Last night I was watching a show on iView called redesigning your brain. It’s based on this guy, Todd Sampson, who undertakes brain training for three months while neurologists monitor the changes in his brain. It’s all about brain plasticity. And it’s fascinating.
As I watched, it occurred to me that the brain training was focused on engaging in new behaviours, new habits, which cause the brain to create new pathways or synapses, and then strengthening these pathways through repetition.
I realised that by setting myself this raw challenge, I had embarked on a kind of redesigning my brain. I had made myself more likely to stick to new behaviour because I implicitly accepted that, as a challenge, it would be, well, challenging, duh, right? To challenge myself means being out of my comfort zone, accepting things will be unusual, uncomfortable, new.
I couldn’t do it lazy and eat the same thing every day because I needed to post new recipes. Writing this blog strengthened my resolve by making me accountable to the commitment I’d made.
I knew people were curious about my discoveries – friends, families, colleagues, and people I hadn’t even met, began to share their food and health journeys with me. This gave me faith and courage that this wasn’t some self indulgent exercise, but an undertaking of meaning and purpose.
According to Redesign Your Brain, something as simple as eating a new food each day creates new connections in your brain. (Mine should be huge by now!) The research on brain plasticity shows there is much to be gained by challenging ourselves with new behaviours.
The old thinking about brain cells, that once programmed they were set in stone, has been overturned. Now the research shows that the brain is incredibly resilient, resourceful and adaptable.
But you have to use it. Like all of nature, the human brain is super-efficient and energy saving, so if you only make the same old demands on it, eat the same food, drive the same way to work, do the same activities all the time, your brain doesn’t need to create new connections, so it doesn’t.
It’s fascinating watching the show as Todd’s brain increases in capability, functionality, and effectiveness through simple brain training exercises. And it’s inspiring to know that by changing our diet, or taking a different route to work we can begin to expand our own brain power. How simple is that?
I also read this article about the brain-gut connection and it’s effect on psychiatric disorders, see here. I have a particular interest in the brain-gut connection since my son was diagnosed with autism 8 years ago.
After his diagnosis, in addition to various accepted modalities for treating autism, such as speech therapy, psychology, and social skills training, I also investigated all kinds of alternative treatments.
As a result, he was treated at age 4 for leaky gut. Leaky gut is a syndrome where the intestinal lining has become compromised and both fails to absorb essential nutrients and allows particles to pass into the blood stream that essentially toxify the body.
The treatment for this syndrome was a special diet and supplements. I’m not saying it cured him, but you wouldn’t know he had autism these days. And I always know when he hasn’t been following his diet because the decline in his communication skills is quite dramatic.
All this research supports my gut feeling (excuse the pun) that diet really is vital to all aspects of our health.
I also read a really saddening article today about the state of the ocean. It’s here if you want to read it The Ocean Is Broken by Greg Ray.
I found it especially sad because it doesn’t offer any solutions. In fact the most obvious solution, like, well, go clean up the ocean, could potentially do more harm than good.
There’s a number of factors at play, but the main one was the fishing industry, the massive trawlers that plunder the ocean day and night, keeping only a small portion of what they catch then tossing dead fish back into an almost lifeless ocean.
It’s almost like reading about genocide. Because essentially we are murdering this planet.
It’s easy to get disillusioned, to reach a state of despair over the environmental catastrophe we find ourselves in. It’s easy to feel powerless when politics and activism don’t seem to be changing things, and certainly not fast enough. The logical mind would rightly call the situation hopeless.
Yet there is another perception which I am very open to, because really the alternative is too depressing.
The other alternative, espoused by many people from Albert Einstein, to the postmodern quantum physicists, to Marianne Williamson and Louise Hay, not to mention pretty much all spiritual doctrine, is that we create the world through our perception of it. So that all that is needed for change – even for the scale of change that seems truly miraculous – is for enough people to believe it’s possible. And that’s it.
What? I know. It just sounds too simplistic. It couldn’t be that easy, right? Then I thought about a book I read about quantum physicists when they first encountered wave-particle duality, they discovered that it was totally dependent on the observer (and their expectations) as to whether they saw one “reality” or another.
So if there’s no absolute reality, if the act of observing, interacting, and perceiving the world actually changes its form, then, hell yeah, it’s totally reasonable to assume that what can happen at the microscopic scale can also happen on a massive scale – a change in human consciousness could change the physical environment. See more here on wave-particle duality.
Phew! I know a tangent when I see one! My point is…
So 100 days. Who would have thought that I’d still be eating raw? Not me, that’s for sure!
I said at the outset I would try eating raw and see what happens. So what has happened? Probably not what I thought would happen – I did have some lurking notion that I’d end up looking like Miranda Kerr. That hasn’t happened. However plenty of positive (and mostly unexpected) things have.
I love green smoothies, I feel like a clean, green machine. I never thought I’d honestly say that. It’s hard to explain, like a sensation that my body is running efficiently, that it’s not clogged up with processed and “filler” foods. I have developed a real respect for real food, as made by mother nature and just how perfectly nourishing it is.
I feel connected to the earth, I’m making ethical choices by eating fresh, locally grown, organic, plant-based food. Ethical because it leaves a smaller carbon footprint than buying processed and imported food; it financially supports local farmers; and it ensures there will be the option of organic food for future generations by making organic land use sustainable.
The top 13 things I most love about going raw (so far)…
1. Feeling clean on the inside
2. Eating the way nature intended
3. Reading about nutrition
4. Discovering like-minded friends
5. Trying new foods
6. Switching to organically grown food
7. Respect for my body and the earth
8. Eliminating toxins in cleaning products, make-up, toiletries
9. Giving up pharmaceutical pain killers
10. Being a positive role model for my son
11. Growing my own food
12. Not using the microwave
13. Reawakening my intuition
That last one sounds very woo-woo I know. But there’s something about feeding your body with raw, natural foods and eliminating toxins that opens up the mind/body/spirit connection. It is also a by-product of choosing an eating regime that is outside of the norm, so you have to learn to trust yourself.
In short making a commitment to eat raw, to change one thing in my life, has changed my whole life. And so it can be with the world. From little things big things grow.
Although it’s hard to believe something as simple as what we eat can change the world, the reality is our food choices have an impact on our carbon footprint. Eating a plant-based, locally, organically grown diet ensures we are not contributing to the destruction of our environment through over-fishing and unsustainable agricultural practices.
One person can’t change the world. But maybe someone will read my blog and make a small change, and they’ll influence someone else to change a little and so on. And maybe Marianne Williamson will get elected to the US Congress and even politics could change. If we believe in it, anything is possible!
Now for some food. After all that pontificating, how about the recipe for this super-simple, but insanely delicious salad dressing?
The best salad dressing ever!
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 tbsp Braggs Amino Acid Sauce
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Whish with a fork in a cup or jar. Pour on salad. Be amazed!
Thanks for following my raw journey!