More research is coming forth showing a very clear link between diet, lifestyle behaviours and brain health. How do we keep the brain young and healthy, support cell growth, repair & live a more conscious lifestyle with behaviours that support our long term wellbeing?
Dr. Hyla Cass, MD, Integrative Psychiatrist, Author of Natural Highs and Supplement Your Prescription states, “If the gut is inflamed, so is the brain! Many psychiatric issues are due to inflammation, so avoid inflammatory foods. Gluten and dairy tend to be the worst offenders. Don’t follow a low-fat diet. Make sure to get sufficient fats and protein. Avoid trans fats, but eat healthy fats like omega 3’s found in fatty fish, and medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil. These are known brain boosters. Avoid sugar and excess carbohydrates, as they can induce insulin resistance and brain inflammation. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is now known as Type 3 Diabetes.
Turmeric is one of the most remarkable neuro-protective and neuro-restorative agents yet identified. Not only does it mitigate a variety of heavy metal, toxin, and toxicant exposures, it also has been demonstrated to stimulate asymmetrical neural stem cell division, which results in a regenerative effect by producing new daughter cells that replace dysfunctional neurons.
“Research by Dr. Robert Sapolsky has proven that cortisol imbalance leads to brain atrophy. Cortisol is secreted when you’re under chronic stress. You can improve your brain health by practicing stress management on a daily basis with things like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or journaling, and get plenty of “Vitamin R” – Rest, Relaxation and Recreation.”
We know that a litre of blood goes through your brain every single minute that your heart is beating; it brings oxygen and nutrients to the cells and takes away waste products. Therefore it makes sense to flood the body with oxygen through exercise, eat clean and nutrient rich foods to nourish the cells and limit stress and toxic influences from the environment and food we eat.
Here are what the experts say:
- Add coconut oil to your diet. There is growing evidence that regular consumption of coconut oil may offer profound benefits in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. One of the primary fuels your brain uses is glucose. When your brain becomes insulin resistant, atrophy due to starvation can occur. But if you choose to limit sugar and eat healthy fats instead, ketones can feed your brain even BETTER than sugar and prevent wasting of brain tissue. Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat to energy. One of the best sources of ketone bodies are the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil.
- Limit sugar in your diet. Low-fat is the WRONG way to go because limiting fat in foods has caused the food industry to add sugar instead to preserve flavour. We are now finding that eating a diet high in sugar & fructose could be the most damaging thing you do to your heart & brain.
- Increase your Vitamin D. Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on Alzheimer’s through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer’s. Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity more than drugs! SO make sure you commit to a regular routine of exercise at least 30min 5X weekly. Running/Cardio and weight training that elevates your heart rate to zones 70-80% of your max HR for 20-30min are ideal.
- Take your high quality fish oil supplement. High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA helps by decreasing inflammation and preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression and lowering your risk of developing the disorder. I recommend Thorne Super EPA or Nordic Naturals ProOmega.
- Vitamin B12 – Useful to prevent brain shrinkage and may even treat Alzheimer’s and memory loss. As we age, we are less and less able to absorb adequate vitamin B12 from the diet. I suggest adding a sublingual or liquid B12 at least 1000mcg daily to your regimen.
- Include folate, B12 and folate work together to keep your brain and nervous system healthy.
- Avoid mercury and aluminium. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50% mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity. However you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Avoid aluminium, such as in antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, or in vaccines as preservative.
- Gingko biloba: Several studies have found that ginkgo biloba has positive effects for dementia, including improving cognitive performance and social functioning for those suffering from dementia. Ashwagandah (withania root) are also known to improve cognitive function.
- Eat your blues! Wild blueberries contain anthocyanin and other antioxidants known to guard against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
- Challenge your mind daily. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Avoid anticholinergic or statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers. Use of statins have been shown to correlate with increase risk of developing dementia.