BRAIN: HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE

JANUARY 13, 2015 || AARON DAVIS

Health and Performance are often talked about from the neck down (Cardiovascular and Muscular system).  

Yet the brain is the master controller of the heart, lungs, and our muscles.  It plays a huge role in the aging process as well as regulating the vast amount of functions of the body. It is our “central governor” of fatigue and you only need to google the buzzword “CNS Training”  to realize the importance of the brain in coordination and strength. 

For us at Train Adapt Evolve we try to take a top down approach.  

Get off the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster! 

To optimize brain function we need stabilize the brain’s fuel source: Glucose.  

Do you go long periods of time without eating?  Feel “Hangry,” light-headed, or have the jitters before meals (Hypoglycemic)? 

Or 

Do you feel fatigued after meals and constantly hungry and/craving sweets (Insulin Resistant)?  

If so, these are all symptoms of you taking a ride!

This has a major effect on brain chemistry, stress, inflammation, sleep patterns, moods, concentration, endurance, and power output. 

With that said, this would be a good time to peddle our secret diet (sarcasm) to fix all of this. 

Yet I will leave that for Coach House.  Just know it doesn’t begin with you walking out the door with a jelly donut and a Diet Coke, but maybe healthy fats, protein, and veggies!

 

Slow Down!  

Stress is a silent killer.  The more evals we do, the more we realize people have lost the ability to perceive stress.  

Lack of sleep, grinding through a hard work day, taking care of their kids, eating on the run,   headaches, tension, brain fog, oh and you can’t forget Austin’s traffic. 

This is all in a normal day.  

People can’t feel their heart beating 80 times a minute sitting in traffic, or how they are in a constant state of hyperventilation from poor exhalation in their breathing pattern. Meanwhile dry skin and eyes and poor digestion are ignored. 

This is not normal or a part of growing older! (an excuse I often hear) 

These are all symptoms of too much stress and inflammation on the brain.  

It is hard to talk about stress without mentioning Cortisol, but lets get one thing straight, Cortisol is not Evil! 

It’s our “Biological Amplifier.”  

If you are healthy and manage stress well, cortisol can be an athlete’s and coaches bestfriend, improving endurance and hypertrophy.  

If stress dominates your day, cortisol can deteriorate the blood – brain barrier (protective lining of the brain), as well as cause inflammation, over-activation in the hippocampus (throwing off your circadian rhythm), and effects memory loss (early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease) . 

Stress-induced inflammation is now accepted as the leading cause of chronic disease in middle age.  

All conditions we want to avoid.  

Slow down, exhale slowly, and take time to perceive how you feel.  Only then can you learn to manage stress.

 

Performance

The many benefits of optimizing our brain chemistry include supporting neurotransmitters (chemical signaling that helps our brain cells communicate with each other).

Neurotransmitters like Norepinephrine (Adrenaline) are employed by our sympathetic nervous systems which can give us our optimal arousal state for competitions (it may also cause an athlete to fold under pressure).  You have no doubt seen this as athletes try to “Get Up” for a 1RM attempt. 

Another neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine, is used by our parasympathetic nervous system; it controls how we recover from hard bouts of exercise or stress, it can improve your movement memory, and it functions as a neuromuscular messenger effecting muscular control and tone.

The list can go on.  

The big takeaway is to look at health and performance from a different perspective.  Adopt a top-down model and start where Health and Performance begin. 

By: Aaron Davis

-Kharrazian, Datis (2013-05-01). Why Isn’t My Brain Working? Elephant Press. 

-Daruna, Jorge H. (2012-03-09). Introduction to Psychoneuroimmunology. Elsevier Science. 

-Pearson, Durk. Shaw, Sandy (1980) Life Extension. Warner Books

-Viru, A. Viru M. (2001) Biochemical Monitoring of Sport Training. Human Kinetics