Healthy Fats

Posted November 28th, 2013 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Fats, Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

Fat is essential for the proper function of the body, it is an integral part of every cell membrane, regulates the immune system, reduces inflammation, and vitamins A, C, E, and K require fat to be properly absorbed in the body. Deficiencies in these vitamins are linked to malabsorption, bone density issues, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome. Here’s a brief overview of the different fats, and healthy food sources.

Essential fats – omega-3 and omega-6 – These fats are not produced by the human body and must be acquired from the diet. They promote cardiovascular health, keep cell membranes fluid, lubricate joints and skin, boost metabolism, nourish the nervous and immune systems and help keep hormones in balance.

Food sources: mechanically cold-pressed chia seed, flax seed, hemp seed oils, algae, fish, krill and walnut oils; almond, black currant seed, borage seed, evening primrose seed, pumpkin seed, safflower seed, sesame seed and sunflower seed oils. Once you open the bottle, they need to be consumed rapidly – store in refrigerator.

Monounsaturated fats – important for the healthy function of the brain and all cell-membranes, and reducing reduce inflammation. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

Food sources: avocados, cold-pressed avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, grape seed oils, nut oils.

Saturated fats – make up 50% of your body’s cell membranes, bones require saturated fat to properly assimilate calcium, your lungs and heart use saturated fat for nourishment and proper function.  Additionally, saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristeric acid and lauric acid), play a large role in immune health.

The brain is made up of fats and cholesterol, mainly saturated fat. A diet low in saturated fats deprives the brain of the building blocks it needs for proper repair and function. Saturated fats are also needed for nerve communication; they function directly as signaling messengers and influence the metabolism.

Food sources: Organic butter and ghee (clarified butter), cheese, grass-fed meat, free-range eggs and poultry, coconut oil and palm oil.

Cholesterol – 1/5th of the brain’s weight is cholesterol, it makes up much of the myelin sheath, facilitates brain communication and function, is a powerful brain antioxidant and is a precursor to steroid hormones and Vitamin D.

Food sources: Grass-fed meats, free-range poultry and eggs.

Fats to avoid – Refined, processed, chemically extracted, bleached, damaged, and hydrogenated oils are toxic to every cell of the body. Margarine and processed or genetically modified products such as vegetable oil, cottonseed oil soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and any hydrogenated oils should always be avoided. These fats are anti-nutritive, denatured, highly processed, pesticide and solvent laden, rancid, and refined. Of course, we all now know about the dangers of trans fats so avoid all fats that have hydrogenation listed on the label. NO AMOUNT OF TRANS FATS is safe to consume.

Guide to Cooking with Fat

As a rule of thumb, if the predominant classification of an oil or fat is polyunsaturated, then we should never cook with it – regardless of its smoke point. Lipid oxidation and free-radical production quickly takes place when these types of fatty acids are exposed to any degree of heat – even very low heat. This is a big red flag for producing inflammation and irritation within our bodies.

Heat (above 350°F): saturated fats and cholesterol – lard from animal fat, butter, ghee, coconut oil

Low to medium heat (moderately stable oils): extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil. When cooking with these oils, use broth or water to keep the temperature down and stop them from overheating.

Not to be heated (very unstable oils): nut and seed oils (including grape seed oil) , camelina oil – delicious drizzled over salads, fruit, and steamed vegetables topped with some lightly toasted nuts and seeds. They are delicate and easily damaged by heat, light, oxygen, and moisture, so refrigerate in a tightly sealed, opaque bottle. Look for cold-pressed, unrefined versions only.

Additionally, therapeutic oils such as cod liver, fish liver, borage, black currant oil, and evening primrose should NEVER be used for cooking.

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Dr Kristin Willeumier PhD: IFV-TV Panel Discussion on Concussion

Posted November 17th, 2012 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Depression by Rebecca Lane

Today Rebecca and I watched an amazing video presentation by Dr. Kristin Willeumier, Ph.D, a neurobiologist and Director of Research at the Dr. Daniel Amen Clinics. Dr. Willeumier and Dr. Amen bring a very uplifting message: people CAN rehabilitate brain function IF they follow a regimented recovery plan… even if the brain injury occurred many years ago. Please get the word out by tweeting and sharing both the video and slide share. Many thanks!


Slide Share

SUMMARY: DR DANIEL AMEN BRAIN REHAB PROGRAM PROTOCOL FOR CONCUSSION

BRAIN RECOVERY PLAN: PART A STOP HURTING YOUR BRAIN
Avoid:
Brain injuries, High blood pressure, Drugs, Diabetes, Alcohol, High sugar diets, Obesity, Environmental toxins, Sleep apnea, Chronic stress, Smoking, Lack of exercise.

BRAIN RECOVERY PLAN: PART B START HELPING THE BRAIN
Enhance:
Social connections, Green tea, New learning, Exercise, Great diet (whole foods nothing processed), Coordination exercises, Calorie restriction, Gratitude (strengthens cerebellum and frontal cortex areas), Omega 3s, Meditation, Supplements, Vitamin D 3, Healthy sleep (deep REM sleep, 7-8 hours a night).

NUTRIENTS:
• High potency multi-vitamin daily
• Omega 3 – 5.6 grams High Potency Pure Fish oil per day. Reduces inflammation in body, expands blood vessels, and improves blood flow to the brain. Lowered inflammation in body means improved weight loss.
• Dr Amen’s Brain Boost Formula – vinpoticine, ginko biloba (both to improve blood flow to brain), Phosphatidylserine (helps rebuild cell membranes), huperzine A (boosts memory), Acetyl-l-carnitine, N-acetylcysteine , alpha-lipoic acid (both are potent antioxidants which protect neurons).
• Additional notes on nutrients: vitamin D3 (responsible for many metabolic actions in body), green tea extract helps protect the ends of your DNA.

