Get your Brain in
and KEEP Your Brain in
Inspired by the Broken Brain series
I love this concept!!! How can you have this??? How can you have a thriving, resilient brain that can handle the ups and downs of life?
Are you having symptoms like migraines, headaches, brain fog, poor concentration, poor sleep, mood issues (anxiety, depression)? How can you help your kids if they are already showing signs of brain issues like developmental delays or spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, behavior problems and ADHD/ADD, immune system problems and food allergies? Yes all of these things can be the result of a brain issue.
But what if you just want to be more proactive so you and your children can hopefully head-off these kinds of issues and not be a part of these shocking, concerning statistics.
These topics are often on my mind, and last week Dr. Buchert and I got sucked into watching the Broken Brain series put together by Dr. Mark Hyman, a very well-known doctor who has been a real ambassador and leader in Functional Medicine. Watching this series was two-fold exciting: 1) because I love hearing all of the powerful stories of people regaining their health, and 2) because the great majority of what was discussed are things that we are already doing at Mint Health
Autism: 1 in 68, (boys are at greater risk than girls); 95% of these kids have gastrointestinal problems and 70% have immune system problems.
1 in 10 kids are on some kind of stimulant medication.
Dementia is present in 10% of people greater than 65, 25% of people greater than 75, and 50% of people 85 and older.
Having Type 2 Diabetes is associated with a 400% increased risk for dementia.
So what is it that causes the brain to break? i.e. get out of balance and/or start a slow decline. Its not just one thing! It’s the accumulation of many things that we always consider in Functional Medicine. Some of these things are: heavy metals and other environmental toxins, nutrient deficiencies, leaky gut, and high stress levels. All of these things set the forecast for the potential perfect storm in our body. Other possible contributing factors are things like infections, injuries, stress, and your genetics.
At Mint Health
, we routinely work with people who want to avoid following in the foot steps of other family members who, unfortunately, are falling (or have fallen) for a debilitating condition like Dementia, Parkinson’s, Muscular Sclerosis, etc. We also work with people who are already showing signs of a brain issue. Wherever you are, it is rarely too late to help improve your health situation!!
Below, we will share with you some of the ways you can optimize brain health; these are areas that we consider in our attempt to leave “no stone un-turned” when it comes to helping you to be your best you!!
Steps for a BRAIN in MINT condition:
1. Maximize Nutrition- THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!!
This can’t be put on the back burner! Fats are one of the most important nutrients for optimal brain health. Some examples of healthy fats are nuts, seeds, avocados, fatty low mercury fish (wild caught salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel), ghee, coconut oils and olive oils. It is important to be on a whole foods diet, eating low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, and having enough clean proteins; i.e. Paleo. If you already have a condition like Parkinson’s or dementia, being on a ketogenic diet can be helpful. Gluten and soy should be avoided in anyone worried about brain health.
Say no to sugar! This addictive food is literally killing so many of us. We start our kids off with sugar at such a young age and then complain that they are picky eaters and won’t eat spinach or salmon. Processed sugar should be a rarity in our diets. Americans are eating on average a ½ lb of sugar per day (HORRIBLE!!). We were not designed to eat this much sugar. It is bad for our body and leads to inflammation in the body and sets us up for heart disease and diabetes, dementia which is now being called Type 3 diabetes, along with a host of other conditions. Substituting sugar with an artificial sweetener is actually worse than real sug ar. The only artificial sweetener that we are ok with in moderation is Stevia.
2. EXERCISE!!! This also cannot be overstated. Listening to the Broken Brain documentaries and hearing again how unbelievably impactful exercise is literally inspired me to go out and run the rain on Saturday to get my exercise in; it rained ALL day on Saturday here in Baton Rouge. Exercise helps with insulin resistance and blood sugar control, helps you detox with sweating, helps reduce inflammation, helps with depression, with maintaining ideal weight, and helps with circulation (to the brain and extremities). Exercise has been shown to be more effective than prescription antidepressants, and of course doesn’t have the side effects of decreased libido and weight gain that so many of these types of prescriptions have.
3. Have health thoughts. I wrote about this a couple of months ago (see HERE
). Having negative thoughts releases negative chemicals. It also leads to more stress and inflammation with the body. Turn your thoughts to something positive! Start a gratitude journal and write in it daily. Identify negative thoughts and evaluate if it is really true; if it is not REALLY true, then correcting the negative thought and replacing it with a positive thought will help it not to come back. I promise you will feel better if you work on your negative thoughts!
4. Prayer, mediation, and relaxation should be a part of our daily lives. Having a sense of purpose and being a person who has learned how to relax are skills that contribute to a healthy brain and overall health.
5. Hang out with HEALTHY PEOPLE! Have healthy relationships with people who care about their physical body as well as care about their mental energy! We’ve all heard the phrase, you are what you eat. Well a similar thing happens when we hang out with people who are not healthy….. it rubs off on you and affects you.
