woman thinking

Mind Over Matter: How Your Thoughts Shape Your Health, According to Neuroscience

5 Ways to Shift Your Mindset and Boost Your Health

Are you wondering if your mindset might be impacting your health?

If so, you’re not alone!

Research shows that our thoughts and beliefs significantly impact our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And by cultivating a positive mindset, we can experience better health outcomes, greater resilience, and reduced stress levels.

Sounds pretty great, right?

But I get it – changing our mindset isn’t always easy, especially when we have long-standing patterns of negative thinking or limiting beliefs. That’s why we’re here to provide practical guidance and actionable steps to help you shift your mindset in a strategic, focused way.

From practicing mindfulness and positive self-talk to trying cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and gratitude practices, we’ll cover a range of strategies you can incorporate into your daily life to improve your health and well-being.

So if you’re ready to totally UNLEASH the power of your mind and start feeling your BEST, keep reading for my top tips and strategies for shifting your mindset and improving your health!

What does it mean to have a positive mindset?

A positive mindset means having a mental attitude that focuses on the positive aspects of situations rather than dwelling on negative ones. It involves cultivating thoughts and beliefs that support well-being, optimism, and resilience, even in the face of challenges or adversity.

A positive mindset includes attitudes such as:

  • Gratitude
  • Optimism
  • Resilience
  • Self-efficacy
  • Mindfulness
  • Compassion

However, having a positive mindset does not mean ignoring negative emotions or denying the challenges that come with life. It’s normal to experience negative emotions, and it’s important to acknowledge and address them, focusing on the positive aspects of the situation and finding ways to move forward in a healthy and constructive way.

The Neuroscience Behind Mindset

Our brains constantly process information and send signals throughout our body, affecting everything from hormone levels to immune responses. And when we experience stress or negative emotions, our brain releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can negatively impact our health if not managed properly.

On the other hand, a positive mindset can have a range of benefits for health and well-being. Neuroscience research indicates that when we focus on positive thoughts and beliefs, the structure and function of the brain can actually change. 

You’re probably thinking: Really?… A simple thought affects the physical structure of our brain??

YES! You are what you think.  

Studies have found that people who practice mindfulness meditation regularly have increased gray matter density in areas of the brain associated with attention, emotional regulation, and self-awareness. 

Similarly, research has shown that people who engage in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to change negative thought patterns experience changes in brain activity in areas associated with emotional regulation and cognitive control. 

Overall, the neuroscience behind mindset suggests that our thoughts and beliefs massively impact the brain and its functioning. And by focusing on positive thoughts and beliefs, we can enhance our coping skills and resilience, which can help us manage stress and recover more quickly from illness or injury.

How Mindset Correlates to Your Physical Health

Studies show that our thoughts and emotions can impact everything from our cardiovascular health to our immune system and even our lifespan. 

Here are four key areas of your health that are directly impacted by your mindset:

  • Cardiovascular Health: A positive mindset can help reduce stress and promote healthy behaviors like regular exercise, reducing the risk of heart disease and improving overall cardiovascular health.
  • Mental Health: A positive mindset is linked to better mental health outcomes, including a lower risk of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. This is because positive thoughts and beliefs can help reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being.
  • Immune Health: When we experience positive emotions, our body releases hormones like oxytocin and endorphins, which help boost the immune system and increase its ability to fight infections. A positive mindset can also motivate us to engage in healthy behaviors like getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy diet, all of which can help strengthen our immune system.
  • Inflammation: A positive mindset helps to train ourselves to cope with stressful situations, which in turn helps control our cortisol levels and prevent inflammatory damage to the body, including chronic issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, which are all triggered by inflammation.

These are just a few ways a positive mindset impacts health outcomes. A positive mindset can also lead to better management of chronic illnesses, improve pain management, and decrease our risk of age-related health problems.

5 Ways to Shift Your Mindset and Improve Your Health

Shifting your mindset can be a powerful tool for improving your health and well-being. Changing how you think and perceive the world around you can transform your mental and physical health, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote greater happiness and fulfillment in your life.

Try these five ways to shift your mindset and improve your health:

1. Practice Mindful Meditation

Mindful meditation can be a powerful way to reduce stress, increase focus and concentration, and improve overall health. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Start with a few minutes each day and gradually increase as you get more comfortable.
  • Experiment with different techniques, including guided, mantra, or mindfulness meditation, to find what works best for you.
  • Be patient. It’s natural for your mind to wander.
  • When all else fails, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body.

Like any skill, meditation takes practice. Be patient with yourself, and focus on the process rather than the outcome. With time and consistency, you’ll experience these powerful practices' benefits.