LIFESTYLE:
Address individual player needs, such as treating depression, anxiety, alcoholism, ADD, dementia or using Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBOT).

Weight loss for obese players – If you are overweight, get lean as this is extremely important for recovery. A large body equals a small brain (dinosaur syndrome). Carrying extra fat puts stress on your body coordination, as well as raises your level of inflammation.

Healthy Diet – nothing packaged. Whole foods diet only. Low-glycemic diet is in line with keeping inflammation in the body low and preventing metabolic syndrome.

Calorie Restriction – Aim for a nutrient dense, low calorie diet of 1800 to 2000 calories a day. Low calorie intake also means less free radical damage from metabolizing food, and this translates into longevity for you.

Sleep – if you have sleep apnea, have it addressed with an oxygen device, or through some other method (i.e., weight loss). Sleep apnea is very common with concussion.

AVOID:

High blood sugar and Diabetes – Sugar is inflammatory and damages your brain and tissues. Make smart choices around food, diet and lifestyle. Alcohol is processed into sugar in your body.

High blood pressure – high pressure in your vein means less oxygen to your brain. It also means damage to your veins (including the ones in your brain).

Exposure to environmental toxins or molds – these toxins create neurotoxins and stress in your body, leading to accelerated brain degeneration.

Chronic stress – stress hormones such as cortisol raise your levels of inflammation and help you to put weight on. If you are experiencing personal, marital or family stress, address it through counselling and support early on.

THINGS TO DO TO SUPPORT BRAIN RECOVERY:

Exercise – Daily exercise boosts the feel-good hormone ‘serotonin’, which addresses prevention of depression. Exercise also improves blood flow to the brain.

Coordination Exercises – The cerebellum at the back of the brain houses 50% of the brain’s neurons yet makes important connections to the frontal lobes (executive area responsible for judgement, focus, and impulse control). Exercising the back of the brain actually helps to strengthen the front of the brain. Tips: play tennis, table-tennis, Tai Chi, yoga, juggling, so gym exercises. (Can also dance and swim).

Brain Learning Games/New Learning – enhances the ability of your brain to make new neural connections.

Hyperbaric Oxygen – increases vasculature in the brain. This is especially good for people who have experienced significant brain injury.

Main takeaway points: Boost acetylcholine to the brain, use brain-enhancing nutrients (see below), boost coordination exercises, achieve and remain normal weight, avoid inflammatory toxins, substances (no more than 2 servings of alcohol per week, no sugar, avoid marijuana and recreational drugs, get at 7-8 hours of sleep, exercise daily, limit daily calories to between 1700 and 2000 a day to help keep free-radical formation low, and to enhance longevity).

Finally,
Practice Gratitude and Meditation: performing these activities help to keep your brain from shrinking and help strengthen the cerebellum and frontal lobes.

