The following post is #2 in our 4-part series on Memory Loss
The First Steps to Improving Your Brain Health
Memory loss is a common complaint, especially as we age.
We notice that our ability to recall information is not as sharp as it once was.
By the time you reach the end of this email, you will understand the root drivers of memory loss and how we can prevent it.
If you haven’t yet read Memory Loss #1, we recommend you do so.
All chronic disease—including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease—can stem from chronic inflammation or oxidative stress that begins years, maybe decades, before the diagnosis.
Acidity and toxicity build up also plays a major role.
Unfortunately, once AD or dementia are diagnosed, it is extremely difficult to reverse the damage, which is why our health and wellbeing should become a top priority in our lives.
If we can decrease acidity, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and toxin build up in our bodies, we will not only improve our memory, and greatly reduce the risk of AD and dementia, we will also greatly improve our overall health.
WHERE TO START?
Know your pH
Acidity is a major contributor to AD.
Foods that are considered alkaline are:
- Fruits: Apricots, apples, bananas and avocados
- Vegetables: Asparagus, broccoli and carrots
- Gluten free grains: Brown rice and quinoa
- Leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach and kale
Acidic foods include:
- Coffee, tea and hot chocolate
- Wheat and grains
- Beef and pork
One of the best things we can do for our brain health and acidity levels is to simply breathe deeply.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the most common drivers of acidosis.
We release CO2 when we breathe out.
Taking deep breaths is often a coping method for stress and anxiety.
This is interesting as CO2 has long been known to trigger anxiety and panic attacks.
And what is one of the main drivers of AD? STRESS and ANXIETY.
Ensure you take some time to focus on breathing and take long, deep breaths of clean, fresh air as often as you can, or try breath work exercises. This will release our CO2, which will decrease stress, anxiety and acidosis, which will then aide us in achieving optimum brain health.
Remember; when testing your morning saliva and 2nd urine of the day, your optimal pH level is between 7 and 7.2.
Decrease Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Firstly, let's define these.
Inflammation is a normal defense mechanism against any harm caused to the body such as illness, injuries or and toxins. It is the body’s way of attempting to heal itself by sending antibodies, proteins and blood to the affected area for a few hours to decrease the inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is defined as prolonged inflammation.
It occurs when this inflammatory response lingers and remains for months or even years.
Over time, this type of inflammation can have a negative impact on your cells, organs and tissues and even damage your DNA, cause tissue death and leave internal scarring.
It is linked to several chronic diseases such as cancer, chronic skin challenges, Thyroid problems, asthma, allergies and auto-immune disease.
Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are molecules that contain oxygen and are produced by the body as a result of normal metabolism and energy production.
They are missing one or more electrons.
In order to ‘replace their missing parts’, free radicals will aggressively attack other molecules.
This reaction is called ‘oxidation’.
This can either be beneficial or harmful.
They are produced as a natural biological response to things such as environmental toxins, exercise and inflammation.
Antioxidants are electron donors.
They can donate electrons to other molecules without making itself unstable.
They are key in protecting the body against a free radical rampage by allowing the free radical to stabilise.
An imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants can cause your cells to underperform and lead to tissue and DNA damage, and a range of diseases.
This is known as oxidative stress, and can create a lot of different health challenges like . . .
1. Memory Challenges
3. Heart disease
6. Obesity, unwanted fat
7. Metabolic Syndrome
Oxidative stress often occurs with chronic inflammation, and by studying the above picture you can see how together they take an enormous toll on your body and can contribute to nearly every disease.
How is it linked to Memory loss?
When the body is in a state of oxidative stress, it has an overload of free radicals.
The term free radical usually refers to reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Neuronal cells metabolise almost one fourth of the total oxygen in the body, which makes the brain particularly vulnerable to ROS free radical attacks.
When out of balance, ROS are neurotoxic and an over production of ROS free radicals can cause neuron degeneration, cell damage and neurofibrillary tangles which are all attributed to AD.
The brain can also become inflamed, just like the rest of the body.
This inflammation can be caused by leaky gut, gut inflammation, chronic joint pain or an unmanaged autoimmune disease.
Immune cells called cytokines are released when the body is inflamed which activates inflammation in the brain.
Brain inflammation hinders neuron communication and shut down their energy production.
This leads to neurons firing much slower and reduces brain endurance.
If this inflammation is not reduced, over time it can lead to chronic inflammation which results in neuron death and AD.
Drivers of Brain Inflammation
There are many things that contribute to brain inflammation.
Some of these include:
- High blood sugar
- Lack of exercise
- Respiratory issues
- Gluten consumption when intolerant
- Chronic stress
- Oxidative stress
- Environmental toxins
- Leaky blood – brain barrier
Just like the gut, the brain’s blood – brain barrier can also become ‘leaky’.
The barrier is designed to allow nanoparticles in and out as needed, but if damaged it is left defenceless to foreign invaders and can greatly increase our risk of brain inflammation.
A lot of the drivers of brain inflammation, are also the cause of the degeneration of the blood-brain barrier.
We can help restore it by stabilising blood sugar and stress levels, removing inflammatory foods, addressing our chronic health issues and increasing our antioxidant intake.
Foods that reduce chronic inflammation and oxidative stress include:
- Omega 3’s like fatty fish and chia seeds
- Dark leafy greens
- Nuts, particularly hazelnuts and walnuts
- Herbs including ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, and rosemary
- Gingko Biloba
Foods to avoid include:
- Processed meats, snack foods and oils
- Trans fats
- Refined carbohydrates
Cleanse and Heal the Four Filters
Once the above has been addressed, the four filters of the body include the gut, liver, immune system and kidneys, and they each play a unique and important role in brain health.
Researchers have found that the microbiome of the gut of a person affected by dementia-like diseases including mild cognitive impairment or AD have gut dysbiosis, or unbalanced gut microbiome.
When the liver is diseased, certain substances are unable to be filtered including ammonium.
This can cause psychological and neurocognitive disorders in adults.
Immune system disruptions can lead to neurogenesis and cognitive decline, due to the body’s inability to maintain normal functioning of the central nervous system (CNS) in this disrupted state.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the brain is an outgrowth of, and is nourished by the kidneys.
It also tells us that “kidneys give rise to marrow, and the brain is the sea of marrow”.
If the kidney essence is insufficient, the production of cerebral marrow will be reduced leading to symptoms such as amnesia.
As you can see it is very important that the four filters work effectively if we are to improve our memory and brain health.
By cleaning up our diet and increasing water and exercise the four filters will already have a great start in the detoxification process, however the best way to cleanse the filters effectively is to contact your naturopath to check the health of the gut, liver, immune system and kidneys, and tailor a cleansing program that is unique to your body.
When we exercise aerobically (aka cardio) it increases the amount of oxygen in our brain, decreases inflammation and insulin resistance and boosts the health, vitality and abundance of blood vessels and cells in the brain.
It also seems to boost the size of the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning).
Exercising at least three times a day for 30 minutes has also been proven to affect mood and sleep and reduce stress and anxiety.
Stress and anxiety are linked to cognitive decline and exercise has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
In our next post, we will take a look at the effect the conscious and subconscious minds have on our ability to store and make new memories.
Until next time,
Dedicated to Improving Your Wellbeing and Committed To Helping You Achieve Abundant Health and Wealth,
The team at Unique Health and Wellness.
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