Nutrition for Brain Health (3rd in a series)

February 28, 2016 at 9:05 pm Leave a comment

This is the promised third article in my neuro-degeneration series. I will attempt to summarize what nutrients are most effective in preserving brain function.

One of the most important antioxidants for brain health is glutathione. It actually protects against brain cell death. The two primary nutrients from which the body makes glutathione are n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) or undenatured whey protein. If you are dairy sensitive, NAC is obviously the best choice. Another important point about glutathione is that Tylenol depletes it. So, it is important to avoid any product containing acetaminophen (generic Tylenol).

Further dietary and lifestyle changes include: no aspartame, no hydrogenated oils (or other sources of trans-fats, like canola oil), reduce your intake of warm weather oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, peanut and soy oils). You can also take pure sesame seed oil capsules to prevent the conversion of these oils into pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Take the following basic nutrients:

  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Antioxidants

Minimize your intake of refined carbohydrates; think deserts, sugary drinks, bread, pasta, white potatoes and white rice. You can substitute brown rice and quinoa pasta for regular pasta; brown rice for white rice; and sweet potatoes for white potatoes. Another choice to lower your carbohydrate intake is riced cauliflower. It is quite bland and works well with sauces and gravies.

You also want to rebuild your brain nutrient reserves. The best way to do it is to:

  • Take omega-3 oils, as much as 10 gm/day for 4 months. Then, reduce the level to 2500 mg per day for maintenance. However, it isn’t wise to take this much without a doctor’s supervision. I would advise a red blood cell fatty acid ratio test to determine your need for omega-3 oils and to monitor your progress. As I mentioned in the prior article, I have access to a lab where the test is only $70.
  • Make sure to keep your antioxidant intake high to protect the fats in your body from going rancid. Remember: Your brain is almost exclusively fat.
  • Avoid cheap over-the-counter oils, as they may contain mercury and carcinogens. Also, many of them are processed with heat and are, therefore, hydrogenated, even if it doesn’t say so on the label.
  • Do NOT eat farmed (Atlantic) salmon, ever. Wild salmon is OK; as much as 6 nights per week.
  • Avoid tuna, swordfish, shark and other large, predatory fish. The toxins in the ocean are more concentrated the higher up the food chain you go.

The following section is specific nutrients that cover these areas (NOTE: all dosages are for adults. If you need children’s doses, please contact me):

  • N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC): 240 mg per day or
  • Un-denatured whey protein: 21 grams per day (usually 3 scoops)
  • To protect your mitochondria:
    1. CoQ10, a minimum of 10 mg per day, although I find 200 mg or more is a better choice. Personally, I take 600 mg daily and have done so for years.
    2. Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) has been shown to both protect mitochondria and to help them multiply. Damaged or decreased numbers of mitochondria are a key factor in aging.
    3. Acetyl-l-carnitine, 680 mg per day
    4. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), 240 mg per day. Food sources of ALA include organ meats and dark green leafy veggies, as well as high quality flax seed oil or freshly ground flax seed. Preground flax seed goes rancid too fast. ALA also increases insulin sensitivity in diabetics and inhibits tumor growth. Extra benefits!
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are important to brain health, as well as being anti-inflammatory. A red blood cell fatty acid test will tell us how much you need to take.
  • A good complete B-complex. I favor High Performance Stress Relief, which is an all-natural, low potency, highly absorbable B-complex. The dose for the average individual is 1 with each meal.
  • Vitamin D3. Nearly everyone I have tested is deficient in this critical vitamin, which acts more like a hormone. I generally prescribe 2,000 to 5,000 IUs per day. In some instances, I give 10,000; but, in that case we need to monitor the blood concentration with periodic blood tests.
  • Resveratrol is a powerful anti-oxidant that preserves the length of the telomeres in cellular reproduction, slowing the aging process. I have two products containing resveratrol: HerbaVital from Medi-Herb (3 per day) and Reseravert-HP from BIotics, (1 per day). I prefer the Medi-Herb product, because resveratrol has a maximum dose daily of 240 mg. Higher doses can be counterproductive.
  • Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory effects. 1500 to 3000 mg per day are very helpful. I have an excellent product, or you can take 1 tablespoon in coconut milk for absorption. I tried it, but I don’t find it palatable. The capsules are much more doable.

Finally, with regard to lifestyle, the following recommendations are important:

  • Regular spinal adjustments. As I pointed out in the first article in this series, spinal adjusting has a very positive impact on brain function. {Ogura, T, et al, Division of Cyclotron Nuclear Medicine, Tohoku University (Graduate School of Medicine), Sendai Japan, published in Alternative Therapies Health Medicine Nov-Dec 2011; Vol 17; No. 6; pp.12-17}.
  • Low-level laser therapy to the brain. I have such a laser and have been using it on my head injury, with good results.
  • Walking (30 minutes per day)
  • Other exercise in moderation that you enjoy: yoga, swimming, biking, dancing, etc.
  • Puzzles (crossword or Sudoku) that engage the brain. I start each day with this to get my brain going.
  • Piano playing. One 30 minute lesson per week, with practice 30 minutes per day. This is much better for our brains than our addiction to electronic devices.
  • Minimize or avoid television watching.

If you want to add any of the items in this article to your brain health protocol, please let me know so that I may order what you need. I also highly recommend the fatty acid test (obviously, since I’ve mentioned it multiple times!). Knowing your ratios can tell us how seriously your brain function is at risk. If you already have early symptoms – memory loss, tremor, coordination problems – it becomes even more important that you get tested, so that we can reverse the process.

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Entry filed under: Dementia, Parkinson's Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury. Tags: , , , .

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