Would you like to get a better handle on stress and be boss of your own brain?
Why do we reach for the sugary foods when life is throwing challenges at us, even though we know it would be better to grab an apple?
According to leading neuroscientist Professor Selena Bartlett, it has to do with how our pleasure-seeking brain responds to stress. Professor Bartlett believes we can beat binge eating and manage other addictions, and improve our mental health, by gaining a better understanding of how the brain works.
In this fascinating podcast for Queensland Mental Health Week, she talks about the simple mindset exercises we can all do to get our day off to a more positive start, literally forming new circuits in the brain. For example, just by wiggling your toes, practising gratitude, or changing your posture, you can send powerful messages to the brain that boost positivity.
Professor Bartlett also explores the link between food and mood, explaining why sugar is so addictive, and how it changes the physical and chemical structure of the brain, in particular the part that controls our emotional reactions.
For instance, did you know that fructose, which is found in so much of the western diet, affects the hypothalamus, and inhibits the release of peptides ghrelin and leptin which give your body the message that it’s full. This can create a cycle where we eat more sugary foods to feel satisfied. The excess calories are stored in the body as dangerous visceral fat which has been linked to obesity, early diabetes, and heart disease.
But it is possible to break the cycle by reducing sugar intake and retraining the brain’s response to stressful situations.
After studying the human brain and addictions for 30 years, Professor Bartlett is regarded as an international trailblazer for her work in neuroplasticity and her mission to change the way we look at mental health.