I know it’s been a while since I’ve written an article. One of the main reasons is because I just began taking a 3-year post-doctoral, functional neurology program. I’m learning a plethora of information on how to accurately diagnose and treat complex and simple conditions as they relate to the brain and nervous system. The brain and nervous system are two of the most important areas of the body that need to function well for optimal health and reversing health conditions. In this article, I’ll discuss four, simple and basic ways you can help improve your brain function.
The brain and nervous system are extremely complex and require precision in diagnosis and treatment approaches. Brain health is absolutely critical in so many different areas of your overall functioning. The brain is responsible for, but not limited to the following: memory, attention, focus, pain-management, joint stability, muscle firing, sensation discrimination, coordination, pleasure, mood, digestion, hormonal balance, immune system responsivity, and more. Before explaining ways (in future articles) to identify and help specific brain-related conditions, four basic factors need to be addressed and dealt with first. This is because there are four foundational health basics when attempting to help the brain in any way.
Neurons, the cells of the nervous system, require oxygen to function optimally. This means, something as simple as exercise can help the brain. Exercise will help increase circulation which allows for the delivery of more oxygen to tissues and cells. Also, deep, diaphragmatic breathing will help increase oxygenation of your body. And, realize that certain conditions, like anemia, need to be addressed and corrected. This is because any detrimental alteration in red blood cell function (i.e.: anemia) will adversely affect the amount of oxygen available to your body and brain. Anemia MUST be dealt with for proper oxygenation. Additionally, anyone with a cardiac or pulmonary condition may need to seek treatment for the health of their heart and lungs to achieve optimal oxygenation.
The main source of fuel or energy for the brain is glucose, a.k.a. sugar. Therefore, properly managed blood sugar is critical for brain health. Blood sugar imbalances, whether high, low or spikes of alternating high and low blood sugar will adversely affect brain health. I’ve written many articles on ways to manage healthy blood sugar levels. Generally, diet is the main reason people have imbalanced blood sugar. However, the ways to control blood sugar can vary between individuals. Some people need to eat more frequently, some less. Some people need more carbohydrates, some less. This is something that needs to be determined for you specifically. But a healthy, whole-food diet is one place to start. Also, stress hormones are critical in regulating blood sugar, so proper stress-management is a must.
Calming down an overly active inflammatory response is critical for the health of neurons. One of the best ways to do this is by simply supplementing with antioxidants. There is plenty of research showing that antioxidants can help reduce inflammation, and thus, help the brain function better. Antioxidants are nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E; selenium; glutathione; alpha lipoic acid; grape seed extract; green tea; turmeric; and resveratrol to name a few. However, even though antioxidants can help, it’s critical to identify any reasons for the inflammation to begin with. Common causes of an active inflammatory process include food sensitivities, infections, digestive health imbalances, toxin exposure and more. If you have no concerns over “hidden” inflammatory triggers, taking antioxidants can be seen as preventive.
“Use it or lose it” applies to many areas of life. Neurons certainly abide by this concept, as well. In order to have healthy neurons and brain cells, you must use or activate them. Just like exercising a muscle, you must “exercise” neurons in order to maintain and increase their function. So, for example, if you wanted to increase your memory, you would do tasks or exercises that require recalling events, numbers, images, etc.. If you want to help the parts of the brain involved in motor activity, you’d want to incorporate certain exercises related to movement. The type of activity that will help a person best is highly individualistic based on which area(s) of the brain need the most help. Generally speaking, it’s helpful to do exercises that are normally difficult for you to do. Something as “simple” as balancing on one foot could be a great way to activate your brain in a healthy way. This needs to be determined by a professional who is competent in diagnosing which areas of the brain need the most activation, and at what frequency and duration. Too much activation can damage neurons and brain cells, just as too little activation can lead to a loss of cell function.
I am confident that this information will begin to help you better understand how to maintain and/or create better brain health. And I look forward to helping my patients on this journey to improving their brain function!
Dr. Rob D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Diplomate and board-certified teacher of the International College of Applied Kinesiology – Member of the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation – Associates Degree in Homeopathy from the British Institute of Homeopathy