You’re already a high achiever, but could you reach another level of productivity? Phil Kelly, Nutrition Specialist and Director of Body Expert Systems gives actionable tips about how to get your mind and body in top shape.

Are you and your employees functioning at an optimal level?

As leading executives, your brain is your greatest commodity. The ability to be clear, energetic, enthusiastic, utilize your memory, and concentrate is essential. This mental sharpness that allows you to make decisions, motivate and inspire is your craft.

A lot of people go through days, weeks, months, years, and even their entire lives with joint pain, sleep disturbances, skin irritations, fatigue, headaches, depression, brain fog, bloating, indigestion, fatigue, acne, and loss of sex drive. People often accept the fact that they feel “crappy” and believe, “That’s just life.” But, in reality, these symptoms are, for the most part, a result of poor diet and lifestyle. They are simply your body’s feedback to let you know it’s not happy. The fact that there has been a drastic increase in mental disorders over the last 50 years shows that we’re not doing a great job of protecting our minds and utilizing them to their full capacities. There are some simple actions that you can take to protect your brain and help optimize its performance by supporting what’s known as the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB). The Blood Brain Barrier is a selectively permeable barrier around your brain that allows beneficial and important substances through and keeps out harmful toxins and infectious pathogens.

When the brain is exposed to harmful chemicals, it can cause inflammation within the brain that results in brain fog, lack of focus, poor sleep, and food cravings. Prolonged exposure contributes to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. The key to unlocking the full potential of your brain is found in supporting its protective mechanisms and nurturing new cell development. What you eat, what you do, and the pollution you come into contact with, all influence your biology. When your BBB is damaged, you can end up with a “leaky” low-performing brain.

Protect your brain: Here are some of the best ways to support and protect a healthy BBB:

1. Sleep

Quality sleep is considered as important as food for our performance and sustenance. Poor sleep is a big problem in today’s society. Everyone should aim to get 7–9 hours of sleep per 24-hour period. You can aid restorative sleep by consuming 0.2-0.3 mg of Melatonin 30 minutes before bed. This has been shown to help restore optimal blood brain permeability and maintain its integrity

2. Limit Alcohol
The ethanol in alcohol creates a process that causes damage to the barrier and leads to neuron degeneration. Limit yourself to 1 glass of wine per day = approximately 2 units of alcohol.

3. Control Blood Pressure:
Some of the best ways to get your blood pressure within healthy levels are to optimize your Magnesium and Potassium levels. A simple blood test can let you know if you’re within an ideal range; however, normative ranges are not always geared for top performance; they are usually minimum levels to avoid getting sick. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to add a supplement. High-dose garlic can also help (you can get this through an Allicin supplement); and finally, exercise!

4. Avoid BAD FATS
60% of your brain is fat!! Every living cell in your body has a membrane that more or less controls the function of that cell. These membranes are formed from the fats you consume… the quality of that fat essentially equates to the quality of your cells. Try to avoid the following fats:

  • Corn oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower or safflower oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Vegetable oils

A few things you can do to help combat bad fats:

  • Consume adequate vitamin D3 (2,000 – 5,000IU per day.) Make sure you consume this with good oils to aid absorption – quality fish oil, olive oil, or coconut oil for example.
  • Turmeric – ½ tsp a day, but more won’t hurt.
  • Consume good quality vegetables, such as: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, sweet potatoes, dark green leaves, and beans.
  • These will all help mitigate the damage bad fats can do to your brain!
Executives Gary Malcolm and Betina Moldt Rasmussen at a Business Executive Network Meeting

5. Take Supplements
In this fast-paced world, supplementation can help. The following supplements can help support and restore barrier and cell membrane health:

  • Inositol
  • Alpha GPC
  • Berberine
  • Vitamins B12, B6, B9
  • Ginseng
  • Resveratrol
  • Omega-3 Fish Oil (the liquid form is best)
  • Ginger
  • Pomegranate extract

6. Get more Magnesium
Magnesium Sulfate has been shown to have a protective effect on BBB integrity in multiple experimental models. 300-400 mg per day is recommended, but the upper limit is 1,500 mg. You can take this orally, or via spray or lotion, but I recommend taking the time to soak in a magnesium salt bath, which will have the double benefit of de-stressing your body.

7. Avoid frequent snacking
Feeling hungry is good for your brain. The hunger hormone, Ghrelin, can improve BBB integrity.

8. Stimulate the Vagus Nerve
It’s the “backbone” of your parasympathetic nervous system. Multiple studies have shown that stimulating the vagus nerve strengthens the BBB. This is easily done naturally by:

  • Singing
  • Massage
  • Chanting
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Exercise
  • Laughing

9. Cold Thermogenesis
This practice causes increased blood flow and nitric oxide delivery to your brain, which increases BBB integrity and suppresses blood-brain barrier degeneration. Some easy actions to put into practice are:

  • Taking a five-minute cold shower morning and night
  • Take an ice bath once per week
  • Massage
  • Splash cold water on your face during the day
  • Place an ice pack on the back of your neck once or twice a day

These are all great practices and actions for you to include in your daily or weekly routines to help restore and maintain a healthy Blood Brain Barrier, as well as to build new neurons (brain cells) to make sure you’re mentally sharp all day long.

The brain benefits of exercise are immense! Exercise boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BNDF), which promotes new neuron growth. More neurons equal improved cognitive performance. One study found that 30 minutes of intense exercise increased BNDF levels by up to 30%. Growing new cells is not the only benefit, new research shows that low-intensity physical activity appears to positively affect the brain’s network; which is responsible for cognitive control and attention processing. This means that after a walk, yoga, or an easy swim workout you can not only organize your day better, but you will also improve your concentration on specific tasks, which makes you more productive. High-intensity physical activities are best for helping the brain process emotions and strengthen the motor neuron connections between the brain and muscles. This means you will become more coordinated and tolerant of colleagues and stressful situations. Exercise helps the brain become smarter and the body becomes stronger, resulting in improved learning, reduced fatigue, and therefore greater productivity.[C]

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