For many years I’ve noticed the forgotten aspect of training your nervous system and the adaptations it makes to support your activity underpins all the improvements you see.
Just a quick report.
Yesterday I tried having two teaspoons of coffee instead of one. Not a huge change for most people but a lot for me. Oh, and it was normal coffee not decaf. I’ve moved on a long way in my tolerance this past year.
I can’t help but notice how tense I have been since yesterday. Totally abnormal for me. This has been a really relaxing weekend with the Australian Open on just sorting out the house and chilling.
My pulse is faster than normal, my stomach feels like it almost has a knot in it. No matter what I do to relax the feeling is still there. I’ve tried a little meditation, seen a film at the cinema and also distracted myself with house stuff. Normally that’s plenty to let me relax. Even a nice lay in this morning had no effect.
I also felt more tired than normal by the evening yesterday. Needing a little cola to perk me up. That is not me at all. I rarely flag later in the day unless I have a really busy day and at the end of a busy week. I shouldn’t feel like that this weekend, it’s been particularly relaxing and stress free.
Though the feelings I have been having are common when I have when I have more caffeine than usual and are why I want to build up my tolerance. I just felt I should record this to compare with next time and see if it’s a trend. These symptoms reflect what I hear caffeine though I may have misunderstood or remembered the symptoms of excess caffeine incorrectly so I want to check my facts. Overall I want to understand what good and bad things caffeine can do.
I see it as a tool to train your nervous system. Overload it, but it isn’t without risks and I’m not in favour of using chemicals to achieve results. So often the risks out weight the benefits. I build my tolerance to caffeine so that it doesn’t affect me like it is right now. Though I don’t want to increase my dose forever. I just want to find out the balance that’s right for me.
Nurturing The Brain – Part I, Caffeine: A useful summary of what caffeine is and how it effects the brain.
Building on you cure migraine The basic idea is that headaches, particularly migraine could be a reflection of the brain being pushed too hard in some way. Just like physical training can lead to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and severe pain that lasts for days.
Migraines could come in patches because the brain hasn’t fully recovered from the previous exertion. Common factors in migraine such as lack of sleep, water, food and others are all factors in making physical activity harder. It makes sense that the brain would behave in the same way as the body. So maybe the principles of training the body could be used to train the mind and help migraine sufferers.
It’s a very simply but very powerful thought. Have you ever considered migraine this way. There is much more detail I can add but I thought I would make this point first. If you are a migraine sufferer or know about migraines does this make any sense to you?
For years we have been told that exercise is good for us. Now the evidence is becoming indisputable. Being inactive is as bad as smoking or drinking too much alcohol. It could even be more serious than that.
Over the years I’ve found so much information I didn’t know what to do with it. I mainly shared it through my original blog or kept it private hoping to share it when I found the right approach. For many of these articles I’ve now been waiting years which just isn’t helping anyone.
I recently realised my blogs are the perfect medium on which to share because I’m most interested in the discussions and debate around this topic. I don’t feel I have the answers, I share because I’m interested in learning and using what I learn to help me on my journey through life.
I have now started to organise all I have found and it’s re invigorating my dreams because the message really is about living your life. The act of living itself is what we must do. Moving is living. Activity to me isn’t just physical it is mental and emotional. Thinking about things makes your brain active, experiencing emotions involves both your brain and your body.
For now most information will be about physical activity because that is what is most available. Though I am looking for and finding interesting articles in all three areas. Over time this and all the other posts will grow as I continue this life journey.
For now I’m creating a series of articles covering the various topics related to activity and health. So far I have published:
- Obesity: Obesity: What you can do
- Weight loss: How to lose weight
- Cancer: Battling Cancer through exercise
- Insulin Resistance: Can you reverse insulin resistance
- Dementia and Alzheimers: Mental Activity may circumvent dementia
- Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) Can you manage Coronary Heart Disease through physical activity?
- Diabetes: Tackling Diabetes through exercise
Activity is so useful throughout life that I’ve also compiled a list of the main articles worth reading to build your general knowledge.
- effect of physical inactivity on disease worldwide Seminal article giving stats on the cause of disease through inactivity
- pandemic of physical inactivity
- Heart disease and diabetes: Move out of their way: Seminal article linking CHD, Diabetes and insulin resistance.
- What factors make us kick the bucket
- get busy living or get busy dying
- Injury: Correcting impaired cells
Here is more useful information
- Inactivity the greatest public health problem of 21st century: full edition of @BJSM_BMJ http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/current (pay) pic.twitter.com/p4Snikc1jw
- What Ultra-Marathons Do to Our Bodies: Those who race 50 to 100 miles at a time or longer tend to be older and have different health concerns than most of us might expect, new research shows.
- Learn how walking is good for your body.http://go.usa.gov/ZvQH
- The Inactivity Time Bomb: a StreetGames / Cebr report
- Impact of exercise training without caloric restriction on inflammation, insulin resistance and visceral fat mass in obese adolescents: a study investigating whether exercise has health benefits even without calorie restriction. The answer: it does.
- The lancet physical activityobservatory: promoting physical activity world wide: A short summary of the benefits of activity, prevalence of inactivity throughout the world and the current steps to address it.
