Posts filed under ‘Traumatic Brain Injury’

Nutrition for Brain Health (3rd in a series)

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

Factors in Brain Degeneration (2nd of a series)

This is the second article in my series on traumatic brain injury (T.B.I.).

In this article I want to discuss what is needed to protect your brain from neural degeneration resulting in all sorts of things from mild memory issues to brain fog to Parkinson’s disease to severe Alzheimer’s disease.

It is first important to understand the role of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in brain development and structure. You are probably aware of the terminology “omega-3” and “omega-6.”

Omega-6 fats are what could best be described as warm weather oils. These include: corn, soy, sunflower, safflower and canola oils. Canola is particularly bad because it is an over processed, non-food oil. It has been processed to make it “food grade,” but in the processing it becomes loaded with trans-fats and toxic chemicals.

Omega-3 oils are found in very few of our modern foods. Sources include: liver, cold-water fish (think herring, cod and salmon), fish oil, organic meats, organic, range-free egg yolks and (in much lesser amounts) flax oils, whole grains, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. Many of these foods are no longer part of the Standard American Diet (SAD) due to the mistaken and harmful recommendations of the American Heart Association. How many of us have reduced our intake of eggs due to cholesterol concerns? A recommendation that has now been found to be totally unwarranted. And organ meat? Heaven forfend!

During pregnancy and infancy, brain development and architecture is dependent upon adequate amounts of omega-3 EFAs. I read a book some years ago, Smart Fats, that pointed out that with the ubiquity of fast foods like McDonald’s french fries, we are actually changing the architecture of our children’s brains. An omega-6 derivative is being substituted for DHA (the omega-3 component); this is a key difference between human and chimpanzee brains. Why do I mention brain development? Because our brain cells have the same needs throughout our lives to maintain both structural integrity and cognitive function.

A very important article regarding the development of our brains is found on PubMed. It’s title “Evolutionary Aspects of Diet: the Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio and the Brain.” The author points out that during the Paleolithic period (40,000 years ago), human beings developed eating a diet that had a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids of about 1:1. Today, with our overuse of warm weather oils our diets now have a ratio of between 10:1 to as much as 20 or 25:1.

However, even more importantly, our genes have not changed in that relatively short period of time. So we have altered our nutrition without regard for what our bodies are genetically equipped to handle. We still don’t know what all of the consequences will be, but some of them are now coming to the surface in the guise of chronic degenerative diseases like senile dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinsonism.

Another important function of EFAs in our diet is their function in the production of tissue hormones, called prostaglandins. This is why they are called “essential.” To clarify, we now need to make a short excursion into biochemistry. I promise to make it as painless as possible!

The two major groups of these hormones are PGe1 and PGe2. PGe1 is anti-inflammatory and is made from omega-3 precursors. PGe2 is pro-inflammatory and is made from omega-6 precursors. As previously stated, the problem we currently have is that due to our food production practices, we now have far too much omega-6 and almost no omega-3 in our diet.

PGe1 has the following positive actions:

  • Helps remove excess fluids and sodium from the body
  • Improves circulation
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Improves nerve function (including brain cells, resulting in improved cognitive function; reduce the risk of depression and other central nervous system disorders)
  • Boosts the immune system by causing the death of cancer cells
  • Regulates calcium metabolism (important in muscular contraction, including the heart)
  • Increases protein synthesis in muscle cells
  • Elevates levels of intramuscular glutamine
  • Increases growth hormone secretion
  • Makes insulin work more effectively

By contrast, PGe2 increases inflammation and interferes with the normal cell membrane structure. Trans-fats are also implicated in decreasing the elasticity of the cell membranes and increasing the incidence of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Trans-fats should be avoided at all costs. One easy switch is to remember organic butter is healthier than margarine, a non-food.

I have already enumerated the best food sources of omega-3 oils, particularly cold-water fish. One word of warning, however, because much of the fish we consume is now farm raised (particularly salmon), their flesh lacks high levels of omega-3 oil. In the fisheries, they are fed corn meal, resulting in a replacement of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 with omega-6 oils.

The same is true of much of the meat we consume. Feedlots use corn to fatten the steers for slaughter. In the wild, grazing animals have a ratio of 1:1 omega-3 to omega-6 in their flesh. I recommend that you only consume organic, grass-fed beef or buffalo. The advantage to buffalo is that they cannot be raised on feedlots, so you know that their EFA ratios are what they should be.