DR WILLEUMIER’S SLIDE SHARE NOTES:
• 1. Amen Clinic NFL Brain Imaging Brain Rehab Study.
• 2. Our NFL Story Started in 1991. In 1991, brain SPECT imaging work. Brain injuries greater part of psychiatric problems than most people knew. Saw many high school and college football players with brain injuries on scans who had troubled behavior.
• 3. Middle Linebacker UC, Berkeley Arrested for Domestic Violence Healthy College Player.
• 4. ESPN Highlights and Arrests. As a fan I watched highlights. Then who was arrested that day. Thought there must be serious brain damage among many active and retired players.
• 5. Just imagine someone like Ron Yary hitting you 30 -50 times a game.
• 6. NFL Position On Brain Trauma Started Committee on MTBI in 1994, “Said they didn’t know if football caused long term brain damage, more studies needed.” Curiously, had the same position in 2009?? NFL acting like many employers with worker’s compensation claims – delay, deny, and blame the employee … steroids, alcohol, laziness.
• 7. The Problem with the NFL Position. IF YOU DON’T ADMIT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM, YOU CANNOT DO ANYTHING TO SOLVE IT. Many, many brain damaged retired players are currently left without help or hope.
• 8. 2000 Brent Boyd Minnesota Vikings Offensive Guard 6 Seasons.
• 9. Brent Came to see us for: Headaches, Depression, Fatigue, Memory Problems, Dizziness. He was also overweight.
• 10. Clear Evidence of Serious Brain Trauma Healthy BB.
• 11. NFL Hired Doctor’s. Scans mean nothing. They say his problems not work-related. Deny his claim. Brent gets traumatized twice: once by his brain injuries, and again by being called a liar or a faker.
• 12. 2007 Anthony Davis College Football Hall of Fame Running Back from USC and NFL Player.
• 13. Healthy At age 54, brain looked 85.
• 14. Before Treatment After Treatment.
• 15. Los Angeles Chapter NFLPA• AD Invites me to speak February 2009• Meet many players who clearly needed help• Someone has to answer question, “Does playing football in the NFL cause brain damage?”• Team up with Reggie Berry, Marvin Smith and Dr. Joe Wu to design our study• LA Chapter helps us recruit our first players.
• 16. Where To Get The Money?• First arm of study paid for by me (Dr Amen) personally to insure independence• Total cost is about $5,000 a player• Most of researchers who helped volunteered their time.
• 17. Study Design• Brain SPECT imaging (blood flow)• Conners’ CPT (Continuous Performance Test)• QEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalography)• MCIS (Mild Cognitive Impairment Screen)• Microcog (Measures 9 different cognitive scales).
• 18. Current Status of Our Study• 115 Active and Retired Players• From 27 teams• All positions• Ages 25 – 85.
• 19. Reported Number of Concussions• 0 = 14%• 1-2 = 24%• 3-5 = 19%• > 5 = 43%.
• 20. Important Numbers• Obese = 48% • Microcog = below• Sleep apnea = 30% average in all• Depression = 28% categories except• Dementia = 19% spatial processing and reaction time• CPT = 81% abnormal.
• 21. Outcomes• > 90% had brain trauma pattern on brain SPECT and QEEGs• Severe decreased activity … across whole brain• Results are HIGHLY STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT!
• 22. Damage Seen Across Whole Brain.
• 23. •Confirmation Number: 82635741 Damage Seen Across Whole Brain.
• 24. 20 Year Player Damage across whole brain.
• 25. Offensive Lineman 12 yr NFL.
• 26. Running Back 4 yr NFL.
• 27. Defensive Back 3 yr NFL.
• 28. Linebacker 10 yr NFL.
• 29. Wide Receiver 8 yr NFL
• 30. Tight End 8 yr NFL.
• 31. Quarterback 18 yr NFL.
• 32. Damage Seen Especially In Prefrontal, Temporal and Cerebellar Regions – judgment, focus, and impulse control memory, learning, emotion & moods physical coordination and thought coordination
• 33. Brain Rehab Program• Damage so high, we added a “pragmatic” rehab component• Brain healthy strategies • weight loss for obese players • coordination exercises • healthy diet • recommended sleep apnea evaluations • avoid toxic substances (drugs, much alcohol).
• 34. Brain Rehab Program• High potency multiple vitamin• Omega 3 supplement, 5.6 grams a day• Brain and Memory Power Boost Formula – vinpocitine, gingko, PS, huperzine A, acetyl-l- carnitine, n-acetylcysteine, alpha lipoic acid• Other recommendations for individual player needs, such as treating depression, anxiety, alcoholism, ADD, dementia or using HBOT.
• 35. Preliminary Results• 30 players with follow up scans/cognitive tests• 25 showed improvement• Especially in: • Memory (69%) • Attention (53%) • Mood (38%) • Motivation (38%) • Sleep (25%).
• 36. MicroCog Before After p value #> 50% betterGeneral cognitive 31.8 (24.1) 43.4 (25.7) <0.000 14 functioningGeneral cognitive 24.7 (20.1) 35.2 (23.5) 100%+• Attention 21 25 2%• Reasoning 3 13 > 400%+• Memory 14 66 > 470%+.
• 39. “Little” Ed White.
• 40. John Hauser (74) Before After %• General Cognitive Fun. 19 42 121%+• Information Processing 55 90 64%+• Attention 12 58 383%+• Reasoning 39 50 28%+• Memory 23 39 70%+.
• 41. Gern Nagler (77) Before After %• General Cognitive Fun. 63 77 22%+• Information Processing 42 70 66%+• Attention 45 73 62%+• Reasoning 75 75 0%• Memory 50 86 72%+.
• 42. Tight End 8 yr NFL Before After 8 mos.
• 43. Tight End 10 yr NFL Before After 18 months.
• 44. Offensive Tackle 12 yr NFL Before After 18 months.
• 45. Defensive Tackle 2 yr NFL Our interventions plus 40 Sessions of HBOT.
• 46. Conclusions• Based on our sample, playing football in the NFL puts players at risk for brain damage & long-term cognitive and mood problems• Preliminarily: The brain has potential to improve with a comprehensive rehab program• More studies immediately needed to evaluate components of our study and other interventions such as HBOT, neurofeedback, and meds such as memantine and modafinil.
• 47. Conclusions• General brain health principles should be taught to all active and former players• More intense brain rehab offered to current and former players• Targeted supplements, such as omega 3s and the ones we used• Start using brain imaging tools, like SPECT and QEEG on any player with a concussion.
• 48. Conclusions• Implications go beyond NFL to: • High school and college athletes • Military personnel (15% of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have brain injuries) • 2 million people each year who acquire brain injuries.
• 49. NFL/Amen Clinics Collaboration?• We have a great cohort for a long term study• We have a waiting list of dozens of players and could easily recruit hundreds more, players trust us• We could add DTI and genetic markers• Help us on design better studies• Help us find funding to continue our work.
• 50. If I Was The Commissioner• Be an advocate and a leader for brain health among football players, stop the bad press with genuine care and concern• Invest in unbiased studies, with researchers who have a sense of urgency• Evaluate all players coming into the league to establish baseline level of brain function.
• 51. If I Was The Commissioner• Treat concussions early and effectively• Work to identify retired players who are troubled and get them the help they need• It will be less expensive in the long run• Lawyers and legal battles are very expensive.
• 52. BRAIN RECOVERY PLAN: PART A STOP HURTING YOUR BRAIN Brain injuries  High blood pressure Drugs  Diabetes Alcohol  High sugar diets Obesity  Environmental toxins Sleep apnea  Chronic stress Smoking  Lack of exercise.
• 53. BRAIN RECOVERY PLAN: PART B START HELPING THE BRAIN Social connections  Green tea New learning  Exercise Great diet  Coordination Calorie restriction  Gratitude Omega 3s  Meditation Supplements, Vit D  Healthy sleep.
• 54. With Gratitude to all of our players, Los Angeles Chapter of the Retired NFLPA, especially Reggie Berry and Marvin Smith, Independent Football Veterans Conference, with special thanks to Dave Pear and Robert Lee.
• 55. With Gratitude to Our Research Team Most Have Donated Their Time, Kristen Willeumier, PhD, Amen Clinics, Joe Wu, MD, UC, Irvine Andrew Newberg, MD, Univ of Pennsylvania, Robert Thatcher, PhD, Applied Neuroscience, Yi Jin, MD, NeoSync Technologies Jim Fallon, PhD, UC, Irvine.
• 56. Daniel G. Amen, MDdocamen@amenclinics.com 949-266-3749
• 57. Fred McNeill on the cover of GQ

