Take Care of Your Brain!
You only have one and it must last a lifetime…
Often I hear, “Rika, I don’t know why, but my memory is so bad. I cannot remember anything!” I will be frank; there are certain times when I can totally relate. I just finished working on a cookbook for brain health, so it really is fresh in mind. Memory, lack of focus, attention-deficit, short-term memory and cognitive slowdown all are of concerns once we get past the 30’s.
Physical injuries do play an important role.
I find that this is being dismissed way to often.
After any fall or big bump to the head, or if involved in a car accident, it is wise to consider chiropractic, osteopathic or craniosacral treatment. When the small bones and ligaments in the neck are injured slightly, or if the brain has sustained an ”earthquake” when we accidentally bump our head, it irritates our brain and this can affect moods, sleep and an ability to focus. The brain is sensitive and vulnerable. Any physical trauma induces inflammation, and the brain needs time to recover and heal. From a nutritional perspective, cod liver oil, fish oil, resveratrol, choline, hempseed oil, green tea extract and boswellia (an herbal anti-inflammatory) are helpful with brain injuries.
The brain needs fat – and a lot of it.
With any brain concerns, behavior issues, cognitive troubles, ADHD-like symptoms, neuro-Lyme, headaches and visual disturbances, it is important to consider your daily nutrition. Are you eating enough healthy fats and colorful veggies to feed the brain? Besides providing nutrients such as the B-vitamins, the brain also requires nutrients in berries and garlic or ginger that improve the microcirculation in the brain. It has an intricate blood supply, just like the heart, eye and kidneys.
Cholesterol is needed for the developing brain to ensure optimal brain development. When we increase with age, our brain needs more fat, too, esp. saturated fat that provides protection and repair of the myelin sheath that covers nerve cells. Excess free radicals from toxins damage the myelin sheath and chemical pollutants that we eat, breathe and inhale (this includes vapors from amalgam fillings). The brain needs healthy fats and oils to protect itself against premature aging, inflammation and infections. Cholesterol-containing foods have been given a bad wrap for many decades (and the most recent report from the American Heart Association is not helpful either in getting rid of this myth).
Top brain foods include a gamut of choices, but here is a top-12 list.
- Eggs, incl. the yolk
- Wild salmon
- Dark leafy greens
- Coconut oil and coconut milk
- Purple grapes
- Green tea
- Free-range liver (incl. chicken liver)
- Organic butter
- Gingko tea
The list shows a variety of foods that includes fats, oils, protein, vegetables and fruits. A variety of nutrients called polyphenols, carotenoids, and phytonutrients are prevalent in fruits and plants. These lower inflammation while also providing protection against naturally – occurring free radical damage to brain and nerve cells.
The Mouth-Brain Connection.
Our mouth also matters in regards to brain health. Think about how close your mouth is physically connected to your brain. Infections in gums or teeth have easy access into the brain (and heart). Metals can leach into the brain and this can play a contributing role with MS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Mercury damages and dissolves the myelin sheath of nerves. There is an informative video on YouTube about this, it is rather shocking to watch.
To protect your brain, take care of your teeth and gums with regular dental check-ups. Any hidden infection in the gums, teeth, root canals, or cavitations when teeth have been extracted, and periodontal disease can harm the brain. ‘Bad’ microbes can easily access the blood supply to the brain.
Any removal of amalgams requires a special approach to ensure that mercury is NOT drilled out of the tooth – that will leach into your brain and heart in a very quick time. Even though this is not discussed in conventional dentistry, the scientific literature fully supports this I had six amalgams removed but a holistic dentist. In hindsight, I would have added certain detox protocols to that and would have spaced out the removal over 6-8 months.
The EMF Factor.
Brain health is greatly affected by electromagnetic frequencies. It is a good idea not to use Bluetooth for phone calls, or charge your Ipad next to your bed, or to use your cell as an alarm next to your head. Some individuals have a real genetic sensitivity to EMF as can be seen in the genetic test, 23andMe (a favorite of mine). The microwave in the kitchen, TV in the bedroom, or cellphone kept in your pocket, all can adversely affect your health. Consider that the brain that is electrically wired with tons of electrically-charge nerve conduction and brain activity. Do add in a ‘techno-detox’ into your day and enjoy a good read on your beach chair or in the Park.
Sex Hormones Affect The Brain.
Sex hormone balance matters too. Low estrogen and low progesterone very much affect memory. Do get your hormones checked. I am aware that this is a controversial subject and it is my belief that every woman must decide what is best for her. Hormonal balancing options can include bio-identical hormones that must be monitored on an ongoing basis, or botanicals. Adrenal function is another factor in his mix, as these glands are supposed to pick up the slack with estrogen and progesterone once menopause kicks in. With ongoing stress, this innate compensation is inadequate and sex hormones will be more reduced. (This matters also with bone and heart health.)
Last, but not least, take care of your gut. Avoid processed foods, fried foods and excessive alcohol consumption that alter the immune function in our gut – and add on unwanted pounds. In summer months, eat fresh foods from the market, lighter unrefined oils and spend time in vitamin-D enhancing sunlight. Add fermented foods, cultured dairy (if tolerated) and enzyme-rich raw foods to your diet. Bitter foods thin the bile helping the body to detox. And then, off course, one can enjoy in the occasional martini or ice cream treat. A happy and healthy gut will facilitate happy moods and mental stamina.
Our brain is a master computer. It is there all the time even though we do not think about it.
Accumulative toxins with ongoing low-grade exposure, a lack of healthy fats and nutrients, and a lack of sleep result in premature aging, mental fatigue and cognitive decline.
Nourish the brain well by eating colorful foods and fats. Keep that phone away from the head, and engage in brainstorming activities with friends where you challenge your brain. Lower your stress; high cortisol will adversely affect your memory and blood sugar balance. Exercise regularly to get oxygen into the brain cells, and get enough sleep so the brain can detox during the night. Do avoid ‘stinkin thinkin’ and focus with gratitude on the good things in your life (and turn off the news!).
All in all, it is what we do every day that matters. Nourish your brain – you only have one!
Rika Keck, FDN-P, NY Integrated Health