2. Focus on Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk can be a powerful way to boost self-confidence, improve mood, and promote greater well-being. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Start by paying attention to your thoughts and noticing any patterns or recurring negative thoughts.
  • When you notice a negative thought, challenge it with a positive one.
  • Use positive affirmations to reinforce positive self-talk.
  • Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would offer a friend.

Positive self-talk takes practice, but with time and consistency, you’ll start to notice a shift in your mindset and an improvement in your overall well-being.

3. Build a Gratitude Practice

Building a gratitude practice is a beautiful way to help you shift your focus towards positivity and cultivate greater happiness. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Begin by identifying one thing you’re grateful for each day.
  • Keep a journal to track your progress and reinforce your positive thinking.
  • Pay attention to the small things to help you stay grounded in the present moment.
  • Express gratitude to others. This is especially powerful when you mentally shift how you feel towards people against whom you have held grudges, and instead of entertaining these old thought patterns, shift and show your gratitude.

Building a gratitude practice will take some getting used to, but by focusing on the positive and cultivating a sense of gratitude, you’ll be on your way to a happier and more fulfilling life. 

4. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy often used to treat a variety of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. Here are some tips if you’re considering CBT:

  • Look for a licensed mental health professional specializing in CBT. Try asking for referrals from your care providers, friends, or family.
  • CBT is based on the premise that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all interconnected and that changing our thoughts can lead to changes in how we feel and behave. Be open to trying new things!
  • Set realistic goals for your therapy.
  • Keep an open mind.

Starting CBT can be a big step towards improving your mental health. Still, with regular practice (and some patients with yourself), you can develop new skills and strategies to manage your thoughts and emotions more effectively.

5. Start a Breathwork Practice

Breathwork is a powerful practice that can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, improve lung function, enhance cardiovascular health, boost immune function, and increase overall vitality. By consciously controlling and manipulating your breath, you can bring a sense of calm and balance into your day.

Discover the transformative effects of breathwork with these tips to help you get started:

  • Choose a quiet and peaceful space free of distractions.
  • Start by noticing your breath’s natural rhythm and sensations as it flows in and out of your body.
  • Explore different techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, or alternate nostril breathing, to find what resonates for you.
  • Start with 5-10 minute sessions and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable. 

Breathwork is a personal practice; finding what works best for you may take time. Be patient, listen to your body, and allow the transformative power of your breath to guide you toward improved health and inner peace.  

No matter what practice you choose for enhancing your mindset, it’s important to find activities that resonate with you and that you enjoy so that you can experience their full benefits.

Think Yourself Well 

Shifting your mindset is great for your health and can empower you toward optimal wellness!

You can tap into your inner power and control your health by practicing positive self-talk, gratitude, mindfulness, or exploring alternative therapies. So whether you’re looking to reduce stress, boost your immune function, improve your cardiovascular health, or power your healthspan, there are endless possibilities to transform your life by shifting your mindset. 

Take the plunge and start thinking yourself well, with support from Reboot Center.

Experience Reboot Center’s innovative Empowered Wellness approach. Schedule a complimentary health strategy session to find out more today.

Interested in other ways you can upgrade your brain? Join the BrainReboot Program for a comprehensive assessment and brain revitalization journey.

Resources

1. "Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being - NCBI." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/. Accessed 12 May. 2023.

2. "The neuroscience of positive emotions and affect - ScienceDirect.com." https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763420306801. Accessed 12 May. 2023.

3. "Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter ...." 10 Nov. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/. Accessed 12 May. 2023.

4. "Neural Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Psychiatric ...." 31 Mar. 2022, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.853804/full. Accessed 12 May. 2023.

5. "The Protective Role of Positive Well-Being in Cardiovascular Disease." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5060088/. Accessed 12 May. 2023.

6. "Mindsets and adolescent mental health - Nature." 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.nature.com/articles/s44220-022-00009-5. Accessed 12 May. 2023.

7. "Mind-Body Medicine and Immune System Outcomes: A Systematic ...." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3516431/. Accessed 12 May. 2023.

8. "Optimism and immunity: Do positive thoughts always lead to ... - NCBI." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1948078/. Accessed 12 May. 2023.

9. "The association of optimism and pessimism with inflammation and ...." 25 Jan. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842951/. Accessed 12 May. 2023.

 10. "What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?." https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral. Accessed 12 May. 2023.


woman avoiding diet soda

5 Neurotoxins Found in Food and How to Avoid Them

Have you ever considered that the food you eat might contain harmful substances that are damaging your brain?

From artificial sweeteners to heavy metals and pesticide residues, these neurotoxins (“brain toxins”) can accumulate in our bodies over time, leading to chronic health problems. 

I will explore the various neurotoxins found in our food and their effects on the brain, plus I’ll provide you with tips on how to avoid them to help protect your neurological health.

What are neurotoxins?