Let’s now tie all of this back to chronic neurodegenerative diseases. A short summary of the primary culprits follows:

  1. The proliferation in the brain of destructive chemicals called free radicals.
  • Therefore, you need to maximize your intake of anti-oxidants that protect the brain.
  • You also need to protect your brain from oxidative stress; a primary source of this damage is excessive exercise.
  • Free radicals also promote inflammation, which results in the death of brain cells. This is in addition to the inflammatory effect of PGe2.
  • The rapid increase in the American diet of chemicals that are actually neurotoxic. Examples include: aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and Splenda. Nearly all prepared foods contain some form of MSG as a flavor enhancer, even foods purchased at the health food store. Some common synonyms include: hydrolyzed protein, textured protein and yeast extract. (The article referenced above contains a more exhaustive list.)
  1. Many drugs also compromise brain function. They include: Tylenol (which depletes glutathione, an essential anti-oxidant in the brain that protects brain cells) and anti-cholesterol drugs (which have been shown to cause permanent memory loss.
  2. The decline in the ability of the brain cells to make energy (ATP).
  • Since diabetics have difficulty metabolizing glucose (the primary fuel for the brain), they lack the ability to create ATP from burning glucose.
  • The result: the brain cells suffer from this lack of energy, which is why Alzheimer’s is sometimes called Type 3 diabetes.

So, what should you do? I will answer that question in detail in my next article. For right now, let me recommend that you have a test to determine your personal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in your red blood cells. I have a lab test available for only $70.00 (which is much less than other labs) that can give you your personal ratio. Then, you will know how many and how drastic may be the changes you need to make to your diet and supplement program. This is particularly important if you are experiencing memory loss or the resting tremor commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease. Another indicator that you should seriously consider taking this test is if you are having balance or coordination problems. Just give me a call and I can arrange to have the test done for you.

December 31, 2015 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

Traumatic Brain Injury and Its Aftermaths – Dementia, Parkinson’s and Encephalopathy

This is the first in a series of articles. I recently attended a conference on Brain Injury and Neurodegeneration taught by Dr. Dan Murphy. Much of his information is extremely relevant to what is happening in America today, especially with regard to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. So watch this space for additional articles.

The first topic I would like to address is brain injury. That may seem like it doesn’t apply to you, but rest assured brain injury is ubiquitous in America today. Typical sources of trauma include:

  1. Sports injuries – whether with a concussion or without. Some of the sports with the highest incidence of brain trauma include football and soccer.
  2. Car accidents with whiplash injuries. In the U.S., these are the primary cause of traumatic brain injury. {Amen, Daniel MD, Making a Good Brain Great, Harmony Books, 2005, p. 28}
  3. Clear-cut accidents where you bump your head – either from a fall, on a kitchen cabinet or on the car door. The kind of injury most of us just brush off.

The reason I took the class is that I had a serious concussion about 20 years ago and am now experiencing some effects from it.

So, first of all, what causes traumatic brain injury? Remember, the brain is very soft, gelatinous tissue housed in a very hard skull. When you experience a blow to the head, or a whiplash type event, your brain slams “against the walls, ridges and sharp bony edges in the skull, ripping small blood vessels, causing multiple minute bleeds and over time many areas of tiny scars.” {Ibid. p. 25}

Furthermore, brain injuries are additive. A person may not initially have symptoms when they injure a certain part of the brain, because the brain has built-in reserves. “The next brain injury, even if it seems minor, may wipe out the reserves, causing major problems.” {Ibid. pp 25-26} Therefore, it is important to build your nutrient reserves to protect your brain. I will cover that topic in my next article.

According to the Rand Corporation, the top four degenerative diseases that will bankrupt the U.S. health care system are dementia, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. They all have a common denominator – INFLAMMATION! Watch this space for further discussion of how you need to change your lifestyle and your nutrient intake to reverse the adverse effects of the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).

Additionally, a very important tool to affect brain function is chiropractic adjustments.  A recent in-depth study of the effects of chiropractic adjustment validates the effect adjusting has 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}.  There have been a variety of studies from Winsor (1921) through Korr (1979) that have claimed that compromised spinal function causes increased sympathetic tone, which is linked to immune system dysfunction, pain, vascular compromise with subsequent additional neurological dysfunction and reduced systemic health. This study, using the most advanced technology currently available, supports this model. What can we deduce from this? Regular chiropractic adjustments maintain the flexibility of the spine, reduce pain and inflammation – including in the brain. The overall result: improved mental and organ function and improved quality of life.

December 5, 2015 at 1:51 am Leave a comment


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