Brain Health


Dr. Perlmutter states that:

  • If you regularly use any over-the-counter or prescription medication, you could be putting your brain at risk.  Dozens of these drugs, including antacids, birth control pills, non-aspirin pain relievers, and cholesterol-lowering medication, can starve your brain of important nutrients that keep it functioning at an optimal level and protect against brain aging.
  • If you don’t routinely read food labels to screen out bad “brain-busting” ingredients, chances are you are consuming foods that make your brain sluggish and slow down your reaction time.
  • If you drink unfiltered tap water, spray insecticides in your home or garden, or use underarm deodorant or dandruff shampoo, you may be exposing your brain to toxins that will age it faster.
  • If you are “stressed out” on the job or at home, your brain is being constantly bathed in stress hormones that can destroy its memory center and “dumb you down.”
  • That’s the bad news.  The good news is that brain degeneration is not inevitable.  You can stop it, reverse it, and recover what you have lost.  You just need to remove the toxins and supply the right raw materials. If you are under stress, let me help you with Neuro-Emotional Technique and natural anti-anxiety herbs and minerals without toxic side effects that harm the brain. 

    Dr. Perlmutter also has 3 tiers of treatment for brain health.  Tier 1 – Prevention and Maintenance for those with few risk factors.  Tier 2 – Prevention, Repair, and Enhancement for those who are at moderate risk.  Tier3 – Recovery and Enhancement for those who may already be experiencing a noticeable decline in mental ability.  To determine which tier you fit in you need to take his Brain Audit.  It consists of over 50 yes/no questions.  I have it available at the office if you who would like to take his assessment.

    In Chapter 4, Dr. Perlmutter states, “ARE YOU TAKING birth control pills?  Do you pop antacids every time you feel a twinge in your tummy?  Are you taking an antidepressant?  Are you using a drug to lower your cholesterol?  Do you take acetaminophen everyday for arthritis?  If you are using one or more prescription or over-the-counter drugs, you could be putting the health of your brain at risk….Drug-induced nutrient depletion can hurt any organ system, but I am primarily concerned about drugs that can harm the brain.”

    I will be discussing the connection between drugs, nutrient depletion and lifestyle and what we can do to help our brain health.  The next email will address:

    The Roles of Co-Q10 and Glutathione in Brain Health.

    Co-Q10

    Co-Q10 is made by every cell in the body but is particularly important for the brain.  It is fat-soluble; therefore it can get into the fatty brain cell membranes and protect them against free radical attack.  It is also an energizing antioxidant because it is essential for the production of ATP, the fuel used by cells, including the brain, to do work.  If you don’t have enough Co-Q10 in your brain, cells cannot function effectively or efficiently.  The less you have available, the slower your response time, and the worse your memory will be.  Most people need more Co-Q10, not less!

    As we age the production of CoQ10 declines thus loss of energy and loss of memory.  If you are in Tier 1, Dr. Perlmutter recommends 30 milligrams per day, Tier 2, 60 milligrams daily and Tier 3, 200 milligrams daily. 

    Here is a list of drugs that can deplete Co-Q10. 

    Antidepressants: Elavil, Norpramin, Sinequan, Tofranil, Aventil, Pamelor, Viviactil.

    Antipsychotic Drugs: Haldol

    Blood Pressure-lowering drugs: Temormin, Zebeta, Catapres, Acldactazide, Capozide, Combipres, Diazide, HydroDIURIL, Hyzaar, Lopresor-HCT, Lotensin HCT, Maxide, Microzide, Moduretic, Prinzide, Vasaretic, Zestoretic, Corgard, Lopressor, Toprol, Visken, Ideral

    Cholesterol-lowering drugs: Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Pravachol, Zocor

    Antidiabetic Drugs: Glucotrol, DiaBeta, Glynase, Micronase, Tolinase

    If you are taking any of these drugs, you need to take additional Co-Q10.  Tier 1 gets bumped from 30 mg to 90 mg per day, Tier 2 goes from 60 mg to 120 mg per day, and Tier 3 goes from 200 mg to 300 mg per day.

