COULD HUMANS BE MORE INTELLIGENT?
FADI ABU ZUHRI
Modern educational institutions have imposed an extraordinary importance on scientific learning to improve intelligence. In the search for higher intelligence this paper focuses on alternative methods such as Nutrition, Intermittent Fasting (IF), Meditation and Cold Showers. These have been found to influence human intelligence as well as overall well-being.
What you eat is 85% of being well, while exercising accounts for only 15% of your health (Berg, 2017). Our aim should not be only to lose weight; rather it should be to stay healthy in order to lose weight. It is a popular saying that what you are is what you eat. In this section, the focus is on certain kind of foods and their impact on the human body.
One key area of health is digestion, in which nutrients are taken in and processed, and excretion, where waste is taken out of the body. People should eat food that is easy to digest, in order to promote better assimilation. If the digestion process is not healthy, the results are poor health and disease (iHealthTube.com, 2018).
Ketogenic Diet (KD) regimen is a diet containing low-carbohydrates, medium-protein and high-fat content. It is argued that maintenance of KD induces, as well as sustains, the body’s ketonic state. It reduces the levels of glucose in the body without leading to malnutrition or caloric restrictions (Zupec-Kania & Spellman, 2009).
A Ketosis Diet constitutes 170-200 gm (3-6 Oz) of fat, medium protein, and 7-10 cups (almost 7-10 Oz) of vegetables with no sugar and no processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, biscuits, cereals, crackers, etc.), and is advocated to help fight cancer and other chronic diseases. Carbohydrates should be minimized to about 50 grams. Not to mention that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is strictly out of the diet, just as plastic is not to be eaten by Humans. Berg (2017) emphasises that carbohydrates should be minimized and replaced with healthy fats and moderate protein. Berg (2018) points out that the body recycles its own tissues and so the body does not lose them, but conserves them. The body does not store protein as it stores other nutrients,thus the requirement for protein in the body is less (Berg, 2018).
It has been suggested that ketosis (key-tow-sis) may influence human intelligence. It mimics starvation by putting the body in the ketosis metabolic state. Normally, the human body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar or glucose. This glucose is then transported by the liver, used as energy by the body, or stored in the muscle tissue and liver as glycogen. When the body is deprived of carbohydrates, the only source of glucose supply for body organs comes from the liver. The brain is a greedy organ accounting for about 20 percent of the energy produced by the body. It cannot directly utilize fat for energy, rather it requires it to be converted into ketone to provide energy for normal brain cell metabolism. Ketone supplies increase the number of energy factories or mitochondria in the brain cells. Accordingly, a Ketogenic Diet works to directly inhibit the key source of neuronal stress. Reactive oxygen species are a cellular metabolism by-product. These oxidants are highly reactive because they contain a single electron. They wreck by denaturing proteins. Increased oxidants are the causes of neurodegeneration, stroke and aging. Ketones (that regulate normal cell function) play an important role of enhancing the breakdown of these molecules and inhibiting their production by increasing glutathione peroxidase activity. The low carbohydrate intake also works against the oxidation of glucose. The high fat nature of KD increases the Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) such as Eicosa Pentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosa Hexaenoic Acid (DHA), which are both over-the-counter medications promoted as healthy supplements for the brain. The increase in PUFAs works to minimize inflammation and the production of the oxidant.
Several clinical and animal experimental studies have shown that KDs may enhance cognitive functioning of an individual (Xu et al., 2010; Appelberg et al., 2009). For example, Appelberg et al. (2009) demonstrated that KDs could improve the cognitive recovery and motor coordination in rats with traumatic brain injury. In another study, Xu et al. (2010) demonstrated that KDs enhance memory and pro-cognitive functioning of young rats and normal, health and aged rats.
In a similar study involving mice with Alzheimer’ Disease (AD), KDs were shown to attenuate the accumulation and production of cytotoxic Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) products that were associated with the AD (Van, Wera, Van Leuven, & Henderson, 2005). KDs have also been shown to reduce the loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord and delay the onset of the loss of motor coordination (Zhao et al., 2006). Tai et al. (2008) also demonstrated that KDs could minimize the generation of seizure activity and neuronal cell death in experiment models of cerebral ischemia and stroke.
