Broken Brain. Another great word coined by Dr. Mark Hyman in his book, The UltraMind Solution.* One out of three Americans suffer from a broken brain. What is a broken brain? Broken brains lead to symptoms categorized into psychiatric or neurological disorders. Depression. Anxiety. Insomnia. Behavioral Problems. Lack of Focus and Attention. Dementia. Alzheimers. Brain Fog. ADD. ADHD. Autism. Learning Disabilities. Addictions. Cognitive Impairment. Parkinsons …
If you are one of the 125 million Americans who suffer from a broken brain - whether mild to severe - then focusing on the totality of solutions will yield more results than focusing on the diagnosis whose main treatment protocol is the management of medications. Medications have their place and time, but the overuse, misuse and multiple drug interactions have often amplified the problems of broken brains.
The totality of solutions led Dr. Hyman to create The Seven Keys to UltraWellness, discussed below. One question to ask if you suffer with symptoms of a broken brain is: “What is the cause or causes of my dysfunction?” For example, each person suffering from depression may have various root causes. Understanding these causes and fixing them is imperative. Causes include toxicity, nutrient deficiencies or depletions, blood sugar dysfunctions, chronic stress, microbial infections, hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances, digestive problems, inflammation and metabolism.
My articles have stated over and over again to take out the trash, give the body what it needs and stimulate the vital force. These Seven Keys effectively address that philosophy.
One aggravating cause (such as a gluten allergy/intolerance or a magnesium deficiency), can explain multiple complications occurring in the body and the brain. But more often, multiple causes underlie our broken bodies and broken brains. Medications as solutions for these physical, mental, emotional or neurologic disorders are the number two selling class of prescription drugs, with cholesterol medications being number one! Are the medications helping you? Is the counseling and therapy helping you? Are you someone limping along and not enjoying life more fully? Try an allopathic approach. You WILL see positive results as you begin this journey of fixing your body that in turn WILL fix your brain.
*The ideas in this article combine my knowledge from naturopathic medical school and my clinical experience with Dr. Hyman’s excellent and concise book. The UltraMind Solution provides a simple plan to defeat depression, overcome anxiety and sharpen your mind.
STOP INSULTING YOUR BRAIN!
Before looking at the first Key (Part II in September will reveal all the other Keys) to fixing your broken brain by fixing your body, let’s first look at removing the following six insults.
1. Remove High Fructose Corn Syrup, Any form of Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates completely from your diet, as they are more addictive than cocaine and detrimental to your health by affecting all the tissues of your body, especially your brain. The average person consumes 66 pounds of HFCS and 175 pounds of sugar per year. Sugar consumption will lead to dementia later in life.
2. Remove Trans or Hydrogenated Fats found in processed foods, baked goods, fried foods, margarine and almost any “food” that comes from a factory. These fats interrupt normal brain function in everyone.
3. Any brain trauma (even mild concussions) should be taken seriously (prevention: helmets and precautions in contact sports) and treated immediately. Seek proper medical attention and follow up with homeopathy, craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care and brain food/supplements.
4. Sleep Deprivation can increase stress hormones such as cortisol, which kills brain cells in hippocampus (an area in the brain affecting memory and mood). Eight to nine hours of good sleep is a must for brain health.
5. Lack of exercise decreases the brain’s hormones (IGF-1 and BDNF) that help the brain to make new brain cells and improve connections between brain cells. Exercise has been proven over and over again to improve cognition, memory, depression and dementia. It also increases dopamine (focus) and serotonin (mood) in the brain.
6. Chronic Stress causes cortisol, norepinephrine (noreadrenaline) and epinephrine (adrenaline) to be secreted by the adrenal glands for our fight or flight reactions to stress or perceived stress. Cortisol significantly damages the brain. RELAX! Breathe. Meditate. Yoga. Hypnosis. Laugh. Exercise. Sleep.
KEY #1: OPTIMIZE NUTRITION
Fats: Checkmark your symptoms on this list to see if you may have a mild, moderate or severe fatty-acid deficiency. Soft, cracked or brittle nails. Dry, itchy, scaling or flaking skin. Hard earwax. Tiny bumps on the backs of arms or on the trunk. Dandruff. Aching or stiffness in joints. Thirsty often. Constipated (less than two bowel movements per day). Light-colored, hard or foul-smelling stools. Depression, ADHD or memory loss. High blood pressure. Fibrocystic breasts. PMS. High LDL, low HDL and high TGs. Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Scandinavian or coastal Native American descent.
RESULTS: 0-4 is mild, 5-7 is moderate and 8 or more is severe.