    Normal

    Tier 1 - 30 mg in the am

    Tier 2 - 30 mg in the am and 30 mg in the pm

    Tier 3 – 100 mg in the am and 100 mg in the pm

    If you take any of the above Co-Q10 lowering drugs

    Tier 1 – 60 mg in the am and 30 in the pm

    Tier 2 – 60 mg in the am and 60 in the pm

    Tier 3 – 200 in the am and 100 in the pm

    Metagenics has some great Co-Q10 products.  They come in 30 mg and 100 mg capsules and in a Nanonized liquid.  The liquid is great.  It is more bio-available and is less expensive.  1 teaspoon (80 mg) supplies the equivalent of taking 120 mg in the capsule form.  I have both forms in stock.

    Glutathione

    Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant like Co-Q10, which helps rid the body of free radicals.  Everyday we are exposed to thousands of toxins, in the air we breathe, in the food we eat, in the drugs we take, and in other chemicals we ingest or use in our homes.  It’s the liver’s job, along with glutathione, to render these toxins harmless.  Without adequate levels of glutathione, the liver cannot function properly, and the result will be a buildup of toxins throughout the body and in the brain.  Unfortunately this can cause degeneration of brain tissue.  Low levels of glutathione are also associated with chronic illness and premature death. 

    Glutathione is not well absorbed when taken orally, however there are a few supplements that can raise glutathione levels including N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), Natural Yeast Flakes, and un-denatured whey protein.

    The following drugs deplete glutathione in the body and therefore should be reduced and/or more glutathione raising supplements should be taken:  Acetaminophen, Panadol, Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Aspirin Free Anacin, and any cold medicine containing acetaminophen and/or codeine.  Special note: Avoid drinking alcohol when you take acetaminophen.  Alcohol also depletes the liver of glutathione, and the combination can be deadly.

    Solution

    Avoid using these drugs daily.  If you are routinely taking a glutathione-depleting drug more than twice a week, take an extra supplement to boost glutathione. 

    Tier 1 – No NAC supplement necessary unless taking a glutathione-depleting drug, then you should take 400 mg or 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes or 2 scoops of BioPure Protein in a drink in the am.

    Tier 2 – 400 mg of NAC daily and/or 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes or 2 scoops of BioPure Protein in a drink in the am.  If on glutathione-depleting drug, take the above twice a day, once in the am and once in the pm.

    Tier 3 – 800 mg of NAC daily or 4 tablespoons of yeast flakes and 4 scoops of BioPure Protein.  If on glutathione-depleting drug, take an additional 400 mg of NAC daily and/or 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes or 2 scoops of BioPure Protein in a drink in the pm.

    B Vitamins and Brain Health

    If you are worried about preserving your brain function, you need to take note: medical research now clearly links poor performance on mental function tests to elevated homocysteine levels.  Having too much of this amino acid floating around your bloodstream can cost you IQ points!  B vitamins are your best protection against elevated homocysteine.  A wide range of drugs can interfere with the metabolism of some of your B vitamins, which can result in elevated homocysteine levels.  Complications or side effects of elevated homocysteine are increased risk of mood disorders, poor mental performance, vascular dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and even certain types of cancer.  Drugs to watch out for include: aspirin, Celebrex, NSAIDs, estrogen drugs, asthma drugs, blood pressure lowering drugs, diuretics, steroids, cholesterol lowering drugs, anticonvulsants, antidiabetic drugs, antibiotics, acid suppressors (like Nexium, Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac, Previcid, Axid, and Prolosec) and even Parkinson’s drugs like Sinemet (carbidopa and levodopa).  If you are using a drug that depletes your body of B vitamins, you must supplement your diet with extra B vitamins daily and demand that your doctor check your homocysteine levels periodically. 