Anecdotal evidence have also shown that children with behavioural or development problems, treated using KD, show better cognitive functioning, improve behaviour and show increased alertness (Pulsifer et al., 2001; Nordli et al., 2001). Farasat et al. (2006) also demonstrated a therapeutic synergism between KD and social behavioural support, suggesting that emotional neurological pathways may play a crucial role in the efficacy of KD.
The Warburg Effect cited by Van Derschelden (2016) demonstrated that health cells can use ketone bodies as sources of energy from proteins. Van Derschelden (2016) also explained how patients with severe metastatic skeletal cancer who were given a maximum of three months to live, used KD to reverse the progression of cancer (Van Derschelden, 2016). Dr. Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1931 for his work on respiratory enzyme, in particular how cancer cells live on sugar (Nobelprize.org, 2014). In other words, restricting sugar in the diet might kill cancer cells.
Breast cancer cells have six times more insulin receptors than normal breast tissues. Cancer lives on glucose and thus, people who have breast cancer would benefit from a Keto Diet to cut off cancer. They could try to avoid sugary foods to keep the insulin low (Berg E., 2018).
Berg (2018) points out that the Keto Diet consists of three meals a day and intermittent fasting includes two meals and for some people, it is just one meal per day. The calories reduction does not go down at a certain rate, but they have their own rate of change, because when people reduce the frequency of eating, they start retaining more nutrients. When doing keto and intermittent fasting, people could try to keep carbohydrates at 20 grams per day (Berg E. 2018). Carbohydrates from vegetables are not counted. Berg (2017) also recommended certain supplements for those on KD and Intermittent Fasting, namely Minerals (Potassium, Magnesium, Sodium, & Calcium), and Vitamins (A, B1, B3, B5, D and K2).
The marine-based omega 3 (not vegetarian source) reduces the size of tumors by 60 to 70 percent and the numbers of tumors by 30 percent. Removing sugar from the diet only slows down the rate of cancer progression. Some little physical exercises every day could reduce the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease by 4% (iHealthTube.com, 2018).
Cortisol (the stress hormone) is a glucocorticoid hormone that is vital for the life of human beings. High cortisol increases the risk of disease and premature death. For one to lower the cortisol levels, he or she can meditate, correct electrolyte deficiencies, and supplement their brain with phosphatidylserine (Walker, 2018).
A high cholesterol diet has been linked to cancer. High cholesterol levels make the intestinal cells divide more quickly enabling tumors to form in the colon a hundred times faster than normal.
Fatty liver is a serious disease and linked to both alcohol consumption and non-alcohol reasons, such as a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. Better nutrition is seen as a good preventive measure followed by limiting alcohol, managing cholesterol and reducing sugar intake (Natural Cures, 2018).
Are carbohydrates really a bad thing to be avoided? Most Asian diets are high on carbohydrates. A recent research claimed that women who intake low carbohydrates are 30% more likely to give birth to babies with defects of spine and brain (iHealthTube.com, 2018; Desrosiers, Siega-Riz, Mosley, & Meyer, 2018). The study was flawed on several counts (Harcombe, 2018). One cannot stress enough the importance of various lifestyle factors, ethnicity, gender and even health condition when deciding to go off carbohydrates. Perhaps balanced diet is what we really need. The diet that works for you today may not be good enough later in life. One always needs to adjust dietary needs based on where you are in your life’s journey. It is equally important to be aware of your personal health by regular check ups that could include blood, hormone and organ health.
Intermittent Fasting starves the brain of glucose, demanding the conversion of fat into ketones by the body. It challenges the brain by imposing caloric restrictions. This forces the human body to switch to the optional fat stores and convert them into ketones.
Previously, Intermittent Fasting was largely associated with weight loss. However, recent studies have shown that this type of regime can potentially improve learning capability and memory, as well as reduce the risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases (Varady, & Hellerstein, 2007). It is observed that fasting, which translates to caloric restrictions, helps kick-start body protective measures. These measures counteract the uncontrolled excitation signals and facilitate the healthy functioning of the brain. It was further revealed that fasting induces beneficial neurochemical changes in the brain and brings several benefits.
First, fasting challenges the brain by restricting calories. The brain induces the production of stress response pathways in response to this challenge. These pathways enable the brain to cope with disease risk and stress. The changes occurring in one’s brain during fasting often mimics those changes that occur during regular exercising, as both increase the production of neurotrophic factors, notably utilizing protein in the brain. In return, these neurotrophic factors facilitate the connection between neurones, their growth, and enhance the strength of brain synapses. Varady and Hellerstein (2007) explained what happens in the brain during Intermitted Fasting noting that the cognitive challenge induced by intermitted fasting activates neuron-circuits and increase the levels of neurotrophic factors that promote the strengthening and formation of synapses and growth of neurons.
