Monday, January 28, 2013

Medicine for the Mind

Medicine for the Mind
How to beat the Blues, stay focused and keep your mind sharp at any age.

Does our brain really shrink when we’re pregnant?  Is it an inevitable sign of aging that we get cloudy thinking and memory loss?  If your grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease does that mean you’re most likely going to get it too?  Is it normal to feel sad and anxious on a fairly regular basis?

The good news is that with proper nutrition and supplementation most, if not all of our brains ‘hiccups’ can be corrected.

1.       Regulate Blood sugar Levels

Hypoglycemia can cause aggression, brain fog, lower intelligence and decreased concentration.  Worse of all, almost everyone one of us, especially our children start the day in just this state.  Sugary cereals, toast and jam and coffee, are all stimulants that give us an initial boost followed by a crash.

The Solution: Chose complex carbohydrates and balance every meal with protein and fat.   Complex carbohydrate release glucose in a slower rate than processed sugary carbs but even they turn into glucose fairly quickly in your blood stream; so, add almond butter to your whole grain toast instead of jam, oatmeal with nuts and seeds or eggs instead of are all great ways to start the day.  Skip store bought fruit juice as it’s full of sugars, both natural and not, and consider juicing your own vegetables and fruits. *

2.       Lubricate the gears

Low brain fat levels are associated with depression, dyslexia, distractibility, ADD, fatigue, schizophrenia, memory problems and even emotional instability.  60% of the dry weight of the brain is fat, and in our fat phobic society, the chances that you’re getting all you need without proper supplementation are slim to none.  Fact is, your brain really does shrink when you’re pregnant, at least, if you’re fat deficient.  The baby will take what it needs from where ever it can get it, so shrinking your brain to get the fats it needs to build its own neuronal connections.

The Solution: Eat nuts and seeds, supplement with a good quality fish oil and stop being so afraid of fats.  Unfortunately, due to our current state of ocean affairs, you will be unable to obtain sufficient quantities of fish oil from diet alone – there’s just too much contamination to make it safe.    Phospholipids are our intelligence fats, used for both structure and function and this is what’s most likely robbed from moms’ minds by their babes. Ever notice that wild animals eat the brains and organs of their pray?  That’s the best place to get these vital fats, but if organ eating turns your stomach, consider adding lecithin granules to your diet, eggs, or a supplement with brain friendly phospholipids such as phosphotidylchoine, serine and or DMAE.

3.       Protein is Brain Power

Lack of motivation, anxiety, depression, inability to relax, poor memory and concentration are all associated with amino acid deficiency.  Amino acids make up neurotransmitters, the signals used to allow the brain to ‘talk’ to itself and the rest of the body.

Depression and anxiety are never caused by a Prozac deficiency, but they may be due to a serotonin or GABA one.  A nick name for ADD is adrenaline deficiency disorder, as many kids with this affliction have been shown to have low levels of adrenaline and / or dopamine in the frontal cortex of the brain. 

The Solutions: Eat a wide variety of proteins to ensure you’re getting all the essential amino acids, and make sure you’re getting enough.  The average person needs a minimum of 50g of protein a day, that equivalent to 5 eggs, or 9 cups of brown rice at a minimum.  A typical day for a man might be 1 egg for breakfast (10g), a 200 g salmon steak for lunch (40g) and a serving of beans with dinner (20g).  A vegetarian might have a small tub of yogurt and a heaping tablespoon of seeds on an oat based cereal (20g), with 1 cup quinoa (20g) with vegetables for lunch and beans and rice for dinner (20g).

4.       Minimize the Metals

Mercury exposure caused the mad hatter in Alice in wonderland to go crazy.  Even low levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, copper and aluminum can affect concentration, IQ, mood, cause aggressive outbursts, fussiness about food, headaches, sinus problems, confusion, anxiety, insomnia and other neurological problems.

The solution: Ensure adequate mineralization to block the binding of metals and consider having a hair mineral analysis to see your body’s mineral status and how good it is at detoxifying.

5.       Avoid Brain Pollutants –Alcohol, Oxidants and Stress

Alcohol consumed at higher levels than your liver can detoxify cause harm to your brain.  It dissolves those oh so pressure fats, specifically DHA and replaces it with a poor substitute, DPA.  Furthermore, it blocks the conversion of fat to prostaglandins, hormone like substances that are involved in numerous functions from regulating blood pressure to neurotransmitter production.  It also causes leeching of many vitamins including your B’s, probably why you get that hangover.

Oxidants are the equivalent to rust in your system.  They damage DNA, fats, mitochondria, speed up the aging process and impair function overall.  Fried foods, smoking and pollution are f 3 of the body’s main oxidants.

Stress:   Parts of your brain cells actually shrivel up when exposed to high levels of stress hormone leading to decreased memory and learning ability.

The Solution:  Once you notice your gait getting wobbly and speech slurring from alcohol, back off, your liver has reached its capacity.  Increase levels of antioxidants such as dark berries and fruits and consider an antioxidant if you’re over the age of 40.  Watch out for fried food and ensure adequate nutrition to help the body detoxify and most importantly of all, find ways to de-stress.

6.       Brain Nutrients

a.       B Vitamins: help turn glucose into fuel for the brain, improve memory, help you deal with stress, regulate hormones, curb depression and are necessary in the methylation process, which plays a vital role in genetic expression, neurotransmitter formation, memory and detoxification. 

b.      Vitamin C: Balances neurotransmitters, reduced depression and schizophrenia symptoms, aids memory, supports the immune system and is a weak heavy metal chelator.

c.       Maximize minerals:  Calcium and Magnesium deficiency can lead to nervousness, irritability, aggression, insomnia, addiction and depression.  Zinc followed by magnesium are the two most depleted nutrients in people today, due to increased need, low intake and poor absorption.  Zinc deficiency is associated with depression, anxiety, anorexia, delinquency, hyperactivity and autism.  Poor mineralization decreases the body’s ability to detoxify successfully increasing body burden of heavy metals and neurotoxins.  This combination of low minerals and high toxins can cause havoc to numerous body function but definitely compromising intellectual performance and emotional stability.

Listen to your body and trust in the healing power within, when given the right tool your body will enable you to live beyond what is ‘normal’ now.

By Dr. Debbie Smrz

As well as being clinic director and Naturopathic doctor at NatLiving, Dr. Debbie teaching optimum nutrition for the mind at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.

*We love juicing so much we’ve started selling juicers right here.  Call us to find out more.