I’ve been meaning to write this article for a long time but never felt I had the time to do it justice. Now I just feel I have waited too long so I need to put my first draft together and then build it over time.
A recent article Size, connectivity of brain region linked to anxiety level in young children is useful because it provides some evidence that our day to day experiences influence the development of our brain. Of course that is not particularly surprising. What I want to do is look at the insight in a different way than is discussed in the article. The idea that you can control how your brain and emotions develop much like you can train your body. That is kind of a crazy notion but actually something that my training and articles like this indicate is possible.
In the same way you cannot create muscle or tendon where there is none you can’t create new sections of brain or emotion. But you can enhance what is there. So too with the brain and emotions. If you spend your life focusing on being calm and relaxed it stands to reason that your brain and emotional system will connect strongly in the areas required to be calm. If you spend your life getting stressed then your body will see this as a training stimulus and develop the areas to support your stressed lifestyle.
It is this way of thinking that I feel can help you get control of your mind and emotions and make them work for you.
The findings of the study are:
Prolonged stress and anxiety during childhood is a risk factor for developing anxiety disorders and depression later in life. Now, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have shown that by measuring the size and connectivity of a part of the brain associated with processing emotion—the amygdala they can predict the degree of anxiety a young child is experiencing in daily life.
They found that
the larger the amygdala and the stronger its connections with other parts of the brain involved in perception and regulation of emotion, the greater the amount of anxiety a child was experiencing.
The network of arteries supplying blood flow to the brain is more likely to be incomplete in people who suffer migraine, a new study by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reports. Variations in arterial anatomy lead to asymmetries in cerebral blood flow that might contribute to the process triggering migraines.
Read the full article on science daily
This is an incredibly technical explanation. I’m including it for completeness. Let me know what you think.
Ian Bulow made an interesting comment on my previous post on curing migraines. He suggested I look into upper cervical care. Not something I had heard about so it’s an interesting topic. Exactly the kind of response I was hoping for.
He linked to an interview he has upload to youtube explaining what he means by upper cervical care so of course I checked it out. The video has certainly piqued my interest in the area so I will be following it up.
What I liked was the clear explanation of what upper cervical care is, the problems that it addresses and why it can help. I also like it because it fits exactly with things I have experienced. Ian explains that if the cervical spine somehow impinges the blood vessels flowing up to the brain then this can lead to headaches by limiting the nutrients available to the brain.
I have experienced headaches for the same reason but in a different place. Wearing certain trousers and sitting in a certain way I have found I impinge the femoral artery. This restricts blood flow and I get a headache. It seems strange but all I know is that if I change the way I sit to stop the impingement and let the blood flow then the headache goes within 10 – 20 seconds. There could be another explanation but it used to be a continual problem and this same situation was always the problem and fix.
So you can imagine I’m interested in the idea that blood flow to the brain could set up a likelihood of getting a migraine. Ian recommends therapy. That sounds useful. I would also recommend complementing this with a physical activity to improve the body’s ability to supply blood and also the brains ability to extra the nutrients it needs. This is actually what exercise teaches our body. How to survive when there is competition for resources or resources are limited.
I need to learn more but this is my first impresson. Thanks Ian for sharing.
I feel migraine is a very personal challenge and so I am expecting there to be multiple causes. Much like there are for cancer. So I’m not expecting a one size fits all solution. I specialise in finding common patterns that then lead to individual solutions. (more…)
I am a big fan of the Oatmeal and I just love how he explains how caffeine affects a human. I so wish I had his skills. I would love to be able to express things in such a fun way.
I actually learnt something reading this post which I do when I read a lot of his posts. From my memory of how caffeine and other drugs work I think his version is pretty accurate. I just know it will stick in my mind better than most other explanations.
The relation to migraine is because we know it is a stimulant that works on various parts of the body particularly the brain. I’ve always noticed how coffee gives me a turbo boost, but then later I am much more tired than I normally would have been. For me this seems just like the turbo boost you see in video games, particularly simulations of fighter jets (I am a plane geek you see). I remember how you could push your plane really fast for a while to avoid an attacker or something but you would use two to three times as much energy per second to do so. So you have to use it sparingly or you will run out of energy and crash.
A similar thing happens when you overclock your pc. This is a techie thing that means adjusting the way your pc works so it runs faster than normal, putting it in a turbo mode. Gamers often do this because they need their pcs to run as fast as possible. It also means that their computers are much more likely to overheat and fail because they are often being pushed to far.
I see the turbo boost that caffeine provides working the same way on our brain. Normally you have enough energy for the day and recover it at night during sleep. Caffeine puts your brain on turbo so it runs through the energy much sooner so you crash, you run out of the available energy, generally sugar and so you have to start creating sugar from available sources. This stresses the brain. It’s fine, you just need to last until you sleep but now that you’re overloaded it won’t take much to push your brain too far and cause an injury.
This is why I’m researching because the more I investigate the more questions I have like what would a brain injury like this look like?
Here are just a couple of questions.
- The brain itself has no sensory nerves so how does it feel pain?
- I expect the brain would become inflamed when pushed this hard, would this be the cause of the pain or is there another mechanism?
Until the next post. Thanks for listening. What’s your experience with caffeine? does the turbo analogy make sense or do you have a better explanation?