Secondly, Intermitted Fasting is thought to stimulate stem cells to produce new nerve cells in the hippocampus (Wu, 2014). Long periods of fasting, by patients undergoing chemotherapy, lower white blood cell count. It flips the regenerative switch inducing changes in the signal pathways in hematopoietic stem cells. It also promotes the regeneration of stem cells on the hematopoietic system (Wu, 2014). According to Wu (2014), fasting stimulates ketones production, which is a source of energy for neurons. It also causes increased number of mitochondria in nerve cells and neurons, which adapt the stress introduced by intermitted fasting. The increase in the number of mitochondria within the neurons helps increase their ability to create and maintain connections with each other (Varady & Hellerstein, 2007).
Fasting has been associated with the chemical in the brain called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is known to play a role in improving the overall cognitive functioning of the brain and in promoting the development and growth of nerve cells. It is indicated that during fasting the human body obtained energy from fat cells rather than from glucose, in order to stimulate its activities and the growth of brain cells. It converts fat stores into ketones and uses the ketones to stimulate BDNF production and to optimize memory building, learning and cognition (Varady & Hellerstein, 2007). This explains why individuals who fast tend to be alert and have an active part of the brain that is responsible for memory and fasting. Prolonged fasting is also known to regenerate the immune system and to protect against the damaging of the immune system (Varady, & Hellerstein, 2007). Intermittent Fasting diets have also been shown to improve memory and learning abilities (Young, 2017).
In summary, it has been suggested that combining intermittent fasting and limiting carbohydrates intake is a proven strategy to reduce risk of all chronic diseases, including cancer.
Meditation is the approach to mind training in the same way physical fitness is the approach to body training. Meditation can involve daily mindful meditation, concentration meditation and moving meditation techniques. Concentration meditation entails focusing the mind on a single point or refocusing one’s awareness on a selected object of attention. Mindful meditation involves an individual observing thoughts as they wonder and drift through the mind. It is aimed at helping an individual to see how one’s feelings and thoughts move in certain patterns. Additionally, daily meditation practice involves a person cultivating compassion. Meditation has been linked to a number of benefits including less stress, deeper relaxation, feeling of well-being, less anxiety, lower heart rate, slower respiratory rate, less perspiration, lower blood pressure and improved blood circulation (Nidich et al. 2009; Rainforth et al., 2007; Anderson et al., 2008).
Meditation has often been associated with Spiritual Intelligence (SI). There are a number of things that happen when one meditates: meditation increases neurogenesis which increases the number of brain cells; it allows people to form more intimacy with their food; meditation slows down the body; it helps humans to let go circumstances and people that no longer serve them; it makes people stop judging themselves and accept themselves; it improves humans’ memory; it enables mankind to give up stress; it improves the cardiovascular health and boosts the immune system; it makes people stop blaming themselves; and finally helps people to stop living in the past and focus on the future (Smart, 2016).
Meditation has been linked to human intelligence in several ways: enhancing Emotional Intelligence (EQ), increasing brain size, boosting memory, facilitating the working together of both brain hemispheres. Evidence further suggests that meditation improves human intelligence by creating a perfect condition for intellectual learning and growth in six different ways.
Firstly, meditation balances the right and left-brain by synchronizing the two hemispheres of the brain. In this way, it allows greater processing capability and faster neural communication. By making the creative right brain and the logical left-brain work in harmony, meditation makes it easy for an individual to solve problems, think deeply, magnify the focus and concentration and think more creatively. Brain synchronization has consistently been associated with successful individuals (Nidich et al. 2009; Rainforth et al., 2007).
Secondly, meditation increases the size of the brain by increasing the thickness of an individual’s neural “gray matter” in sections of the brain. This means that meditation makes an individual’s brain to think faster and smarter in the way exercising helps the muscles to become more enduring, denser and stronger. Accordingly, meditation has been pegged as the leading enhancer of the brain and that it can potentially increase levels of intelligence (Gard, et al., 2014).
