Although working with a qualified practitioner is frequently necessary, you must realize the bulk of the work falls on your shoulders. When it comes to addressing your brain health, your first and most important step ---- and probably your most difficult ---- is changing your diet.
Take charge of your brain by taking charge of your diet
If you want your brain to works you have to change your diet. This can make it more difficult to eat at friends’ houses, grab easy snacks, or eat dirt-cheap. If you are going to complain endlessly, then this program is probably not right for you. Your negative attitude will raise stress levels and inflammatory cytokines.
GO GLUTEN – FREE (chapter 8)
At the very least you should adopt a strict gluten-free diet. No food is a more potent trigger of neurological problems and autoimmunity than gluten. Standard lab sting for gluten is not reliable, as most labs only test for antibodies to alpha gliadin and intestinal transglutaminase (TG2). A more complete screen, such as Cyrex Lab’s Wheat/Gluten Proteome Sensitivity and Autoimmunity Panel Array 3 includes:
If your brain is not working, a gluten-free diet is your first step toward better brain health.
THE LEAKY GUT DIET (chapter 9)
In many cases, going gluten-free alone is not enough. Many people, particularly those with autoimmune and neurological issues, have sensitivities to other foods due to cross-reactivity and leaky gut. This is the diet I recommend to people experiencing brain health issues. This diet allows the immune system to rest and the gut to repair, which profoundly impacts brain health.
Length of time on diet
You may only need to follow this diet for a few days to a week after accidental exposure or a slip. Or you may need to follow it for a month or more to repair leaky gut. You can confirm whether you have repaired your leaky gut by using the Cyrex Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen. However, many people with autoimmune reactions or brain health issues make this diet or some variation of it a way of life for optimal function.
Ho often you eat --- keeping blood sugar stable is key
A key aspect to this diet is keeping your blood sugar stable. This means you should eat often enough that you do not become hungry or feel your energy crash, which will trigger stress and inflammation. As your blood sugar becomes more stable you may find you can go longer between eating.
Keeping overall carbohydrate consumption low compared to the standard American diet (SAD) is vital to stabilizing blood sugar. The amount of carbohydrates a person needs varies entirely upon the person, his lifestyle, and health issues.
Foods to avoid
You avoid these foods because they have been shown to trigger inflammation and stress in many people, which will exacerbate your autoimmune condition, inflammation, and poor brain health.
All sugars and sweeteners, even honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, date sugar, etc. Do not be deceived by “low-glycemic” sweeteners; they are still high in sugar.
High-glycemic fruits: watermelon, mango, pineapple, raisins, grapes, canned fruits, dates, dried fruits, etc.
Tomatoes, potatoes, or mushrooms
Grains: wheat, oats, rice, barley, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, etc.
Dairy; milk, cram, cheese, butter, whey. Ghee is OK for many people,
Eggs or foods containing eggs
Soy: soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, soy protein, etc.
Lectins --- a major promoter of leaky gut --- found in nuts, beans, soy, potatoes, tomato, eggplant, peppers, peanut oil, peanut butter and soy oil, among others
Instant coffee: Many brands of instant coffee are contaminated with gluten
Foods to eat
You need to give yourself more time to shop and p prepare so you always have something on hand to eat or when you go out. For resources visit my website.
Most vegetables (except tomato, potatoes, and mushrooms) asparagus, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, beets, cauliflower, carrots, celery, artichokes, garlic, onions, zucchini, squash, rhubarb, cucumbers, turnips and watercress, among others.
Fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled ginger, fermented cucumbers, coconut yogurt, kombucha, etc. You will probably need to make your own or buy one of the few brands that are genuinely fermented and free of sugars or additives.
Meats: fish, chicken, beef, lamb, organ meats, etc. Best choices are grass-fed and pastured meats from a local farm. Second best is organic. Avoid factory-farmed meats that contain antibiotics and hormones. For a souce of good meat near you, contact your local Weston A. Price chapter leader.
Low-glycemic fruits: apricots, plums, apples, peaches, pears, cherries and berried, to name a few.
Coconut: coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut milk, cucunut cream
Olives and olive oil
Food sensitivity panel
You may also choose to do a food sensitivity panel to confirm whether certain foods are causing an immune reaction. The Cyrex labs Gluten-Associated Sensitivity and Cross Reactive Foods Array 4 tests for these various food reactions.
SUPPLEMENTS TO SUPPORT THE LEAKY GUT DIET (chapter 9)
This diet is very therapeutic in itself. However, you may want to further support this diet with various nutritional and botanical compounds to tame inflammation and facilitate repair of the gut lining.
