‘You are what you eat’, has never been truer, and more telling of the future of your health. What you eat governs what your cells are made up of, and in turn, reflects how you feel, both mentally and physically. Inflammation is the root cause of so many illnesses and so the primary goal of prevention of any and all illness is to minimize inflammation.
Inflammation and the Brain
On the topic of brain health, reducing inflammation is a top priority as inflammatory states can cause ailments from mental health disorders like anxiety, and depression, to chronic, degenerative diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. Chronic low-grade inflammation can also arise from inflammatory foods, leaving you feeling foggy, unrested and out of it.
I’m sure you’re wondering now, how can I reduce my risk for these conditions? What can I take to reduce my risk? The most potent protocol in any condition, including neurodegenerative disease (diseases of the nervous system including the brain) and mental health, is diet and lifestyle intervention. Included in the dietary interventions is food-based supplementation such as dietary fat intake. Dietary guidelines to follow would be to reduce overall grain intake, as this favours an anti-inflammatory environment, and the brain thrives on a fat dominant, low carbohydrate diet.
The Mayo Clinic released a study In the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012, which found that of the over 1000 subjects analyzed, those with the greater carbohydrate intake (vs fat) had a ~90% increase in risk of being mentally impaired and those with the higher intake of saturated fat (yes, I said saturated fat!) had a 36% reduced risk of becoming mentally impaired, and those who ate the fattest overall, had a 44% reduced risk.
In particular, Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain, improve cognitive function, improve anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk for many diseases, including brain related disease.
Unfortunately, they are essential, meaning we must get them through food/supplementation, as the body cannot produce them on our own. Eating cold water fish is your best bet such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna, and herring. However, supplementation is necessary to reach the therapeutic doses. Finding a high quality, professional grade fish oil supplement Pure Encapsulations EPA/DHA Liquid with at least a 2:1 (or greater, such as 3:1) of EPA: DHA is of great importance, as fish oils can go rancid when the manufacturing process isn’t up to par.
Blood flow to the brain can also be compromised in various conditions, new lifestyle choices (with some help from our herbal friends) can make promising changes. 30 mins of brisk walking daily are effective for weight management, along with St. Francis Herb Farm Gingko tincture formula, which increases microcirculation in the brain.
Our Second Brain
Last but certainly not least, brain health cannot be mentioned without mentioning the human microbiome, which exists as the bacterial colonies in our gut, or ‘Second Brain’. Optimizing this will also be pivotal in maintaining a prolonged anti-inflammatory state. Removing inflammatory foods, repairing damage in the intestinal lining with I-Glutamine powder by Pure Encapsulations and homemade organic Bone Broth, adding in Probiotic 50B by Pure Encapsulations in the form of supplements and/or food based probiotics (fermented foods), will be the key to optimizing gut health, and in turn, brain health!
Dr. Adrienne Zarifis, Naturopathic Doctor is passionate about Cardiovascular (heart) health and practices in downtown Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Zarifis helps guide her patients with a research-driven, patient goal-oriented style of practice and believes that the more empowered people feel about their own health, the stronger the community. You may visit www.DrAdrienneZarifisND.com and contact the clinic for further information, as she is always accepting and encouraging new patients.