Preparing the Brain for Battle
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Summary: The brain is the organ and instrument of the mind, and controls the whole body. In order for the other parts of the system to be healthy, the brain must be healthy. And in order for the brain to be healthy, the blood must be pure. If by correct habits of eating and drinking the blood is kept pure, the brain will be properly nourished (1MCP, 60.1).
 
 

As a first responder, I’ve attended many emergency situations, including car wrecks, submerged vehicles and house fires. Our team of firefighters and emergency medical technicians prepare to meet all kinds of emergencies so we know what to do and can respond quickly when we arrive on the scene. Being prepared can mean the difference between life and death.

In a similar way, our brains face a battle situation and all kinds of emergencies everyday. We need to prepare for that. What resources do we need to be knowledgeable about and use to fight this battle?

Fuel

The first thing we’ll look at is fuel. What is the fuel you’re putting in your brain?

The brain is the organ and instrument of the mind, and controls the whole body. In order for the other parts of the system to be healthy, the brain must be healthy. And in order for the brain to be healthy, the blood must be pure. If by correct habits of eating and drinking the blood is kept pure, the brain will be properly nourished (1MCP, 60.1).

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31

The Bible addresses what we should eat. You can’t afford to put the wrong fuel into your body because it will affect your brain. It will affect your discernment with God.

Our brain doesn’t ever rest. It is always on and it requires premium fuel. Twinkies and doughnuts do not qualify as premium fuel. You might say, “I’m a plant-based vegan.” Plant-based can do Fruit Loops and Oreos. But they’re not whole foods.

In the South, there was always dessert for dinner and for supper, sometimes even for breakfast. Grandmothers were the best pie makers, the best cake makers. We ate so much dessert when I was a kid. It was just part of our lifestyle. But refined foods cause inflammation, which is a huge problem these days. And studies have shown that a diet high in refined sugars leads to impaired brain function.

Several years ago my dad came to stay with me for about six months. Dad had cardiac issues. I helped him get on a healthy lifestyle program and after six months he was off pretty much all his cardiac prescriptions. When he saw his cardiologist, the doctor asked him why he wasn’t taking his meds. Dad said, “I’m doing a lot better. My son, he does lifestyle and I found I don’t need those cardiac meds.” The cardiologist looked at him and said, “Mr. Cross, this office does not deal in lifestyle.” But our lifestyle choices – what we eat, how much we sleep, whether we exercise or not – play a very significant role in our physical and mental well-being.

Think of those big, old steam engines. What would happen if the fireman didn’t put coal in the hopper, but put toilet paper or newspapers instead? The fuel that you put in you determines how well you run. What’s the difference between “empty calories” and “nutrient-dense food”? It makes a huge difference which you put in.

A lady came to me who was 400 pounds. She had diabetes, some cardiac issues and she wanted to lose weight. So I encouraged her to do juicing and to take 16 ounces at breakfast, dinner and supper. But I wasn’t sure that would be enough for her. So I said, “If you need another glassful, go ahead.” She came in the next day and said, “Walt, do I have to drink all three of those?” I said, “No. You can drink two if you want to, at breakfast and dinner and that could be it.” The next day she came in and said, “That works!”

Why did it work for her? The juice was nutrient-dense. It wasn’t empty calories, like what’s in Fruit Loops, doughnuts, pizza, chips and soft drinks.

Here’s good fuel for the brain:

● Avocadoes – maybe the best brain food

● Beets

● Blueberries

● Broccoli

● Celery

● Green, leafy vegetables

● Rosemary

● Turmeric

● Potatoes

● Asparagus

● Walnuts

Exercise

The World Health Organization (WHO) is asking every physician in the world to prescribe exercise because they could save four million lives per year. And exercise is important to brain health, too.

Psychology Today reports that physical activity is the best medicine to maintain brain health over your lifetime. And it comes with no side effects and no expense. Exercise improves the structure, function and connectivity of your brain. It increases blood flow, encourages growth of new neurons and brings nourishment to the brain.

People who regularly perform aerobic exercise have higher scores on neuropsychological tests that measure functions such as attention, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, working memory, declarative memory, spatial memory and information processing speed.1

Have you ever tried to think of something and you just can’t remember it? Your brain’s a little slow in processing. Try exercise to increase that processing speed.

Adequate Hydration

The brain is sensitive to dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, it’s more difficult to keep your attention focused; short term memory and long-term memory recall are also impaired. Even mild dehydration may affect your mood, energy levels and your ability to concentrate. As little as a 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory and cause you trouble with basic math.

Adequate hydration is important because there must be enough water available to carry vital elements, oxygen and hormones to all parts of the body, including the brain. Water in the blood is the train car that carries nutrients to the body.

We’ve got to have enough water. It’s critical. We should be drinking around eight glasses (two litres or quarts) a day.

Sunlight

Here’s a problem for people in the northern hemisphere: It’s harder to get enough sunlight exposure on the skin to produce enough vitamin D.

In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D expert Michael Holick said, “Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic. The major cause of vitamin D deficiency is the lack of appreciation that sun exposure in moderation is the major source of vitamin D for most humans.”2

Were people created to work in offices or factories or sit inside and play computer games? God created human beings to work outside. Being outside all day gives you enough vitamin D.

A lady came to me to find out what foods were high in calcium because she had to avoid them. She had high blood calcium. I looked at her lab results and saw her vitamin D level was 7. Why was her calcium high? She didn’t have enough vitamin D to pull it out of the blood and put it in the bone.

