What are risk factors for brain disease and brain aging?
Genes: Between 15 and 20 percent of the population carry one or two Apo E4 Genes which significantly increases their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But it is important to know that the potentially negative influence of Genes can be balanced through various preventative strategies.
Oxidative Stress: Free radicals are harmful to brain cells. Eating a high caloric diet, the wrong fats (rancid fats, an overabundance of Omega-6 fatty acids, Trans-fatty acids), smoking, xenobiotics (chemicals, heavy metals) all increase free radicals in the body.
Heavy Metals: Mercury and other heavy metals are neurotoxic as they block various enzymes and act as potent free radical generators. Heavy Metal Detoxification
Chemicals: Pesticides, fungicides, solvents, plastics and other petrochemicals accumulate in fatty tissues. The brain, which consists 60% of fat, is one of their main targets.
Head trauma: The victims of traumatic brain injury often suffer lifelong cognitive and functional symptoms like memory loss, deficient language skills and mood alterations. Even sports like football, soccer (headers), boxing or martial arts can cause subtle head traumas.
Chronic Infections: The health status of the body is linked to that of the brain (“mens sana in corpore sano”). Chronic infections with viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites cause an increase in inflammatory cytokines that negatively impact the brain.
10 steps to a healthy brain
1. Eat brain healthy foods: Lean, organic proteins, low glycemic index carbohydrates, lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, omega-3 fatty acids (fish and flaxseed oil). Avoid fish that is high in mercury.
2. Take brain nutrients: Fish oil, Acetyl-L Carnitine, CoQ 10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Phosphatidyl Serine and Choline, Ginko and antioxidants.
3. Exercise regularly: Weight training and aerobics about three times a week trigger the release of growth factors which increases the number of synaptic connections. This protects the brain and results in better memory and a reduced Alzheimer’s risk.
4. Sleep: In a world of 24-7-hyperstimulation we need time to let go. Most people require about 8 hours of sleep to rest and regenerate the brain.
5. Cleanse and Detoxify: If you have a high level of heavy metals consider chelation therapy. Chemicals that are stored in fat cells can be detoxified through aerobic exercise and a liver cleanse.
6. Are you lacking Hormones? The adrenal hormones DHEA and Pregnenolone and the sex hormones Estrogen and Testosterone all have receptors in the brain and influence memory, mood and aging. Whether you should replace hormones depends on your individual situation symptoms and lab values.
7. Are you deficient in Neurotransmitters? The body creates neurotransmitters from various amino acids. A low protein diet or digestive enzyme deficiency can result in a low neurotransmitter status. You might need to change your diet or supplement with amino acids.
8. Learn a Relaxation Method: Stress kills brain cells, especially in the memory centers. Regular relaxation, meditation or contemplation have countless brain benefits like increased blood flow, better energy utilization and a balanced hormone and neurotransmitter production. The result is a better life quality, less ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts), better cognition, emotional balance and a reduced Alzheimer’s risk. 10 to 15 minutes every day is all that is needed.
9. Go Alpha: Biofeedback and various methods of Audio-Visual Entrainment teach the brain how to access deeper states of health and recuperation. Alpha waves go along with a sense of equanimity and peace, reduced anxiety, a better academic performance and even boost the immune system. Theta waves are associated with memory improvement and creative ideas. Delta waves are observed in deep sleep.
10. Keep learning: Remember, the brain is a muscle and mental exercise is crucial for making new brain connections. Learn new things, develop your hobbies, play music and pursue what is stimulating and challenging. Live a fulfilling life.
The Brain is the most amazing structure in the known universe...
.... although it only weighs about three pounds and consists of 60% fat, it contains 100 Billion nerve cells ). As each cell has up to 40000 connections, there are about 1000 Trillion total connections in the brain, more than there are stars in the universe.
The brain influences our health, wellbeing and functioning like no other organ. When we consider that every second person at the age of 85 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, it becomes obvious that brain health is a top priority. But the prevention of neuro-degenratuve disease is often neglected. Not until symptoms like memory loss, irritability, insomnia, paralysis, tremors or dementia appear is the health of the nervous system taken into account. Treating Brain problems early is essential and prevention is the best medicine.
Are you at Risk?
Any of the following factors may increase your risk of brain disease:
- A family member with dementia or Parkinson’s disease
- A personal history of heart disease, stroke, head injury, sleep apnea or diabetes
- The Apo E4 gene, a genetic risk factor
- Exercising less than twice per week
- Alcohol abuse
Until recently scientists assumed that brain cells steadily decline and cannot be replaced or renewed. Now we know that the brain can build new synapses and even have the potential for neurogenesis, the creation of new brain cells. Not unlike training a muscle, we can train the brain.
Neurotransmitter testing shows imbalances in inhibitory (Serotonin, Gaba) and excitatory (Dopamin, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine) neurotransmitters. Balanced Neurotransmitters are not only important for cognitive and emotional issues like ADD, depression, anxiety and food cravings but also offer a exciting treatment modality for a variety of physical problems like fatigue, insomnia, PMS, headaches and weight control.