Consider this: some indigenous people eat 15-19 grams of good fat per day from ocean animals. Most Americans consume less than 1 gram of omega-3s per day. Sources of omega 3s are wild fish (small fish), wild game, seaweed (Algin), algae (Spirulina, Super Algae) and eggs laid from chickens fed only flaxseeds and fishmeal. Omega 3s are most important for their EPA and DHA forms. 60% of your brain is made up of DHA so it is VERY important to have adequate amounts in our diet, especially for children. The “essential” in essential fatty acids means that it has to come from our diet and cannot be synthesized in our bodies.
The other problem with Omega 3s today is their ratio to Omega 6s. The ratio should be 4:1, yet today it can be 1:20 or even 1:40! Omega 6s are pro-inflammatory and come from refined oils including corn, soy and safflower. Low levels of Omega 3s and high levels of Omega 6s are linked to all psychiatric and neurological disorders. Not only are Omega 3s anti-inflammatory and great for all broken brain disorders, but they are also great for heart health, obesity and diabetes. Omega 3s along with cholesterol (eggs, shrimp and poultry), phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylserine (PS) are great for building all cell membranes to promote cell-to-cell communication and proper binding of a substrate to the receptor on the cell wall. PC is found in lecithin supplement, egg yolks, soybeans (organic only), sardines, nuts, peanuts, lentils, sesame seeds and flaxseeds. PS is found safely only in supplements. A minimum of Omega 3 fatty acid is 4 grams per day.
Protein (Amino Acids): Proteins from fish, chicken, beans, nuts and seeds are broken down into amino acids used to build all kinds of things in the body including enzymes, muscle, neurotransmitter and cell receptors. Deficiencies in amino acids will create imbalances in the body - especially with neurotransmitters, causing lack of or miscommunication in the brain with regards to mood, cognitive function, memory and concentration. It has been very effective in my practice to test the peripheral neurotransmitters via the urine to correlate any reported imbalances to dysfunction in the brain.
Let’s take at look at three different neurotransmitters and their potential deficiencies:
Lowdopamine levels would look like depression, low energy mentally and physically, low motivation or desire, won’t exercise, difficulty concentrating or focusing, sleeping a lot or difficulty waking up in the morning and the need for stimulates to “wake up.” Dopamine is responsible for pleasure, reward, attention and focus. It motivates and stimulates us. Phenylalanine makes tyrosine that makes dopamine. Beans, nuts, seeds, lean poultry, fish and eggs will give you phenylalanine and tyrosine. If you are an addict, have a low-energy depression or ADHD, then you most likely have low dopamine levels. Parkinsons patients have low dopamine. Stimulants (cocaine, speed, coffee, pornography and gambling) deplete your body’s own productions of dopamine. Tyrosine, Super Omega, Brain Protex and NutriCalm for B-vitamins may support dopamine levels.
Low serotonin levels looks like automatic negative thoughts, pessimistic, low self-esteem and confidence, obsessive thoughts/behaviors, S.A.D., irritability, easily angered, impatient, shy, fears, anxiety, panic attacks, PMS, sleeping problems, cravings for sweets, starchy carbs, muscle aches, fibromyalgia and TMJ. Make sure your diet has enough protein - aim for 100 grams per day looking like 1 cup of turkey, 1 cup of chicken and two scoops of Love and Peas protein powder. Decrease stress or your body’s response to stress because cortisol and other inflammatory messengers inhibit tryptophan from making serotonin. Eliminate sugar, processed foods and refined carbs. Add B Complex with extra B6 and Magnesium Complex. Eliminate food sensitivities/intolerences. 5-HTP Power.
Low GABA levelslook like difficulty to relax, easily stressed out, easily overwhelmed, feeling overworked or pressured, stiff, uptight, weak, shaky, bothered by loud noises, lights and too much activity, worse if meals are skipped and replaced with the use of sugar, alcohol and marijuana. If you have anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, seizures and schizophrenia, then low levels of GABA are probable. GABA Plus contains taurine to produce GABA. Anxiousless contains theanine to help boost GABA. NutriCalm or B-Complex. Magnesium Complex. And nervine herbs such as kava kava, valerian, hops and passionflower.
Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates in the form of whole, unprocessed plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices are the most important for long-term health and brain function. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. I love to add the following five products to my diet for power packed nutrition. Love and Peas, Nature’s Harvest, Ionic Minerals, Ultimate GreenZone and LOCLO fiber. I do this almost daily because I know that our current food supply is deficient in the proper nutrients because of soil depletions and our bodies need extra in order to combat chronic stress and toxicity.
Vitamins & Minerals:For the reasons just stated, it is also very important to supplement with the following: B-Vitamins or NutriCalm, Magnesium Complex, Ionic Minerals or Herbal Trace Minerals or Chinese Chi Tonic, Zinc and Vitamin D3. Please go to ultramind.com/guide for questionnaires on deficiencies of these nutrients.