Probiotics can be important part of modulating the gut’s immune system and restoring a healthy balance of gut flora.
Detoxing yeast, bacteria, and parasites
Sometimes eradicating yeast and bacterial overgrowths and parasites is a necessary part of restoring gut health. However, it’s also necessary to tread gently in this territory. Too aggressive of a detox makes some people very ill with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other effects. Always start slowly and with small doses when taking gut detoxifying compounds.
Yeast and bacterial overgrowth
Olive leaf extract
Black walnut extract
H. pylori and bacterial overgrowth
STIMULATE VAGUS NERVE (chapter 9)
We know the health of the gut profoundly impacts brain health and function. Likewise, poor brain function can impact gut function by impairing activity of the vagus nerve, which handles communication between the brain and gut. Symptoms of poor vagal function include poor intestinal motility (constipation), poor digestive enzyme production (bloating, indigestion), floating stool or undigested food in stool and symptoms of poor liver detoxification. You can improve the plasticity and function of the vagus nerve with some simple exercises:
Gargling: Drink several large glass of water per day and gargle each sip until you finish the glass of water. You should gargle long enough and deep enough to make it a bi challenging. Do this exercise for several weeks to help strengthen the vagal pathways.
Sing loudly: Sing as loud as you can when it’s appropriate. This works the muscles in the back of the throat to activate vagus.
Gag: Lay a tongue blade on the back of your tongue and bush down to activate a gag reflex.
Gag reflexes with to tongue depressor are like doing push-ups for the vagus while gargling and singing loudly are like doing sprints. You need to perform them for several weeks to produce change, just as you would with weight training.
Use a coffee enema for poor motility and to improve vagal plasticity
In patients with brain degeneration and regular constipation, I encourage them to perform daily coffee enemas.
SYMPTOMS OF BLOOD SUGAR IMBALANCES
Reactive hypoglycemia symptoms (low blood sugar spikes):
Increased energy after meals
Craving for sweets between meals
Irritability if meals are missed
Dependency on coffee and sugar for energy
Becoming lightheaded if meals are missed
Eating to relieve fatigue
Feeling shaky, jittery, or tremulous
Feeling agitated and nervous
Becoming easily upset
Poor memory, forgetfulness
Insulin resistance symptom (high blood sugar spikes):
Fatigue after meals
Craving for sweets not relieved by eating them
Must have sweets after meals
Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
Increased appetite and thirst
Difficulty losing weight
Migrating aches and pains
Stabilizing blood sugar
Eat a breakfast of high quality protein and fats.
If you have hypoglycemia, eat a small amount of protein and/or healthy fat every 2 to 3 hours.
Find your carbohydrate tolerance and stick to it. If you feel sleepy or crave sugar after you eat, you have eaten too many carbohydrates. You can also use a glucometer to check your fasting blood glucose, which ideally should be in the mid-to high-80s, and at least between 80-100.
Never eat high-carb foods without some fiber, fat, or protein. These will slow down the rate at which the glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream and help prevent “insulin shock.”
Do not eat sweets or starchy foods before bed. This is one of the worst things the hypoglycemic person can do. Your blood sugar will crash during the night, long before your next meal is due. Chances are your adrenals will kick into action, creating restless sleep or that 3 a.am. wake up with anxiety.
Avoid all fruit juices and carrot juice. These can be more sugary than soda, and will quickly have you crashing.
Avoid or limit caffeine
Eat a well-balanced diet consisting mostly of vegetables, and quality meats and fats.
Eliminate food allergens and intolerances.
Nutrients to support blood sugar balance
Your diet is the most profound way to stabilize blood sugar. However, certain nutritional compounds can help stabilize hypoglycemia or insulin resistance.
Nutrients to support a healthy response to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Bovine adrenal gland
Bovine liver gland
Bovine pancreas gland
Nutrients to support a healthy response to insulin resistance (high blood sugar)
Sometimes a person will swing back and forth between insulin resistance and hypoglycemia. In these cases I recommend taking nutritional compounds for insulin resistance with meals, and nutritional compounds for hypoglycemia between meals.
It’s important to work with a qualified health care practitioner so you take the right nutrients and botanicals in the right amounts. Taking the wrong nutrients for your blood sugar condition has the potential to make your condition worse.
DAMPEN STRESS (Chapter 6)
Reducing inflammation and dampening the stress response are a couple of ways to address the effects of stress on brain health. This means reducing dietary stressors with the leaky gut diet, managing lifestyle stressors, and addressing health imbalances that contribute to stress.
Nutritional compounds to help manage stress
Phosphatidylserine: Dampens the influence of stress on the brain. You can take it orally, but I prefer liposomal methods of phosphatidylserine delivered through the skin.