Neurotoxins are substances that can harm or damage nerve tissue or nerve cells (neurons) in the body, leading to various neurological symptoms and disorders.1 

Numerous natural and synthetic sources contain neurotoxins, including plants, animals, and man-made chemicals. Exposure to these toxins can interfere with the normal functioning of the nervous system, disrupting communication between nerve cells. 

Why are neurotoxins so dangerous?

Neurotoxins are particularly dangerous because they can disrupt the normal functioning of the nervous system, which is responsible for controlling and coordinating all the body’s functions. this triggers an immune response that leads to inflammation.2

Some neurotoxins can damage the structure of nerve cells, causing them to malfunction or die. Others can interfere with the release or uptake of neurotransmitters, leading to imbalances that disrupt normal brain function. Still, others can interfere with the production or metabolism of neurotransmitters, leading to similar disruption of brain function.3

Symptoms of Neurotoxin Exposure

The effects of neurotoxins on the nervous system can be acute or chronic, depending on the toxin type and the exposure extent. 

Acute exposure to high levels of neurotoxins can cause the rapid onset of symptoms, such as:4

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Twitching or spasms
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Respiratory distress
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Seizures

The symptoms of chronic neurotoxin exposure can be more subtle and challenging to recognize than the symptoms of acute exposure. Some common symptoms of chronic neurotoxin exposure may include the following:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems or cognitive impairment
  • Mood changes, such as depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma or bronchitis 

Chronic neurotoxin exposure can also contribute to chronic health problems like neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases), autoimmune disorders, and cancer. 

5 Neurotoxins Found in Food and How to Avoid Them

The impact of neurotoxins on brain inflammation underscores the importance of identifying and avoiding these substances whenever possible. 

Here are 5 common neurotoxins found in food and some tips on how to avoid them:

1. Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener commonly used as a sugar substitute in various foods and beverages labeled as “sugar-free” or “diet.” You may also be familiar with aspartame in the Equal or NutraSweet packets found on most restaurant tables. 

Studies have linked aspartame consumption to numerous symptoms, including: 5

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach cramps or abdominal pain
  • Changes in mood or behavior, such as anxiety or depression
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Changes in vision or hearing

Plus, aspartame can trigger or worsen symptoms associated with diabetes, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.6

How to Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

To avoid artificial sweeteners in your diet, start by looking at your food labels. Look for terms like “aspartame,” “sucralose,” “acesulfame potassium,” and “neotame.” There are also several natural sweeteners that you can use, including:

  • Stevia
  • Monk fruit extract
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut sugar

2. Diacetyl

One of America’s favorite low-calorie, high-fiber snacks, popcorn, hides a nasty neurotoxin – diacetyl!

Diacetyl is a chemical compound used as a flavoring agent in some foods, particularly in butter-flavored products such as microwave popcorn, margarine, and snack foods. However, diacetyl is linked to serious respiratory issues that cause inflammation and obstruction in the lungs' small airways, leading to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.7

In addition to respiratory issues, research has linked diacetyl exposure to oxidative stress and damage to DNA.8 Plus, evidence suggests that diacetyl may be able to cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially causing damage to brain cells and contributing to the development of neurological disorders.

How to Avoid Diacetyl

Popping and flavoring homemade popcorn with natural ingredients such as salt, organic butter or olive oil, and nutritional yeast is the easiest way to avoid diacetyl.

Check the labels if you’re purchasing microwavable or pre-popped popcorn. Several brands are available that don’t have diacetyl, including Quinn, Boom Chicka Pop, and Lesser Evil.

3. MSG

MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a flavor enhancer commonly used in processed foods.9 MSG is made from sodium and glutamate, an important brain neurotransmitter found naturally in many foods. Evidence suggests that excessive glutamate can act as an excitotoxin, causing brain cells to become overactive and ultimately leading to their death.10  

Many people report a wide range of symptoms after consuming MSG, including:

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Diarrhea 
  • Numbness and tingling

How to Avoid MSG

MSG is in many processed foods. Read labels carefully and look for products that use natural flavors rather than artificial ones, as these are less likely to contain MSG.

This is also an excellent opportunity to experiment with other seasonings. You can use herbs and spices to flavor your food, and experimenting with different combinations can be fun. Lastly, be cautious when eating out; inquire if MSG is used in the restaurant.

4. Mercury

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal in the environment, including in bodies of water where fish and other aquatic absorb the metal. So even though eating fish can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet, consuming fish high in mercury, such as swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tuna, can harm your health.11  

Ingesting high levels of mercury can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Moodswings
  • Numbness
  • Tremors

How to Avoid Mercury

To reduce the risk of mercury exposure from fish, I recommend choosing lower mercury species, such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and wild trout, and avoiding or eating species with higher mercury content sparingly, including shark, swordfish, and tuna. It’s also important to pay attention to the source of the fish, as fish from polluted waters may contain higher levels of mercury.