A University of Manchester study found that people with lower vitamin D levels had slower cognitive processing speed. Vitamin D deficiencies increase the brain’s degenerative processes also. And studies have found that those deficient in vitamin D are more likely to have cognitive impairment. People wonder why they can’t think clearly. Vitamin D deficiency is a major health concern.

If you don’t know your vitamin D level, go get it checked. Plenty of physicians say that it needs to be at least 50 ng/ml to do the minimum and many doctors want to see levels of between 80 and 100 ng/ml. Find out what your vitamin D is. It’s very important for brain function.

Sunlight is also important for serotonin production. Serotonin helps regulate mood and social behaviour, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and depression. Symptoms of serotonin deficiency include poor memory, low mood, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, anxiety and aggression.

As the sunlight comes into your eyes, it stimulates the pineal gland to convert the tryptophan from the flax seed you ate at breakfast into serotonin. You need flax seed. You need sunshine to come into your eyes. A lot of people always wear sunglasses when they’re outside. That’s going to mess this conversion process up.

There’s a country in Africa whose army got Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). They had implemented a new uniform policy, requiring personnel to wear sunglasses. When they realized what had happened, they took the sunglasses away and the soldiers didn’t have SAD anymore.

Temperance

Temperance goes beyond saying no to alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Other things like music and media also affect brain function.

My dad once tried to figure out how to get more milk out of the cows and he experimented with music. When Dad played Elvis, we got less milk. The cows didn’t do too well on country music, either. What worked the best was elevator music – classical music. It calmed the cows and we got more milk. Music can make a difference in how well your brain works.

Be careful what you watch on TV. Gaming also has a huge effect on how the brain works. I encourage you to look at Scott Ritsema’s work. Social media is affecting so many of our youth and adults with depression and lowered brain function.

Epigenetics is the study of how our behaviours affect our genetic expression. What we eat, where we live, how we react, when we sleep, if we exercise can trigger changes in our DNA that can turn genes on or off.

Epigenetics has identified those eight laws of health that we have been talking about in Adventism for so long. The bottom line is, we need to make wise lifestyle decisions because these decisions can affect our DNA.

People say, “I’m genetically predisposed to this disease. My mother had it, my grandmother had it, and now I have it. There’s nothing I can do about it.” There is something you can do. Do what they weren’t doing. Don’t do what they were doing.

It is a law of the mind that it gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is trained to dwell (PP, 596.2).

Adequate Oxygen

Air pollution negatively affects brain health. It increases brain inflammation and slows nerve conduction speed. Air pollution reduces the ability of the brain to plan and remember. It also increases behavioural problems and crime rates.

Adequate oxygen improves the brain’s ability to function, gives clarity to the mind, improves concentration, improves the ability to learn, promotes restful sleep and produces a sense of well-being by increasing serotonin levels. It’s important to breathe deeply of clean, fresh air.

Rest

When we’re tired, our brain works harder and accomplishes less. It’s more difficult to strain out the unimportant information from what needs our attention.

It’s important to get seven hours of sleep each night, but no more than nine hours because more than nine hours of sleep is linked to earlier death. Aside from needed rest, sleep provides the brain with time to sort and store information in long-term memory.

If we don’t get enough sleep we can’t deal with Satan’s distractions as well. With adequate sleep, it’s easier to make better decisions and resist temptations.

Trust in God

There’s a move in the US to display signs that say, “In God We Trust.” It’s in schools, on police cars and fire trucks. But most importantly, it needs to be written in our hearts. Do you trust God?

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Prayer will give the sick an abiding confidence; and many times if their cases are borne to the Great Physician in humble trust, it will do far more for them than all the drugs that can be administered (CH, 324.1).

If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. Exodus 15:26

God’s promise here is conditional. If you do these four things, He will not put these diseases on you. The eight laws of health are referred to in the “statutes.”

There are controllables and non-controllables. Things you can’t control include stressors. Give your stress to God. Tell Him, “God, I can’t handle this. Will you please take it?” Then when Satan comes to you tempting you to stress over something, you can say, “That’s not mine.”

The things that you can control, take God’s hand and do them. Give the non-controllables to God and leave them with Him. Trust Him. This is huge. So many sicknesses are a result of worrying over non-controllables. It doesn’t mean you quit praying about them. But you quit trying to control the outcome.

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. Daniel 12:1

There’s a war between God and Satan. Are you ready for that war? Are you ready right now to deal with today’s challenges, much less what’s about to come? You’ve got to get ready. We need to have our names written in Christ’s book.

For those who are looking for the coming of the Lord, for those who are called to be laborers in His vineyard—for all who are fitting themselves for a place in the everlasting kingdom—how important that the brain be clear, and the body as free as possible from disease (MS 59, 1890).

If you want to work for God and be strong enough to handle temptations, you need your brain to be healthy and working efficiently. Apply these eight laws of health that God has given us. Science has proven them. They’re powerful.


1. Erickson KI, Hillman CH, Kramer AF (August 2015). “Physical activity, brain, and cognition.” Current Opinion in Behavioural Sciences, 4:27-32.

2. Holick Michael F, Chen Tai C (April 2008) “Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 87, Issue 4, April 2008, Pages 1080S–1086S, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/87.4.1080S, retrieved March 2, 2020.

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