Monday, February 27, 2012

The Seven Brain Drainers

Okay ladies and gentlemen...that was the easy part - even though eating right is really very important - it is also about minimizing the here it is - the title of Part 2: Protecting your Brain by getting rid of the SEVEN Brain Drainers:

1. Oxidants - don't buy foods containing hydrogenated fats, (and don't heat up nuts and seeds - don't cook with flax seeds! Say no to Free Radicals! Flax is happier when it is stable) - they mess up the thinking process by taking the place of the good fats and even block conversion of these essential fats into GLA, DHA and prostaglandins- those spots are reserved for the good stuff - Omega 3's especially and if you aren't getting enough Omega's (see last blog) AND you are eating the bad fats, this is bad news. SMOKING too is bad news - no news really but here you have it - one puff of cigarette contains a trillion oxidants which are running to your brain...(ANTI-oxidants are vital for this reason - that's your Beta-Carotenes, Vitamin C's and E's and many others - another reason to eat your greens and take a supplement that is goooood)

2.Alcohol- moderate drinking - a glass of wine a day for example- is fine. Any more than that and you are seriously risking those intellectual capabilities.

3.Stress - When we are stressed, we forget things - why? Because stress increases levels of Cortisol - a hormone that damages our brain - shriveling up the dendrites - the connections between brain cells. The good news is that they can grow back once the stress has been removed. We will get into how to take that stress away more later. For now - stay cool! ;)

4. Nasty Sugar - Okay, we've been over this before - Holford esimates that, "a majority of people with mental health problems, from depression to schizophrenia, have blood-sugar problems as a major underlying cause." (pg87) One teaspoon of sugar uses up B vitamins - essential for maximizing mental performance. They have found that there is a correlation between consumption of sugar and IQ (the higher the sugar consumption, the lower the IQ - I know it isn't all about IQ of course - but it is a good indicator for knowing how the brain is doing) One study involving 1300 juvenile offenders placed on a reduced-sugar diet reported a 44 % reduction in antisocial behaviour. And still the doctors will say there is no connection between hyperactivity and sugar?? There are way too many studies listed in this book that I can't list here that clearly show that there absolutely is.

5. Stimulants - Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, Colas -they are all stimulants and they are all addictive. Caffeine blocks the receptors for a brain chemical called adenosine - resulting in levels of dopamine and adrenalin going up...ahhh - that feels good - but then - as this cycle continues and you continue to consume caffeine, and need more and more, the body continues to push to produce these neurotransmitters, the net result is adrenal exhaustion - an inability to produce these important chemicals when you actually need them.

Okay - so do you hate me yet? (Well - just you wait - but before I go on to the last points) How do we stop consuming these things we love so well? Don't quit all at once. Do one thing at a time - you don't want to add too much stress on to yourself as you to get healthier! A good way to start is to avoid one item for a month and see how you feel. Consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Take a good broad-spectrum vitamin again - these will help regulate your blood-sugar level and fill those spots where you are craving. (when we are craving, we are usually looking for some nutrient that is no longer in that product - sugar for example has choline in it when it is not refined and we need choline when we are craving sugar)

6.Brain Pollution- avoid! Heavy Metals are so prevalent today that the average person has body levels 700X higher than that of our ancestors.Lead (exhaust fumes); Cadmium (cigarettes); Mercury (Pesticides, Fillings); Aluminum (Cookware, water); Copper (water- from pipes - especially new homes and kettles); Tartazine (Food Colourings). The good news is that many nutrients like Vitamin C and Zinc assist with removing these pollutants from the body. If you have mental health problems, a hair-mineral analysis is recommended. I can't do those but a Professional like a Naturopath could help you.

7. Brain Allergies: This was a hefty chapter. I have read many books including Elaine Gotschall's Breaking the Vicious Cycle book which is wonderful and inspiring, but this book including so much of the scientific background that people have been asking me for - that was very exciting. To go in to it all here is impossible but I will do my best to summarize. Many studies in to allergies have been done and the connections between the brain and the gut are clear. In one study where 250 emotionally disturbed patients were examined - the highest percentage of symptoms occurred in patients diagnosed as psychotic. The emotional symptoms that they found were caused by allergic intolerance ranged from mild symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, anxiety, depression all the way up to severe psychosis. The most common food intolerances amongst the studies are milk/dairy and wheat, but of course not exclusively. This gives you a place to start. Each person is unique. Other foods common to these symptoms are eggs, oranges, other grains, shellfish, nuts, soy and nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant).

"If you have a history of infantile colic, eczema, asthma, ear infections" (that was me!)"hay fever, seasonal allergies, digestive problems (especially bloating), frequent colds, or daily mood swings, or function better when you don't eat certain foods, you may have a food intolerance." (pg 116)

Often, there are other core issues taking place with intolerances too - mainly, digestive weaknesses like Leaky Gut Syndrome, Underactive stomach and Candidiasis. So, though it is completely safe to start eliminating culprit foods and adjusting your diet, you might find that you need to seek some aditional assistance with a solid plan - from a Nutritional Consultant. like what I am going to be in a year or so! :)
In the meantime, try to avoid Wheat and Dairy for two weeks and see how you feel. It might be difficult but many have gone before you and it is completely doable!

Part 2 done! Part 3 is Improving your IQ, Memory and Mood - Wow - for sure I'm in...what about you? :)

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