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Nourishing the Mind

Posted November 17th, 2012 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Depression by Rebecca Lane

Late in October, Rebecca was asked to give a lecture at the Aurora Leisure Centre about Nourishing the Mind. Below is the pdf of the PowerPoint presentation for your information, as well as the key summary points and two brain-friendly recipes for you to try.

The presentation (as a pdf file): Nourishing the Mind Presentation

NOURISHING THE MIND SUMMARY

  • Complex carbohydrates – 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, eat with protein and fibre, green drinks with flax (see recipe below), add black beans or kidney beans to any recipes asking for ground beef and half the meat.
  • Essential fatty acids – fish 2-3 times per week (mercury-free, PCB-free coldwater fish such as Atlantic salmon, cod, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies), nuts and seeds, flax oil – good quality fish oil supplement – use oils for salad dressing, not to be heated.
  • Phospholipids – choline from eggs, organ meat and lecithin, brain booster supplement include phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylserine (PS) and/or choline. DMAE not available for sale in Canada.
  • Amino acids – 2-3 servings of good quality, animal and vegetable protein per day
  • Vitamins and Minerals – 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruits per day (heard this before?), multivitamin and mineral supplement with at least 25 mg of B complex, 10 mcg of B12, 100 mcg of folic acid, 200 mg of magnesium, 3 mg of manganese, 10 mg of zinc. (Source: Patrick Holford, New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind)
  • Water – urine should be straw-coloured – about 1 – 1.5 litres/day but varies depending on activity, altitude and heat
  • Keep brain active – learn, create, laugh, move

GREEN POWER SMOOTHIE

½ cup papaya juice
1 banana
1 cup frozen berries (blueberries are my favourite)
½ cup grated beet
1 large handful spinach or other greens like kale
1 tsp spirulina (marine algae)
2 tbsp flax
Water to desired consistency

Put all ingredients except flax into blender. Blend until smooth. Add flax and blend to mix. You could also add a scoop of protein powder to make this even more powerful!

CHICKPEA CURRY WITH APPLES AND RAISINS

2 tsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tbsp spelt flour
1 cup water
2/3 cup diced red pepper
2/3 cup diced yellow pepper
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced butternut squash
1 19oz can chickpeas,
½ cup vegetable broth
1 apple, unpeeled and diced
½ cup raisins (or dates)

In large skillet over medium heat, melt oil and add onions, sauté until soft. Stir in curry powder and sprinkle with 1 tbsp flour. Add water stirring constantly. Add vegetables and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add water as needed. Add chickpeas, apple, raisins and broth. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve over coconut rice.

COCONUT RICE

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp sea salt

Sauté above ingredients in a large pot with lid for about 5 min, then add the ingredients below:

1 ¾ cups brown basmati rice
15 oz. can coconut milk
2 cups water
½ tsp grated lime zest

Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 15-20 min.

Note on oils: Extra virgin olive oil is a polyunsaturated fat and cannot be heated higher than 350 degrees Fahrenhuit; neither can any of the oils of EFAs. When cooking with heat, use either ghee, butter or coconut oil.

Dr Daniel Amen on TEDxOrangeCoast – Change your Brain, Change your Life

Posted November 17th, 2012 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Depression by Rebecca Lane

Here are our notes from Dr Amen’s lectures:

Pre-frontal cortex – makes up 30% of the human brain

  • Executive function
  • Focus, forethought, judgement, empathy, learning from mistakes
  • Problems:
    • Impulse control problems
    • Not much empathy
    • Short attention span
    • Procrastinate
    • Don’t learn from mistakes
  • Low activity shows up in:
    • Smoking
    • Internet gambling
    • ADD (looking for stimulation)
    • Weak conscience
    • Low persistence
    • Low energy, depression
  • Suggestions for helping:
    • Write out goals – emotional, health, relationships, work, money, physical
    • Exercise – intense aerobic exercise
    • Diet – high protein, low carb diet
    • Fish oil – will increase energy and concentration
    • Need to boost dopamine levels – green tea, L-tyrosine, Rhodiola

Cingulate Gyrus

  • Brain gear shifter, go from idea to idea – flexible
  • See options, helps you to cooperate
  • Error detection
  • Problems:
    • Works too hard
    • Deficit in serotonin
    • People get stuck on a worry or obsession, hold grudge, compulsions, addictions
    • Always fault-finding, micro-managers, rigid and inflexible, oppositional
    • Looks on the surface to be selfish and inflexible
  • Suggestions for help:
    • Distract yourself – move when you see yourself stuck on a thought
    • Offer them options so they don’t feel trapped
    • Gratitude – 5 things I’m grateful for today
    • Diet – high carb, low protein
    • Boost serotonin with 5-HTP, L-tryptophan, St. John’s Wort, Saffron, a little Dark Chocolate
    • Exercise – aerobic + coordination, e.g., dance

