed a high school course about practical brain science to teach teenagers how to love and care for their brains. It is being used in forty states and seven countries.

    Every time we talk about the things that hurt the brain, some sarcastic student pipes up and asks, "How can I have any fun if I have to avoid all of these things? Who has more fun--the person with the good brain or the person with the bad brain? No matter what your age, the person who has more fun is the one with the healthy brain. The guy with the good brain is better at sticking to a diet and exercise plan, which keeps him fit and healthy and gives him lots of energy to play golf with potential clients or go dancing with his wife.

    The guy with the bad brain might impulsively overeat, which leads to an expanding waistline, type 2 diabetes, and less enjoyment of life. Who is having more fun? The woman with the healthy brain is more likely to sleep well and wake up feeling and looking refreshed, which gives her more confidence in her relationship and keeps her alert at work. The woman with lower brain function might skimp on snoozing, making her feel tired, which affects her job performance and prevents her from getting promoted. It also makes her look tired, which lowers her self-esteem and causes her to withdraw from her romantic partner.

    I have great news for you! After years of analyzing brain scans and treating patients, I have discovered that there are many simple things you can do on a daily basis to boost your brain function. These daily prescriptions can also be the key to a better body. The rest of the book will contain many ideas for enhancing brain function. Here are just a few things you can do to start. Be conscious of how precious it is to you and your loved ones. Eat a good diet. Getting good nutrition is essential to good brain function and to a better body.

    A healthy diet includes lean protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil. Studies show that your brain works better if you eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Take daily vitamins, minerals, and fish oil.