    High levels of homocysteine can be toxic.  It can shrink your brain, dull you reflexes and lead to depression.  It can also double your chances for developing Alzheimer’s, and is toxic to the cells lining your arteries leading to atherosclerosis or hardening of your arteries in your brain and heart.  Another side effect of high homocysteine is enhanced free radical damage to your arteries, which increases the formation of plaque and triggers an inflammatory response by the nervous system.  Unfortunately, many people have high homocysteine levels and don’t know it.  Our modern diet is highly processed and is lacking good B vitamins.  As we age, we also produce less hydrochloric acid in our stomachs causing a reduced breakdown of the food we eat.  This condition is called hypochloridemia (or too little stomach acid).  Dr. Perlmutter is the first medical doctor I have found to believe the same thing I have been telling my patients for years.  He says “hypochloridemia (low acid) can cause the same symptoms of indigestion characterized by excess stomach acid, and many people erroneously treat it by taking over-the-counter antacids. This only makes the matter worse because it further depletes acid production and interferes with the absorption of B12.  Moreover, many commonly used prescription drugs that you may very well be taking deplete B vitamins and thereby elevate homocysteine.”  A homocysteine level over 9 micomoles per liter must be addressed.

    Solution:  The good news is that elevated homocysteine levels can easily be lowered by taking the right combination of B vitamins and by eating more dark green vegetables, whole grains, and beans.  For B vitamin supplementation I recommend whole food sources like Nutritional Yeast Flakes and B Complexes from Standard Process Labs and Premier Research Labs.  Everyone has different requirements; therefore we need to discuss your diet and the number of drugs you take so that we can assess the best level of B vitamins for you.

    Make sure you take Dr. Perlmutter’s Brain Audit and let me know your results.

    Go to www.birdsleychiro.com, click on forms, and then click on Brain Audit.  Call or email me if you have any questions.


    Building a Better Brain Through Nutrition

    The next piece of the puzzle for better Brain Health is nutrition.  If you want to perform at the highest levels and have optimum brain health, you must be vigilant about what you put on your plate.  Nutrition is the most important tool for staying mentally and physically fit and is by far the most underutilized tool. 

    Dr. Perlmutter states, “From the perspective of a neurologist, the standard American diet is a nightmare.  It is loaded with poor-quality fat that can make your brain cells sluggish but is scarce in healthy fat that can keep your brain cells flexible and ‘smart’.  It is packed with highly processed, nutrient-deficient food that is laden with sugar and chemicals additives that practically invite free radicals and inflammation to invade your brain.  If I were to design a diet with the sole purpose of creating an epidemic of poor brain function, accelerated brain aging, mood disorders, and other neurological problems, it would be the one that most Americans are already following.”

    Scary, isn’t it?  Most people I talk to think they eat well; however, when they get specific about what they eat, they are consuming high sugar, high fat, highly processed, fake foods laden with additives and preservatives.  Fortunately they can change.  We have a choice.  We can follow the Standard American Diet (SAD) and decline and walk around in a forgetful fog or we can change what we eat and protect our brains against aging, debility and disease.  Simple changes can have significant consequences for the better.  Get the fattening starchy junk foods off your plates such as refined, processed grains, white bread, white rice, chips, white pasta, sweetened cereals and replace them with real food such as unprocessed whole grains loaded with brain building B vitamins and antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables.  Eliminate the unnecessary sources of sugar such as soda and other sweetened beverages and snack foods.  They only add extra pounds to your hips and thighs and accelerate the formation of free radicals, which are toxic to your brain.  Buy produce and meat that are free from added chemicals such as pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics that can spread inflammation throughout your body.  If you do all that, it can add up to significant health benefits for your body and mind alike.

    Change Your Fat, Change Your Brain

    The most important nutrient for your brain is fat.  It needs fat more than any other nutrient, because it is made up of fat.  The problem with the American Diet is we feed it unhealthy fats and wind up with unhealthy brains.  There are 4 types of fat in the food we eat:  monounsaturated fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and trans-fatty acids.  The first 3 are natural and occur in food.  Trans-fats are a creation of modern chemical processing and have slowly crept into the food supply and into your brain.

    Monounsaturated Fats

    These are brain friendly fats from mainly olive oil, nuts and avocados.  They are high in antioxidants thus are less vulnerable to free radical attack and less prone to damage.