Limbic System – deep in brain

  • Emotional brain, mood
  • Sets the emotional tone – positive or negative
  • Bonding, connection
  • Processes pain, smell, libido
  • Problems:
    • If works too hard, feel sad, depressed, negative, hopeless, helpless
    • ANT – automatic negative thoughts – have to correct and remove ANTs
    • Tend to isolate themselves
    • Less interested in things that are fun, have a lot of pain
  • Suggestions for help:
    • SAMe for depression and pain
    • Exercise 4 x per week at least
    • Fish oil – omega-3
    • Write it out – talk back to the distorted fact – is it true?

Prescriptions to make your Brain Great

Protect

  • Head injuries can ruin your life
  • Avoid toxic substances: alcohol, drugs, toxic fumes, medicines
  • Sleep – more than 6 hours per night
  • Brain diet – lean protein, complex carbs (green leafy vegetables), good fat (omega-3, fish, avocados, walnuts)
  • Water
  • Multivitamin/mineral supplement
  • Fish oil supplement 1-2 grams/day (or flax seed oil for vegetarians)

Best food choices for the brain

    1. Avocados
    2. Bueberries
    3. broccoli (folate)
    4. green tea (theonine)
    5. oatmeal
    6. oranges
    7. red bell peppers
    8. salmon
    9. spinach (B vitamins)
    10. tuna
    11. turkey
    12. walnuts (omega -3)

Eat from the rainbow – increase amount of antioxidants by eating from every colour.

Work your Brain

  • helps your brain make connections
  • learn things that are new and different – 15 minutes / day – Lumosity.com, TEDx videos
  • exercise – boosts blood flow, BDNF (grow new neurons), Serotonin – especially aerobic combined with coordination (e.g., dancing) – more than 2 times/week

Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Risk factors – head injury, untreated ADD, depression, heart disease, genetics, drink too much alcohol, obesity, smoking, diabetes
  • Need to get diagnosed early – Brain SPECT imaging can see 5 years before dementia starts to show – loss of smell identification (loss of strawberry, pineapple, lemon, natural gas)

The following enhance brain health:

  • + social connections
  • New learning
  • Great diet
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Physical healthy
  • Healthy anxiety (helps get things done)
  • Meditation
  • Gratitude
  • ANT killing

At 25 (males 28) the brain finishes developing

Also suggest visiting Dr. Mercola’s interview with Dr. Amen at: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/28/psychiatry-needs-spect-imaging.aspx

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TEDx Talk with Joe Dispenza – The Three Brains that Allow us to go from Thinking to Doing to Being

Posted November 17th, 2012 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Depression by Rebecca Lane

Yesterday, Helen and I came across this video on TED Talks and were enthralled not only with what Joe Dispenza was discussing, but with the fabulous images he shared of a neuron creating new connections. We hope that you find it as fascinating as we did. Included below are our notes made while watching the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCxo9GwbP_8&feature=relmfu

[Helen (www.insightfulnutrition.ca) and I watched this video last week, but today it has been removed from YouTube. There are several other videos available from Joe Dispenza, and we encourage you to learn from him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMN_Sd9qdIE]

1.Neo-Cortex – newest, most evolved part of brain; highly specialized

2.Limbic – also known as the mammalian brain – internal chemical brain which regulates internal chemical orders

3.Cerebellum – reptilian brain – seat of subconscious mind – oldest part of brain

  • Each of these brains has their own anatomy and circuitry, own individual biocomputer, own physiology and chemistry, own history, own sense of time and space
  • In the brain, neurons store and communicate information between and among each other
  • Neo-cortex – seat of conscious awareness, loves to gather information
  • Learning > new information leads directly to new connections – actual physical change to the brain
  • New information is biologically wired into cerebral architecture
  • Remembering > maintaining the connections – the more you communicate the more bonded you become – start to form neuro networks which are fired and wired together to create a neuro community
  • Mind is the brain in action – experience enriches your brain neurologically (more connections); then it produces a chemical that is called a feeling or emotion; this chemical is released by the limbic brain; this allows you to remember this experience
  • Routine lulls the brain to sleep – stress can cause you to make immediate connections (eg, memories of 9-11)
  • Your body is your unconscious mind, it does not know the difference between the actual experience in reality that produces the emotion and the emotion that you fabricate by thought alone
  • Limbic brain produces neurochemicals
  • Stress response – when you can’t turn it off, you’re heading for disease
  • Pay attention to how you are feeling – called metacognition > observe who we are being (like observing yourself from outside yourself)
  • Metacognition allows us the ability to modify our behaviours and change how we react/do a better job
  • Frontal lobe – seat of our awareness – home of the you and the me
  • As you think of who you want to be, the frontal lobe acts like a volume control and begins to lower the volume on the circuits in the brain that are connected to the old self
  • It begins to silence the old circuits – this allows you to observe and no longer participate
  • Next step is to biologically break down the old connections so no longer biologically connected to the old self
  • Changes to neural connections can be made with persistence and amplitude
  • BDNF – growth factor – goes from the neuron back across the synaptic cleft – can actually steel from neighbouring, weaker connections
  • Allows old memories to lose their strength – so you can actually prune away old memories / old self
  • Can happen in moments!
  • Knowledge > happens in the mind – Experience > happens in the body
  • Limbic mind makes a new batch of chemicals – instructing the body chemically
  • Repeated exposure to a new thought makes it become real – to point where you no longer have to think about it
  • In the example, neurochemically conditioned the body to memorize compassion as well as the conscious mind
  • Mind and body activate the cerebellum – the seat of the subconscious mind – so that compassion becomes a habit, then a state of being!

