Posted in Of Heart and Mind

Your Brain on Gratitude

‘Tis the season. Thanksgiving is here, and soon, Christmas will be, too. Today, in church service, we discovered how our body and mind respond to experiencing gratitude on a regular basis. This is what we will be discussing today.

An individual is positively affected neurologically, physically and emotionally when they experience gratitude regularly. The Huffington Post wrote an article called “The Neuroscience of Gratitude” which shares the following implications of gratitude:

  • production of dopamine and serotonin increases
  • it can be a natural antidepressant
  • the more these neural pathways are fired, the more automatic it becomes
  • encourages the search for constructive themes, rather than destructive ones

A study conducted in 2015 by four researchers created a four-condition experiment (stimulus, reflection, probe and rest) where participants read an excerpt telling of one of four phases of the Holocaust: 1. The rise of Nazism and Persecution, 2. Internment, 3. The Final Solution, 4. Final Months and Liberation. After reading the excerpt, they were instructed to reflect and feel, as much as possible, how it would feel to experience what they had just read, and create a deep, personal, realistic reaction. Then, they had to rate how much gratitude they felt on a scale from 1 to 4. A black screen would then be presented, as they were instructed to rest and release their mind of all thoughts for a 12-16 second period, acting as a baseline prior to the next phase. The four conditions of the experiment are shown in the figure below. The hypothesis? “That gratitude ratings would correlate with activity in brain regions associated with moral cognition, value judgment and theory of mind.”

Experiment Protocol

The results? “Ratings of gratitude correlated with brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, in support of our hypotheses. The results provide a window into the brain circuitry for moral cognition and positive emotion that accompanies the experience of benefitting from the goodwill of others.”

How awesome! When we feel grateful, we begin to elicit the positive emotion that comes from experiencing the benefit of a gift from someone. Even amidst tragedy and shortfall, simply “thinking” gratitude into existence will rewire the neural pathways to make it a habit for emotional well-being.

Here are four ways that you can practice gratitude:

  1. Write it down. On a daily basis, write down at least 5 things you are grateful for.
  2. Get into a routine of gratitude. You can have an accountability partner; you can write it every morning before you start your day; you can keep a list posted to be reminded daily. Whatever works for you.
  3. Meditate. You can do so sitting quietly or during your favorite exercise activity, such as yoga, pilates or even running.
  4. Surround yourself with people who share gratitude, too. These people might be family, co-workers or your church friends. Make sure you are not exposed to complaints every day. Be grateful and help others do the same.

Best Wishes,

Coral A.J. Gibson

Posted in Ketogenic Life

Children in Ketosis

Spending some time doing research tonight and fell upon this incredible article on MedMerits about utilizing the ketogenic diet in the treatment of epilepsy! And oh my goodness, my data-driven personality is overflowing with happiness! This one paragraph brings home the entire article:

“The insulin to glucagon ratio is one of the main determinants of the metabolic switch from glucose oxidation and fatty acid storage to the lipolysis and ketogenesis mode. High insulin to glucagon ratio will facilitate the former, whereas the opposite will enhance the latter.”

In Layman’s terms: Higher insulin and lower glucagon will promote using glucose for fuel and fat storage. Lower insulin and higher glucagon will promote using fat for fuel and the creation of ketone bodies! HOW INCREDIBLE IS THAT?!

Dr. Dominic D’Agostino teaches the ketogenic diet via TEDx

Now what truly got me to follow the clicks to this website was its discussion of ketone bodies as they apply to children. Children have a greater capability to extract and oxidize ketones (Persson et al 1972; Dodson et al 1976). Naturally, children are able to be in ketosis more readily or consistently than a pubescent teenager can be. Why is this? HORMONES! When hormones of all types (i.e. estrogen, cortisol, testosterone, etc.) change, your body is pulled away from homeostasis and recognizes stress in the body. This stress can induce a rise in insulin, which pulls the child (fine, pre-teen) away from the ketosis that was once the metabolic mode of choice.

Besides puberty or any other pre-existing health condition the child may experience, NUTRITION (or lack thereof) is pulling our world’s children out of ketosis, especially in the United States and other civilized countries. Stores are riddled with snack food full of unhealthy carbohydrates and sugar that parents allow their children to consume regularly. Sweet treats like ice cream, cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and all kinds of other sugar-laden foods are used by many parents and teachers as a reward for a job well done or as a barter to convince the child to do what was asked of them.

Increased glucose consumption->Increase insulin secretion->Increased childhood obesity

Now, this is WELL within our parameters of control.

Ketosis tends to be more difficult to induce in patients younger than 1 year old and older than 10 years old (Schwartz et al 1989b). This means what we feed our children between ages 1 and 10 is the MOST important metabolic time of their lives. If we teach children how to enjoy those yummy foods occasionally, they will have a healthy relationship with food. They will continue to consume ketone bodies as fuel, keeping their brains and bodies in optimal health. Integrating exogenous ketones (like the delicious orange and chocolate KETO//OS flavors!) into your child’s daily nutrition will help them EVEN MORE!

Nutritional ketosis cannot harm your child… because that’s how they operate naturally! Negative changes during their adolescence are what alter their metabolic success as they age.

I am not a doctor, and have no intent of telling you what to feed your child. However, I do know that excess sugar and inadequate nutrients in your child’s food may be the reason they are suffering with ADD, diabetes, epilepsy, obesity, among many others. So, next time you catch yourself risking your child’s health for the sake of a relationship you think might be hard to keep, please save the relationship for the sake of your child’s health.

Concerned for Their Future,

Coral J.