    Saturated Fats

    They don’t make high-energy, agile brain cells.  They make sluggish ones.  Limited amounts are OK so limit them to about 10% or less of your daily diet.  Unfortunately, Americans consume about 3 times that amount.  They come primarily from meat, chicken, eggs and dairy.  They are prone to oxidative stress increasing the risk of free radical damage to your cells.  They can also raise the level of homocysteine, the amino acid that in excess is toxic to your brain.  High homocysteine can cause memory problems, mood disorders and may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Be sure and review my last email or the attachment on “B Vitamins and Brain Health for more info on homocysteine.

    Polyunsaturated Fats

    Some forms are great for your brain.  Unfortunately we don’t eat enough of them.  They include essential fatty acids.  Essential means we need to get them from the food we eat.  We can’t make them.  They include Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids.  Most people don’t get enough Omega 3’s in their diet and too much Omega 6’s.  Omega 3’s are found in cold-water fish, dark green vegetables, some grains and some seeds, mostly pumpkin.  Omega 6’s come from animal, dairy and vegetable oils.

    The best fat for your brain is DHA, which comes from Omega 3 fatty acids.  The problem is that the consumption of too many bad fats (saturated fat and trans-fatty acids) and alcohol interfere with the use of DHA in the brain.  300 mg of DHA a day in supplement for is the minimum everyone should take.  If you are in tier 3, you should be taking 600 mg per day.

    Commercially processed oils and margarine are converted into trans-fatty acids in the body, which promote free radical production and inflammation.  Although people tend to get enough and most the time too much omega 6 fatty acids from food, they may be deficient in one type of omega 6 fatty acid, gammalinoleic acid (GLA).  Good sources of GLA include avocados, walnuts, seeds, and borage oil.  GLA has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

    Nuts and seeds should be eaten raw.  Omega 3 fatty acids and broken down with heat and lose their nutritional benefits if they are heated at too high a temperature.

    Trans-Fatty Acids

    These fats make rigid, tough, slow brain cells.  Get these fats off your plate.  Trans fats are primarily found in processed baked goods, fried foods and margarine.  The most dangerous aspect of trans-fatty acids is that they crowd out healthier fats.  Even if you eat good fats along with trans fats, the trans fats will end up in your cell membranes.  The problem with that is that your brain and other cells become less functional.  The cell membranes become hardened and rigid interfering with hormones that communicate with your cells.  This can lead to diabetes, heart disease, dementia, depression and a whole host of other conditions. 

    Caution:  Just because the label says no trans fats, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any in the product.  You need to learn how to read labels.  The government allows food manufactures to label their products with “no trans fats” as long as there are less than 500mg of trans fats per serving.  Example, a small package of potato chips typically has 2 servings per bag but who eats only half a bag?  Those two servings can have up to 1000mg of hidden trans fats (500mg per serving).  If the ingredients on the label list partially hydrogenated oil or hydrogenated oil then there are trans fats.  Stay away from it.

    Eat More Good Fat

    Eating a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids is a good first step toward increasing your level of DHA in your brain.  Along with that, you must eliminate trans fats from your diet and cut down on saturated fats from animal and dairy products and polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils.  Cook with olive oil and/or coconut oil.  Salad dressings should be made from olive oil or flax seed oil.  The key is increasing the good omega 3 fatty acids, decreasing the omega 6 fatty acids and eliminating trans-fatty acids from your diet.

    Brain Exercises to Sharpen Your Senses

    Here are a few exercises that take little time, but can help sharpen your senses:

    • Brush your teeth with the opposite hand
    • Sit in a different chair at the dinner table
    • Eat a new food – differentiate and identify the spices
    • Get dressed with your eyes closed or in the dark
    • Wear earplugs around the house for an hour
    • Sit outside with your eyes closed and identify sounds and smells
    • Play a card game with friends
    • Balance on one foot, and then on the other foot while doing a task
    • Read out loud and then listen to someone else read
    • Look up and stand up while saying the word “down”
    • Look down and sit down while saying the word “up”
    • Take a new rout to work or some other usual location
    • Try to guess the denomination of coins by simply feeling them
    • Welcome new and challenging tasks and encounters



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