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Going With the Flow...

Flow states.


Many talk about them, many teach about them. Which is good, because I’m sure that many people are able to glean goodness from such teachings — myself included!


Mostly the conversation focuses solely on brain function. On how brain function can be hacked to stay in the zone. Or on certain things to avoid; certain habits to drop.


All helpful tips, but are they being overemphasized?


Maybe. The thing is, the brain doesn’t act in isolation. It impacts the state of the rest of the body and vice versa. In humans, we have the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary axis), the vagus nerve, the GBA (gut-brain axis), etc. We have countless big pathways and countless little pathways, intricacies and ‘cross-talking’ that ties it all together on a certain level.


All this exists to connect the body to itself. So, while highlighting brain function is great and all — perhaps even great enough to help along everything downstream of it — optimization is inherently a multifaceted, multistream act.


Optimization must be viewed holistically when we try to apply it to something as complex, as us.


Part of this holistic puzzle has been ignored, much to the detriment of the whole. The part? Metabolic optimization. Flow states will likely be hard to replicate, and thus hard to repeat, if metabolism is never acknowledged.


Why? Because metabolism is what fuels the chemical signalling that allows the brain to flow. Specifically, to flow unhindered. You can have the best intentions, the most effective hacks, and the highest motivation, and still miss optimal brain function. If you’ve experienced this more than you’d like, something else might going on. Have you considered what’s fueling your intentions? Like, literally fueling them?


The brain loves to burn fat for fuel. And, contrary to the pseudoscience that sometimes accompanies no-carb paradigms and paleo diet adherents, the brain needs carbs too. It needs glucose. But its preference is to derive a large proportion of its {enormous} energy needs from fat. Especially those of the omega 3 & 6 varieties.


Omega 3’s, like fish oil… or better yet, like fish itself! The brain does best when fully myelinated {insulated, if you will} and fueled by a steady stream of PUFA’s. They’re called essential fatty acids for a reason. And these essential fatty acids actually help ensure that the brain utilizes essential amounts of glucose for fuel, too.


Also, try to add in more CLA and ALA. These fats are also critical to brain function, and are found in things like grass fed butter,pastured eggs and walnuts. Basically, in natural protein+fat sources. Incorporate these into your diet and you’ll go far in correcting the omega 3:6 imbalances that are so damaging to brain health.


3:6 imbalances? Yes…this is another important topic. If you subscribe to

conventional eating paradigms, you likely have way too many omega 6 PUFA’s in your system. Canola oil is loaded with omega 6 fats, and the standard american diet is loaded with canola oil.


While omega 6 is essential too, the ratio instated by our modern diet is way, way off.


To counterbalance requires a near complete shift to the omega 3 side of things.

The science behind this ratio’s importance can be complex. But basically excess omega 6’s > upregulated prostaglandin production > chronic inflammation > gut health breakdown > leptin insensitivity in the hypothalamus. And leptin resistance is a really bad thing.


The details aren’t that important to nail down — unless you want to, of course.


Sufficient to focus on action steps for now. The practical application is that eating seafood should be just as integral to your flow state routine as meditation or mindfulness.


Set the optimal substrates {foods!} on autopilot, and see if the daily productivity levels you aspire to get any more attainable. They almost always do. By dialing in your food choices, you just might be removing a rate-limiting factor — dialing in your ability to focus in the process.


Brain fuel sets the precedent and foundation for brain function. Not the other way around.


The brain is powered firstly by substrates obtained from the body it controls through bidirectional pathways that both control. The feedback produced from said pathways is inextricably linked.


Trying to get around this biochemical reality is akin to paddling upstream. With continual reliance on inputs like coffee, green tea, nootropics, etc, you might still get there. You might still reach that blessed state of flow. And if you can still do it, good for you! It’ll just be overly taxing, at least in the long run.


Thankfully, though, there’s no reason to try too hard. Your brain wants to be optimal.


It wants to perform for you, to think critically, to reassess quickly, to adapt itself to retain efficiency over the environment.


Such evolution-driven traits are still your friend. That is, if you position them in the right context to thrive. Try adding in some omega 3’s and sunlight exposure alongside your brain hacks and caffeinated drinks, and you’ll likely be one step closer.


One step closer to optimal — that’s an optimal place to be.





Written way back by Thomas Wrona, a Copywriter and Living Systems Consultant

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@ 2o20  By Thomas WronA