5. Aluminum

Aluminum is a metal commonly found in the environment. Exposure can occur through various sources, including foods such as baking powder, pickled vegetables, canned goods and processed cheese, water, air, and consumer products. 

It’s believed that aluminum interferes with various cellular processes and causes oxidative stress, inflammation, and damage to nerve cells.12 Plus, it has been linked to several neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS.

Exposure to high levels of aluminum can occur in occupational settings. Still, exposure is more common at home through certain types of cookware, antacids, baking powder, and some cosmetics and personal care products. 

How to Avoid Aluminum

Because aluminum is a naturally occurring environmental element, avoiding exposure is impossible. However, you can take some precautionary steps to help reduce your exposure and minimize potential harm to your health.

  • Avoid using aluminum or non-stick cookware; opt for stainless steel, glass, ceramic, or cast iron instead.
  • Avoid aluminum additives, such as baking powder and processed cheese. 
  • Switch out cosmetics and personal care products for aluminum-free alternatives. A great place to start is with antiperspirants or deodorants. 

Additional Neurotoxins to Be Aware Of

There are many types of neurotoxins and new substances are constantly identified and studied. So, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a few additional neurotoxins to look out for.

  • Sucralose: An artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute in many processed foods and beverages shown to alter brain chemistry and decrease the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.13
  • Perchlorate: A chemical compound commonly used in rocket fuel, fireworks, and some fertilizers that can contaminate soil and water supplies.14  
  • Red food coloring: A synthetic dye made from chemicals like amaranth and azo dyes used to give foods and beverages a red color. The dye is linked to hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children and may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer and cause allergic reactions in some people.15
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS): A sweetener made from corn starch used in processed food and beverages that contain high levels of fructose, which is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, oxidative stress, and inflammation in the brain.16
  • Trans fats: Unsaturated fats used in processed foods to improve taste and texture that disrupt cell membranes’ function and increase brain inflammation.17 Trans fats have also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.
  • Pesticides and herbicides: Chemicals used to kill or control pests and weeds in agriculture that may increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and ALS.18 19 They have also been linked to developmental delays, cognitive impairment, and other neurological problems in children and adults.

It’s Not Too Late to Put Your Brain First

To protect our neurological health, it is vital to understand neurotoxins' effects on the brain and learn how to avoid them in our diets. By making conscious choices about the foods we eat, we can minimize our exposure to these harmful substances and promote optimal brain function.

And it’s never too late to put your brain first!

With our BrainReboot program, you will discover your foundational challenges leading to suboptimal brain function. And then, we’ll work together to systemically upgrade both your body and your brain so that you can achieve optimal brain function.

Don’t hit snooze on this unparalleled program!

Get started on your revolutionary brain optimization journey by scheduling a complimentary BrainReboot strategy session

Resources

1. "Neurotoxin - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics." https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/neurotoxin. Accessed 20 Apr. 2023.

2. "Neurotoxicity - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics." https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/neurotoxicity. Accessed 26 Apr. 2023.

3. "Neurotoxicology: what the neurologist needs to know." https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/75/suppl_3/iii29. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

4. "Neurotoxicity - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics." https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/neurotoxicity. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

5. "Neurophysiological symptoms and aspartame: What is the ... - PubMed." https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28198207/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

6. "Sugar- and artificially-sweetened beverages and the risks of incident ...." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5405737/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

7. "Respiratory Toxicity of Diacetyl in C57BI/6 Mice - PMC - NCBI." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2669658/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

8. "Silymarin constrains diacetyl-prompted oxidative stress and ... - NCBI." 2 Apr. 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9135832/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

9. "Extensive use of monosodium glutamate: A threat to public health?." 19 Mar. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938543/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

10. "Pictorial Review of Glutamate Excitotoxicity: Fundamental Concepts ...." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7973850/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

11. Neurotoxicity of mercury: an old issue with contemporary significance." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8276940/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

12. "Aluminum in neurological disease – a 36 year multicenter study - PMC." 29 Nov. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6550484/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

13. "Sucralose, A Synthetic Organochlorine Sweetener - NCBI." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856475/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

14. "Perchlorate: Health Effects and Technologies for Its Removal from ...." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2681191/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

15. "Synthetic Food Colors and Neurobehavioral Hazards - NCBI." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3261946/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

16. "High fructose corn syrup induces metabolic dysregulation and ...." 29 Dec. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5747444/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

17. "The Effect of Trans Fatty Acids on Human Health: Regulation and ...." 14 Oct. 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8535577/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

18. "Neurotoxicity of Pesticides - PMC - NCBI." 13 Jun. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826260/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.

19. "Toxic Effects of Glyphosate on the Nervous System - NCBI." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9101768/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2023.