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Can You Eat to Reverse Multiple Sclerosis? #concussion

Posted March 25th, 2012 in Concussion Nutrition, Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

Reprinted with permission of Helen Papaconstantinos from www.insightfulnutrition.ca. I have included it here because of the brain supporting healing benefits of the nutritional support suggested here by Dr. Terry Wahls.

 

If you have a loved one with multiple sclerosis[1], (as I do), you’ll love what this next post is about. It features the inspiring story of Dr. Terry Wahls[2], who reversed her multiple sclerosis after seven years of deterioration — simply by changing her diet. That she did it within 8 months and went on to complete an 18 mile bicycle tour is nothing short of miraculous.  No drug has ever been able to claim the same results. Coming across her story late last year was the best Christmas present ever.

Dr. Wahls is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, where she teaches, and does rounds in a traumatic brain injury clinic. This conventional medical doctor had the courage to step outside the medical paradigm and persisted until she found a way to literally get out of her chair. Initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2000, she went the conventional route and was taking chemotherapy drugs and other immune suppressants in an attempt to slow the disease.

By 2003, Dr Wahls transitioned to ‘Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis’ (the more advanced form), and had to begin using a tilt-recline wheelchair because of weakness in her back muscles. In MS, the immune system becomes sensitized to and attacks proteins in the myelin sheath that protects the axons of the central nervous system.[3]

Like anyone with a degenerative condition, she wanted to forestall further deterioration as long as possible. Because of her medical training, Dr. Wahls knew that research in animal models of disease is often 20 or 30 years ahead of clinical practice.  She stayed up late each night to scour through peer-reviewed research on www.PubMed.gov and read the latest articles on multiple sclerosis research.

She knew that most of the studies were testing drugs which would take years for FDA approval so turned instead to the research on vitamins and supplements important to mitochondrial and brain health. As she continued to research late into the nights, she came across studies showing that over time, the brains of MS patients tended to shrink. This spiked her curiosity and led her to research other diseases that share similar brain shrinkage, namely Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) caused by multiple concussions to the brain).

One thing that was common to all these degenerative conditions was poorly functioning mitochondria.  Mitochondria are like little ‘batteries’ in your cells that manage the energy supply to the cell.  If you forget to feed them the correct foods or nutrients, your cells wither and die.  Muscles shrink, brain volume drops. All the other cells in the body are also compromised.

Getting Better but not Quite There

In doing her research, Dr, Wahls discovered that three nutrients in particular are essential for proper mitochondrial function: 1) animal-based omega-3 fats; 2) Creatine (a compound that is involved in the production of energy in the body); and 3) Coenzyme Q10 – preferably in the ‘reduced’, best-absorbed version known as Ubiquinol. After taking these supplements, her decline slowed somewhat but she was still in a state of declining health.

The Big Change – Getting Nutrients from food

By the fall of 2007, Wahls had an important ‘aha’ moment. She wondered what would happen if she changed her diet so that she was getting these important brain nutrients not from supplements, but from the foods she was eating.  Dr. Wahls wanted to eat all the foods that helped to make myelin – notably B1 (Thiamine), B9 (Folate) and B12 (Cobalamin). For her mitochondria to thrive at their peak efficiency she needed B vitamins, sulphur and antioxidants.

To accomplish all of this, she adapted a standard hunter-gatherer diet (basically eating what a caveman would eat) included roots, seeds, nuts, oily fish, grass-fed meats, organ meats and natural iodine from sea weeds. Iodine is good for many things including myelin repair.  She also ate 9 cups of non-starchy vegetables and berries each day (3 cups each of greens, sulphur-containing vegetables, and colourful vegetables).  

In case you are wondering, sulphurous vegetables include kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, onions, chives, leeks, mushrooms, asparagus, etc. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes or grains such as rice were not eaten unless her 9 cups of other vegetables were eaten first.  Tips on eating ‘the Wahls way’ can be found on her website: http://www.terrywahls.com/eating-the-wahls-way?EID=18923451&CID=3395727 You can also purchase Wahl’s  book, Minding my Mitochondria, to find not only research but recipe and menu suggestions.

She called this way of eating ‘Intensive Directed Nutrition’ and it is easy to see why. She soon found she had more energy and felt better. Within 3 months she was able to get out of her wheelchair and walk down the halls at work using one cane. Later, by adding exercise and other therapies she progressively got better.  

Why Cruciferous Vegetables and Sulphur?

Sulphur is responsible for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the human body. Together with antioxidants, sulphur helps the mitochondria to survive. By weight, sulphur is one of the most abundant minerals in the body – the average person contains about 140 grams of it at any one time. Sulphurous vegetables also help with creation of a potent antioxidant – glutathione – which could help prevent further damage to neurotransmitters. Sulfur is also necessary for the synthesis of Taurine, an amino acid needed for proper functioning of the muscles and central nervous system.  

Foods to Avoid

The diet of the typical North American is so poor in nutrients that they do not have the building blocks to feed the mitochondria or to make/repair myelin, a protective covering on nerves that becomes destroyed over time in people with multiple sclerosis.  