Thirdly, meditation is reported to facilitate the development of very beneficial brainwave patterns. It is argued that meditation guides one’s brainwaves into beneficial frequencies, notably theta, delta and alpha. It is also associated with other benefits, including powerful idea generation, super creativity, overall intellectual capacity, and enhanced cognitive functioning. It is suggested that meditation is the easiest and best way for accessing these super beneficial states of the mind and that these states can transform an individual’s life in many different ways, including increasing intellectual quotient (Paul-Labrador et al., 2006).
Meditation is known to be an intuition and insight booster, and is believed to be critical to improve human abilities. It is also argued that this inner intelligence can be derived from listening and developing one’s inner voice. Alstott et al. (2009) argued that though this form of intelligence cannot be gauged with tests and quizzes, it is highly useful on all levels, as it stimulates creativity, insight, natural understanding and helps one to see beyond the identified five senses of experience.
Meditation is believed to improve Intelligence Quotient (IQ) by improving short-term and long-term memory. It is noteworthy that these two types of memory constitute the key component of IQ and intelligence. According to Anicha et al. (2012), meditation significantly increases the activity of the frontal brain lobe and the hippocampus, which are part of the brain responsible for memory. By stimulating these vital parts of the brain, meditation helps increase the capacity of short-term and long-term memory making it to be easier for one to undertake daily life, job and schoolwork.
Meditation is known to advance one’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ). According to Brewer et al. (2012) many people do not subject their emotions to reasoning and reasonably address them. Instead, outside circumstances hold people as prisoners. Colzato et al., (2006) emphasized that regular meditation gives an individual EQ enabling him or her to listen and tune into one’s feelings and work through them in a sober and calm manner. EQ also enables an individual to read the emotional clues of others and respond appropriately (Nidich et al. 2009; Rainforth et al., 2007). It has also been shown that meditation techniques combined with cold water therapy might be helpful to build and rebuild the nervous system.
Conte (2018) argues that the best way to meditate is to sit up by keeping the spine straight. While in this position, one has to close his or her eyes. The next thing to do is to focus on breathing by inhaling through the nose, holding it briefly and exhaling through the mouth.
According to Conte (2018), the brain can be strengthened by meditation, thus fighting fright response (anxiety) be minimized. People should allow thoughts while they are meditating. Just a few minutes of meditation allow the brain to focus on the present rather than the past (Conte, 2018). Conte (2018) also described how important it is to deal with anger. Anger itself is not the issue, rather it is an indication of deep seated pains, which if not treated, could lead to a continual cycle of losing temper.
Would it surprise you to know that a simple thing such as bathing in cold water could not only boost your immune system, but also make you more intelligent? Cold showers have been found to improve blood circulation, reduce depression, burn fat, improve sleep, improve fertility in men and lead to better emotional resilience.
A cold shower stimulates the brain’s blue spot that can help lower the chances of being depressed according to the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine (Shevchuk, 2008). A cold shower helps to burn fat in the body. It also helps to improve the sleep of an individual. People across cultures switched to bathing in cold water, as it has been found to improve blood circulation and even fertility. A study by the University of California found that cold showers improve emotional resilience and immunity while aiding in recovery (Freeman, Johnson, Staudenmaier, & Zisser, 2015).
It is often said knowledge is power. Well, not really. Not unless you use knowledge effectively. This paper brings together a wealth of alternative therapies that show how easily anyone can not only boost their intelligence, but also improve overall health.
There are other approaches to healing worth mentioning here for those who want to delve deeper. The major ones worth mentioning are: Reiki (Usui, 2000), Paidalajin (Xiao, 2013) and Chiropractic (Palmer, 1910). Additionally, Martel (2014) has listed five steps to healing, namely: knowledge, openness, letting go, acceptance and action. He also goes on to explain why two people following the same therapy do not show similar results. Martel (2014) explains that the difference is due to behaviours and attitudes, and the understanding that we ourselves are the key to our healing. Not being aware of inner conflicts and fears is a major impediment to holistic health. Martel (2011) has a comprehensive dictionary of ailments and diseases and their psychological significance. Notably, he associated cancer with suppressed emotion, deep resentment, a difficult divorce, loss of job, loss of a loved one, desperation and deep resentment.
As a final note, not all human body types are the same (Berg, 2017). We even have different brain types (Andrian, 2015). What is actually working for you, might not work for someone else. We need to search our inner selves to know who we really are. This is the secret to happiness and a better quality of life.
Happiness would not be less, whenever cancer test is negative.
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