6. Don’t be isolated! This is a risk factor for many illnesses and even shortened life expectancy.
7. Reduce toxic exposures as much as possible and make sure detox pathways have what is needed to work effectively. Most toxins are neurotoxins- i.e. chemicals that are toxic to our brains and nervous system. Detox if toxins are a problem in your system. You should be thinking about: toxins in food (see previous write-upHERE
), toxins that are in products that we use to clean our homes and our bodies, toxins in our furniture- mattresses, couches, carpets, etc, toxins that are in our water supply and air. We shouldn’t be using plastics or aluminum with our food and beverages; change to glass and stainless steel; silicon if you must. You can find information of safe, nontoxic products on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep
section. Alcohol is another toxin that should be minimized.
8. Make sure your mitochondria are healthy and happy! I will always talk about MITOCHONDRIA, because we cannot be healthy if our mitochondria are not healthy! These are the batteries of our cells that help us make energy. Toxins and nutrient deficiencies are the primary reason our mitochondria get strained. In Functional Medicine, we understand that mitochondrial dysfunction is the source of all disease. We can do lab testing that shows us if the mitochondria are strained or thriving!!
9. Healing the Gut! This is huge for helping the brain to be healthy. Did you know that your gut sends out many more messages each day than your brain sends out? Experts are now even calling the gut, our second brain. Your gut makes the majority of your neurotransmitters which help with things like mood, joy, motivation, and concentration. Up to 70% of our immune system depends on a healthy gut. Having a healthy gut is a lot dependent on having a robust variety of beneficial bugs that help us to break down foods and assimilate nutrients, etc. Our intestines are also very necessary for detoxing. We need healthy gut bugs in our intestine, and we need a lot of them, but this necessary ecosystem is all too often a puny mess as the result of all of the stress, toxins, antibiotics, etc that have insulted and assaulted it over time.
10. Awareness of whether your genetics make you more vulnerable, but know that your genes are not your destiny.
11. Sleep! Did you know your brain detoxes at night? You should make sure you don’t have sleep apnea, and make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
12. Hormone imbalances. All of our hormones affect brain health, but we give particular focus to our sex hormones (estrogens and testosterone- whether you are male or female) and to thyroid hormones. We have receptors for sex hormones and thyroid hormones in our brains, and healthy, optimized hormone levels are important for overall brain health. Evaluating and treating hormones is important to do with an experienced health care provider so that too much of a good thing doesn’t lead to other problems such as breast cancer risks, uterine cancer, etc.
13. Immune function. Having a competent and appropriate immune system is vital to living a healthy long life. Things like toxins and stress, gut imbalances and nutrient deficiencies are common reasons that our immune function can become compromised. Uncontrolled infections in the body are a complicated topic but some practitioners place a lot of weight on the fact that certain infections can be found in cancer cells and damaged brain cells. Having a strong immune system will help negate problems down the road.
14. Chronic inflammation! If this is a problem in your body, then finding the cause and quenching it is a must if you want to maintain a healthy brain. If chronic Inflammation is present, then you should know that it is taking its toll on your body whether you are aware of it or not. Sources of chronic inflammation can be from a slew of things from unhealthy foods, imbalances in the gut, toxic burdens (metals, pesticides, etc), infections, lack of exercise, poor sleep, and stress. Not all Inflammation is bad. Inflammation is a necessary process when the body needs to heal from injuries and to attack foreign invaders like infections, but when inflammation is turned on continuously for reasons such as food intolerances, this can cause a cascade effect of many other problems in the body.
My hope with sharing all of this information is that you realize there is SO MUCH that you can do to live a healthy, vibrant and full life! At Mint Health
, Dr. Buchert and I have the ability to do more comprehensive testing that looks at oxidative stress in the body, impaired detox, imbalanced gut, detailed hormone testing (stress hormones, sex hormones, and thyroid hormones), food allergy testing, and checking nutrient levels searching for deficiencies in macro nutrients like fats and proteins and micro nutrients like your vitamins and minerals.
Taking a functional medicine approach means we will use a systematic method to peel away the layers of what is going on with you so that incrementally you can get better and BE BETTER. Everything affects everything in our body.
For those of you that haven’t already started working with us in the Functional Medicine part of Mint Health
, I encourage you not to let years go by before you take the time to work on your health and get more in touch with your body. Are you ready to look at some of the behind-the-scenes issues that are keeping you from functioning at your best, and may even lead to a serious health situation in the future like Dementia or Parkinson’s??
If you are seeing us on the Ob/Gyn days (Tuesday/Thursday), and you want to take a deeper dive than we are able to do with conventional medical workups and recommendations, please click on the ” Get Started
” tab below to begin your life-changing journey into Functional Medicine (these appointments are on Mondays and Wednesdays and are longer, more in depth, and offer more thorough “lab” evaluations to help us figure out YOU!).
Take a look HERE
at what some of our patients have to say about Functional Medicine!
And if you have missed some of our previous write-ups, you can access these HERE
Garlic Cashew Cream From Brittany
- 1 C raw cashews (best if soaked in water for at least 1 hr)
- 1/2 C water (up to 3/4 depending on desired thickness)
- squeeze half lemon
- dash of onion salt
- 2 tsp minced garlic or 1 fresh garlic clove
Blen d in high speed blender until well combined.
This is a great cream base to top on cauliflower, etc or to use as dip.
You can play around with nutritional yeast for a cheesier flavor, or dill and parsley for more of a ranch-style dip.