It is very important to remove from the diet all refined or pre-packaged foods and Omega 6 oils and fats. You find Omega 6 fatty acids in corn fed meat, corn oil, safflower and vegetable oils, soybean oil, margarines and fried foods. That does not mean that one must remove all fats and oils from the diet however. ‘Healthy fats’ such as fish oils, flax seed oils and extra-virgin coconut and olive oils are encouraged.  

Anything inflammatory and processed must be removed – so no sugar, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, allergens, dairy (including raw dairy), grains, or legumes, including soy beans.  Dairy, grains and legumes, especially, are implicated in auto-immune reactions for people with MS.[4]  Small amounts of high-antioxidant raw cacao beans, and raw honey are allowed occasionally.  Those who cannot manage going grain-free are encouraged to try going gluten-free first, but faster results are expected when the guidelines are strictly followed.

MS and Eggs

Organic, free-range, antibiotic-free eggs (if tolerated), are recommended because they contain choline – which together with inositol – is critical for myelin sheath repair. Synergistically they work to create natural lecithin in the body. Making it this way means that one does not have to rely on soy-derived lecithin.  

Generally, people with autoimmune diseases should not have egg whites due to a problematic protein in the egg white called ‘lysozyme’. Usually it is harmless, but it can bind with some proteins and inhibit trypsin and prevent it from doing its job to digest protein. Some of its compounds can pass through the gut wall and aggravate damaged guts. Avidin, another substance found in egg whites, binds to a B vitamin called Biotin, which is responsible for fatty acid synthesis and blood sugar regulation.  Even when well-cooked, Avidin continued to inhibit Biotin absorption by about 30 percent.  

So how do you know if you are sensitive to egg whites? One way to find out is to eliminate eggs at first and add them back after a few weeks. They may be eaten if there is no reaction to them. The same thing can be tried with tomatoes and eggplants, which cause joint pain in some people. If you find you cannot get your choline from egg yolks, food sources of choline include beef liver (highest source), chicken and turkey, scallops and shrimp, salmon, collard greens, Swiss chard and cauliflower.[5] You will also find choline in sesame and flax seeds. Inositol is found in high amounts in legumes (not allowed in this diet), however you can find it in high amounts in grapefruits, oranges, mandarin oranges, cantaloupe, rutabaga, blackberries, artichokes, okra, kiwi fruit, and nectarines.

How else can you Rebuild Myelin and prevent its Destruction? The term ‘balanced diet’ is the key.   The myelin sheath is composed of about 75 percent fats and cholesterol and the rest is protein[6]. The first building block needed to make myelin is Omega 3 fatty acid, which you get from pure fish oils, wild fish and grass fed meats.  The 3 cups of greens daily provide B vitamins and folate, which you need for your brain to keep it from shrinking.  (Indeed, many people on this diet report marked clear-thinking and removal of the ‘brain fog’ they had earlier).  

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) helps to get energy into the muscles but it also helps with myelin repair. Organ meats – which traditional societies have always eaten – are recommended once a week to get natural cobalamin or B12 into the body. Organic liver is very good for that. Natural iodine from sea vegetables not only helps with myelin repair but would also aids the liver and brain to clear out mercury and other heavy metals from the body.

Bone broths are also recommended daily because they are full of minerals and help to heal any loose ‘tight junctions’ in the gut, which might be contributing to auto-immune reactions generally. Another way to rebuild lost myelin is to submit the muscles to the ‘stress’ of daily exercise – more on this later.

The Use of Fats and Oils with Multiple Sclerosis Unlike others who suggest drastically reducing saturated fats in an MS diet, Wahls is saying that healthy fats –  from cod liver and salmon fish and oils,  walnuts, chia seeds, ghee from a grass-fed, pastured animal, extra virgin olive and coconut oils … and even lard… are fine.  Ghee, or clarified butter, by the way, has had the milk proteins poured off. Keep in mind that you need trace amounts of copper to activate these healthy fats so that they can go to work repairing the myelin. Food sources of copper include dried oregano and thyme, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.  

Cod liver oil is high in vitamin D. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 found that Vitamin D significantly reduced the risk of demyelination. Wahls believes that Vitamin D should be over 50 ng/ml but under 100 ng/ml to obtain the best benefits – lowered risk for autoimmune disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.  How do you know how much you need to get there? Take a test every 1- 3 months and take 4000 IU vitamin D3 daily, or more if needed.  At levels over 150 there is an increased risk of excessive calcium in the blood, hallucinations, psychosis, and kidney damage.

For some unknown reason, the concentration of oleic acid (a type of healthy saturated omega 9 oil found in olive oil and avocados), is lower in the myelin of people with MS.  Oleic acid promotes the production of antioxidants in the body and slows the development of heart disease.  In other myelin-destroying diseases, oleic acid is used to formulate ‘Lorenzo’s oil’, which helps patients with adrenoleukodystrophy.  