Herbal adrenal adaptogens: Powerful support when chronic stress is a problem. These herbs work on the stress pathways on the brain, particularly in the hippocampus. You can use them individually, but they have a greater synergistic effect when used in combination.
Panax ginseng extract
Holy basil extract
IMPROVE BRAIN CIRCULATION AND OXYGEN (Chapter 7)
One of the most vital nutrients for the brain is oxygen. If you suffer from any of the symptoms below your brain may not be getting optimal amounts of oxygen:
Low brain endurance and poor focus and concentration
Must exercise or drink coffee to improve brain function
Cold hands and feet
Poor nail health or fungal growth on toes
Must wear socks at night
White nail beds instead of bright pink
Cold tip of nose
Chronic stress, anemia, smoking, low blood pressure, high blood pressure, poor lung function, poor cardiovascular function and any mechanism that impairs blood vessels, such as diabetes, can impair the flow of blood to the brain.
Nutritional compounds for brain oxygenation
Although these herbal compounds have been shown to dilate cerebral arteries, they do not increase blood pressure; in fact they can do the opposite.
Butcher’s broom extract
Nitric oxide is a chemical-signaling molecule in the body involved with communication in the nervous, immune, and vascular systems. eNOS and nNOS are anti-inflammatory forms of nitric oxide while iNOS is inflammatory and associated with tissue damage from autoimmune disease. Raising your heart rate through high-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 5 minutes in the morning is one way to release anti-inflammatory eNOS. Use good judgment to work within your limits.
Nutritional compounds that support nitric oxide modulation
Both low and high blood pressure can impact the amount of oxygen delivered to your brain. Your blood pressure should be around 120/80. If the first of second number is higher of lower by 10, then you blood pressure is abnormal. The greater the amount of deviation from 120/80 the worse it is.
Low blood pressure
For people with low blood pressure I recommend glycyrrhiza, a natural compound from licorice that increase the hormone aldosterone, which helps you retain your sodium and can help raise low blood pressure. Man people can also raise their blood pressure to normal by salting their food, supplementing with licorice root, and managing hypoglycemia.
High blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure you must cut salt from your diet, exercise routinely, and reduce your stress. You can also take natural compounds such as magnesium and potassium to help bring your blood pressure down. Supporting nitric oxide modulation may also help reduce your blood pressure.
DAMPEN BRAIN INFLAMMATION (Chapter 10)
Inflammation in the brain doesn’t cause pain, so must people aren’t aware it ma be an issue for them. However, it accelerates brain degeneration and is associated with the following symptoms:
Low brain endurance
Slow and varied mental speeds
Loss of brain function after trauma
Brain fatigue and poor mental focus after meals
Brain fatigue promoted by systemic inflammation
Brain fatigue promoted by chemicals, scents, and pollutants
Brain inflammation is considered a model for chronic depression and other mood disorders. Because the brain’s immune cells (microglia) have no off switch, inflammation in the brain can continue long after the insult. Factors that cause brain inflammation include:
Diabetes and high-carbohydrate diets, which lead to the production of glycosylated end products that activate the microglia cell.
Lack of oxygen from poor circulation, lack of exercise, chronic stress response, heart failure, lung disorder, anemia
Previous head trauma
Neurological autoimmune reaction
Dietary gluten for those who are gluten intolerant
Low brain antioxidant status
Alcohol and drug abuse
Inflammatory bowel conditions
Compromised bold-brain barrier
Leaky brain challenge
You can perform the Leaky brain Challenge to determine whether your blood-brain barrier is permeable. Take 800-1,00 mg of GABA and give yourself a 2~3 hour window to see whether it affects you. It is best to take GABA between 6 pm and 9pm, so you can sleep it off if it sedates you If GABA causes relaxation, calming and sedation, don’t keep taking it regularly or you risk shutting your GABA receptor sites and a retest won’t be accurate.
If the GABA causes anxiety, irritability, or panic this also indicates a permeable blood-brain barrier. Eating some protein may help alleviate these symptoms. Feeling no change after taking GABA is a good sign your blood brain barrier is intact. GABA should produce no symptoms, as GABA “bounces off” a healthy blood-brain barrier.
Taming brain inflammation
The most important steps to reducing brain inflammation are to address food intolerances, blood sugar imbalances, gut infections and inflammation, unmanaged autoimmune disease, poor brain oxygen action, chronic stress, hormonal imbalances and deficiencies, and more. While addressing these factors you can use flavonoids that have been shown to dampen the microglia cell and brain inflammation. They include:
Source: Book "Why Isn't My Brain Working"