Can you truly protect (and grow) your brain? Yes.
Naturally? No scary drugs? Yup!
If you have any incidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease in your family, you are acutely aware that losing your brain function is beyond stressful to contemplate. The feeling is made worse if you’re caring for a loved one who doesn’t recognize you or remember your life together.
Observing a family member lose their memory or their personality, the “thing” that makes them who you know them to be, is sad and frightening, especially when there’s a known genetic component to the disease.
Maintaining a good memory, and the mental capacity you’ve enjoyed most of your life is worth putting a premium on.
If such diseases are in your family, can you really do anything to protect your brain?
What if you’ve already noticed a change in your memory, your ability to recall names or events?
Are you feeling stressed at work because your memory is failing and you’re afraid someone might notice, putting your job in jeopardy.
If you answered yes to any of the above you are not alone. I hear it from new patients on an almost daily basis. Sometimes they’re the “butt” of the family joke – “Mom doesn’t remember anything anymore.” “Dad doesn’t remember that we saw that movie just a few months ago.” Your kids may think it’s funny because they’re so much younger, but I’m telling you it isn’t normal and you don’t need to put up with it.
Interestingly, when I went to school, we were taught that the brain cells you had remained stable until about age 18 and then decreased with age. It was a bit of a sobering thought that one only had until age 18 before a mental decline began. Fortunately this data was flawed but it wasn’t until fairly recently, 1998, when we learned the truth. We now know we are replenishing our brain cells on a consistent basis; it’s called neurogenesis. The term neuroplasticity, on the other hand, refers to your brains’ ability to alter and adapt to our environment, through the building of connections between brain cells.
How well or poorly you are able to manufacture new brain cells and build connections between them is factually, in your complete control – now that’s exciting!
Do you feel your brain function and memory can be improved. Contact us for a FREE phone consultation – call 408-733-0400. The program is completely natural – no scary drugs or side effects.
You have a brain growth hormone that controls to what degree you make new brain cells and it is also protective to your brain. It’s called BDNF, or brain derived neurotrophic (neuro – refers to nerves, trophic – means growth) factor. The higher the levels of BDNF in your blood, the lower your risk of dementia.
What can you do to enhance brain cell production?
There are just a few things you need to do in order to enhance your levels of BDNF and thereby your brain cell production, and the best one is totally free.
Aerobic exercise – Regular, yes regular aerobic exercise, for about 20 minutes minimum, 5-6 times per week is all it takes to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 50%. Personally I’d like you to get a minimum of 30 minutes and up to an hour per day, but it’s nice to see that as little as 20 minutes gives your brain such protection. (JAMA Neurology 2014). Exercise is also known to benefit the next point, your microbiome or gut bacteria. [Research update: make that 45 minutes to an hour of moderate exercise for as many days of the week as possible.]
Healthy gut microbiome – We’ve known of the gut/brain connection for quite some time. The microbiome refers to the 100 trillion organisms in your gut that influence the body in numerous ways, not the least of which is protecting brain health. Having a nice diversity of organisms, or probiotics, in your gut, allows these trillions of organisms to produce nutrients required for a healthy brain, such as short-chain fatty acids. Poor levels of healthy organisms results in increased risk of degenerative diseases, including those of the brain and nervous system.
A study whereby rats were sterilized of any gut bacteria and then given probiotics to recolonize their guts, showed a definitive correlation which their BDNF levels. Those without gut bacteria had very low BDNF levels, but those healthy levels were restored once probiotics were given. Sources of gut “sterilization” include antibiotics, Splenda and other chemicals. If you’re wondering how you microbiome is doing, there’s a lab test we perform that can provide that information.
Anti-inflammatory supplements – substances such as turmeric and the fatty acid DHA, also increase your ability to make BDNF. We can determine through lab testing if your body is too pro-inflammatory and in need of a natural anti-inflammatory program.
Coffee fruit concentrate – This is an exciting use of the coffee berry, the actual fruit that contains the coffee bean from which the coffee beverage is produced. Just like a cherry has a stone or pit, the coffee fruit has a bean or seed. We know of the use of the bean, but here we are utilizing the fruit itself, which has a very low caffeine content. The fruit contains a substance (procyanidins), known to raise BDNF levels. The extract is now available on the market. You can put it in water, a morning smoothie, or even in a hot beverage.
Probiotics and prebiotics – Taking probiotics and eating foods rich in prebiotics including onions, leeks, artichokes, jicama and asparagus, to name a few, too increases your ability to produce BDNF. Foods high in fiber, generally speaking, are excellent to maintain a healthy gut microbiome, including most whole fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes.
Hormonal balance – imbalance of sex hormones, both in pre- and menopausal women, and in andropausal men, can absolutely affect brain and memory function. A simple blood test can evaluate if this is a problem for you.
Sunlight – the amount of sunshine we are exposed to influences our BDNF levels also.
I can think of few things more important than preserving and enhancing brain function. And on the flip side, I can think of nothing more devastating than losing one’s brain function.
Hopefully, the realization that this is more in your control than you may have thought, has brightened your day. Let’s use the tools available to us to help you retain and regain your optimal brain acuity.
We can get smarter as we get older – such good news!
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If your health is not where you want it to be and you’re confused about what to do, we can help. Contact us for a Free Consultation – Call (408) 733-0400.
If you are not local to us you can still receive help, our Destination Clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally.
We help the world’s busiest people regain, retain and reclaim their health, energy and resilience.
To reclaiming your best health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”
1.PLOS One, November 2012, “Serum BDNF Concentrations Show Strong Seasonal Variation and Correlations with the Amount of Ambient Sunlight.”
2.Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 401-408, 2014 “Acute Aerobic Exercise Increases Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Levels in Elderly with Alzheimer’s Disease”
3.JF Cryan, TG Dinan – Nature reviews neuroscience, 2012 – Nature.com. Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour
4.Neurochemistry International Volume 63, Issue 8, December 2013, Pages 756-764, “Prebiotic feeding elevates central brain derived neurotrophic factor…”