Think And Eat Yourself Smart: A Neuroscientific Approach To A Sharper Mind And Healthier Life


    In 1995, Dr. John Ratey published a ground-breaking book called The Man Whowoke Up and It Happened to Him. In it, he explores the field of cognitive enhancement and the ways in which we can upgrade our own intelligence.

    His concept is that we can find temporary improvements in our thinking by regularly attending to learning materials and exercises. He calls this “thinkology” and refers to it as a means to an end: improving mental health.

    By attending self-care rituals such as meditation and Daily mindfulness practices, you could potentially improve your overall quality of life. You may also feel more confident in your daily decisions and actions, which could lead to improvements in your health metrics such as mood and productivity.

    Nutrition and the brain

    think and eat yourself smart: a neuroscientific approach to a sharper mind and healthier life

    Our bodies cannot fully utilize nutrients in our diet and therefore requires additional compounds in your diet to function. This is why people who don’t eat a lot can feel hungry and have an adverse effect on their health — the body needs to consume essential nutrients for proper functioning.

    The recommended amount of protein you should eat per day is between 1–1.5 grams per day. This amount is sufficient to help your body use all of the structures in which protein consists of.

    Agreat deal of people don’t get enough protein in their diets and this can have negative effects on your health. Not only does this have a negative effect on your health, but it costs money! You can find out whether you are getting enough protein by paying attention to how much fat and carbohydrate foods you eat every day.

    Exercise and the brain

    think and eat yourself smart: a neuroscientific approach to a sharper mind and healthier life

    The benefits of exercise are countless. From improved moods and sleep to weight loss and maintenance, there is a good reason to get up and go outside every so often.

    However, there is a reason not to exercise- or even think about exercising.

    You know why?

    Because you don’t need to!

    Yes, you might feel more motivated to get out of the house and exercise if you’re already active, but the truth is that only moderate exercise is going to help your mind and body rest. Only very vigorous workouts will make you feel powerful. And only when you’re feeling healthy can you start easy workouts like walking the dog or getting in some gardening done.

    Learning to learn

    think and eat yourself smart: a neuroscientific approach to a sharper mind and healthier life

    In his book Think and Eat Yourself Smart, neuroscientist David Dinges presents the theory that the key to self-improvement is learning.

    Through intentional practice, you can shift your brain into a more learning mode and start improving your ability to think, learn, and behave in more intelligent ways.

    This theory has resonated with many people, including me. Not only does it sound like a good idea, but also it comes with specific steps that you can take as a individual or as a group.

    For instance, try taking one of his self-guided online courses or go to one of the groups he runs in San Francisco or Los Angeles.

    Stress and relaxation

    think and eat yourself smart: a neuroscientific approach to a sharper mind and healthier life

    It’s important to be aware of how much stress your life is containing. A stressful lifestyle can contribute to a Lower Back Pain (LBP) diagnosis.

    A diagnosis of LBP doesn’t mean that you have back pain, but rather that you are in pain and require pain relief. It is an early sign of potential surgery or other medical treatment, so it is important to know when to seek help.

    How much stress you have and how often you experience stress vary across people, but both low levels of stress and daily experiences of high stress are harmful.

    The harmful effects of only being aware of your stress level can be seen in the ways that people tend to develop habits that mask the signs and symptoms of Stress.

    For instance: 1) eating before or on a break after every activity starts with an understanding of how much stress affects eating patterns; 2) keeping track of overall activity levels by adding activities into my weekly errands; 3) investing in practices such as breathing exercises or meditation.

    Sleep and dreaming

    think and eat yourself smart: a neuroscientific approach to a sharper mind and healthier life

    While we don’t get much sleep in our everyday lives, most of us don’t sleep enough either.

    In fact, we sleep less than the recommended six to seven hours per night on average.

    And when we do get asleep, our dreams are usually unfulfilled and disappointing.

    Because while we may be able to believe in a tomorrow that isn’t now, a tomorrow that is full of disappointment is hardly a tomorrow we want to live in.

    If you’re anything like many of us, you spend your day dreaming about what you could be doing instead, and how good it would feel to have those dreams come true. You feel like your mind and body are just letting you down for not wanting them more badly at this point. It hurts.

    Mood management

    think and eat yourself smart: a neuroscientific approach to a sharper mind and healthier life

    Our moods aren’t exactly made to order for stay in bed and sleep mode, so we have to learn how to cope with them. In fact, more than anything else, this skill can help you keep your health and fitness goals set or beat them.

    Mood management is a critical part of health and fitness. For example, people who are feeling stressed often don’t eat as well or exercise as regularly or consistently as they could.

    A recent study looked at how well people who were working out attended to their workouts. Namely, the researchers asked the gymgoers to watch their workouts on a computer screen for only a few seconds before switching it off. They believed this would make it easier to keep an eye on what they were doing and attend to it more fully.

    The problem was that the people watching the workout on the computer screen didn’t really pay attention to it enough while they were exercising.

    Emotions and feelings

    think and eat yourself smart: a neuroscientific approach to a sharper mind and healthier life

    Our feelings are a integral part of health and wellness. For example, we feel happy or sad which affects our motivation to take action in relation to goals.

    How you feel affects your behavior which in turn affects how well you achieve your goals. For instance, a feeling of happiness will likely result in you to take more active steps than a feeling of sadness.

    The term emotion refers to feelings such as joy, love, hate and regret but rather than focusing on the specific feelings that arise within us, as do with drugs like opiods and alcohol, we should focus on how we feel when we experience an emotion.

    For example, when we feel angry we experience an up-down pattern of waveforms that include high intensity periods and calm periods. We also find that when we experience an emotion there is a associated physiological response such as changes in blood pressure and heart rate.

    Sensory experiences

    think and eat yourself smart: a neuroscientific approach to a sharper mind and healthier life

    Our brains are designed to experience everything. For instance, you can find many examples of this in the lab and in the street, but also in the kitchen and on the sofa with a TV or DVD playing.

    This is called sensitive perception and has some nice consequences for health.

    For instance, people who are sensitive to light or sound usually enjoy what they see and hear too. This is why you can find your favourite things constantly around you, even if you don’t notice them at the time. It also explains why we always feel like we need to keep watching a TV series or movie series going because something new always seems to be happening on it!

    Why? Because each new episode seems to stimulate new sensory input systems in our brains, which we hadn’t yet processed before. These feed back into our system and add more details to what we experience.

    This doesn’t just apply to television shows and movies, however. Anything that stimulates our senses — whether physical or mental — can have health benefits.


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