Creation of New Neurons and Synapses plus More Energy

With properly functioning mitochondria, Dr. Wahls hoped that her body would also get maximum energy from glucose, a key factor in reducing or eliminating the fatigue so common with MS.  With more energy you can exercise and do more. She also wanted her diet to be high in antioxidant capacity because that would not only increase protection of her neurons but also increase production of neurotrophic factors – a family of proteins responsible for the growth and maturation of new neurons and synapses.[7]

Antioxidants from spices such as turmeric were also added because of the wealth of animal and human studies showing that its curcumin component helps to prevent oxidative damage.[8] Just how curcumin might work to prevent demyelinization remains unclear, but researchers at Vanderbilt University believe it may be interrupting the production of IL-12, a protein that plays a key role in the destruction of the myelin by signaling for the development of neural antigen-specific Th1 cells, immune cells that then launch an attack on the myelin sheath.[9]

A Synergistic Approach: Hitting MS with many things at once With her intensive daily nutrition foundation in place, Dr Wahls continued to do research into additional supplements that might help to feed the mitochondria. Supplements, she points out, can be helpful, but a nutrient-intense diet must always come first.   There is wisdom in this — brightly coloured vegetables and berries may contain beneficial cofactors and compounds not included in supplements which scientists may not discover or name for years, even though they work.

This is what is referred to in research as ‘efficacy’.  It works because it works, and waiting for ‘evidence-based research’ to prove they work is not always helpful since experience tells you there is little risk in eating vegetables and fruits, together with a myriad of benefits.   Today Dr. Wahls uses 200 mg B complex, 200 mg of Coenzyme Q 10, 1 g of Alpha Lipoic Acid, 600 mg of Acetyl L Carnitine, 120 mg of Gingko, 2 g of N Acetyl Cysteine, 2 g of Taurine, 2 g of Glutathione, 200 mg of Resveratrol, and enough Lithium Orotate to yield 13 mg of elemental lithium, on a daily basis.  

Putting it all together By December 2007 she had combined intensive directed nutrition with a program of progressive exercise, electro-stimulation of muscles[10], and daily exercise.   Daily exercise, even for those who cannot walk, is excellent because any ‘stress’ to the muscle causes the body to produce new myelin and development of new neurological pathways. Exercise also leads to decreased production of inflammatory proteins. Various animal experiments have shown that exercise increases ‘neurotrophins’, a family of proteins induce the survival, development and function of neurons.  

The results stunned her physician, her family, and even herself.  Within a year, she was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even complete an 18-mile bicycle tour. Instead of becoming dependent on others, Wahls regained the ability to commute to work on her bicycle, and to do her rounds on foot without the need for canes or a wheelchair.

Up from the Chair and Helping Others Grateful to have her energy back, Dr. Wahls has spent the last three years researching, lecturing and speaking about her journey to wellness and shares how others may help themselves with intensive directed nutrition.   Dr Wahls now has enough energy left over to start writing up research grants again.  She has brought together an interdisciplinary team to conduct clinical trials using intensive, directed nutrition and neuromuscular electrical stimulation to combat advanced Parkinson’s disease and both secondary and primary progressive multiple sclerosis. 

This time she is conducting a randomized intervention clinical trial on Nutrition and Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation and Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.  You can read about it here: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01381354?term=wahls+sclerosis&rank=1

To help raise awareness and funds for her research and her non-profit foundation, Dr Wahls has recorded many of her public lectures.  Fifty percent of the profits from the sales of the lecture DVDs and audio CDs are used to support clinical nutrition in the area of nutrition, massage, exercise, and neuromuscular stimulation. These resources are available on Dr. Wahl’s website:  http://www.mindingmymitochondria.com/  

In the meantime, here are a few words from Dr. Wahls:  

“There is a lot we can do to restore our health without needing a physician.  Here are ten suggestions for how you can help spread the word.

1. Talk about Minding My Mitochondria on Facebook and Twitter.

2. Tell your friends that you have read this fabulous book that is changing your life.

3. Tell your co-workers the reason you have so much more energy is due to Minding My Mitochondria.

4.  Tell your family that Minding My Mitochondria is changing your life and could change theirs too.

5. Write a review for Amazon.  It is easy.  Just a paragraph, written from the heart, will be fine.

6. Write a review for your local paper.  Or a letter to the editor.

7. Buy the book for a friend or a member of your family whose health you’d like to see improve.

8. Interview Dr. Wahls for your local newsletter, club, or paper.

9. Follow the suggestions Dr. Wahls makes in Minding My Mitochondria.  As you become a healthier, more vibrant you, others will ask what your secret is.

10. When others ask what led to your looking 6 months younger than the last time they saw you, tell them why.  That your mitochondria are healthy again, thanks to Minding My Mitochondria. Be healthier, more vibrant, more energetic.”     


[1] Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, degenerative disease of the nerves in your brain and spinal column, caused through a demyelization process. Myelin is the insulating, waxy substance around the nerves in your central nervous system. When the myelin is damaged by an autoimmune disease or self-destructive process in your body, the function of those nerves deteriorate over time, resulting in a number of symptoms, including:  muscle weakness, imbalance, or loss of coordination, astigmatism and vision loss, and muscle tremors.  
[2] Dr Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Carver’s College of Medicine, where she teaches Internal Medicine. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed scientific abstracts, posters and papers and is currently conducting clinical trials on how a nutrient-intensive diet can help to reverse MS symptoms.  
[3] Research has shown that fragments from foreign proteins (i.e., from infectious agents and foods) can activate myelin-sensitive immune cells through cross-reactions.  Many new foreign proteins were introduced into the human environment by the agricultural revolution, 10,000 to 5000 years ago. Some new proteins have crossed over to humans from domesticated animals (e.g. Epstein Barr virus) and from completely new food types such as dairy, grains and legumes. Humans have been around a lot longer than 5,000 years, and our gut flora has not evolved enough or become sophisticated enough to know what to do with some of these grains and legumes.  
[4] The role of lectins and legumes in MS is interesting. According to Dr Loren Cordain PhD, a top nutrition researcher, lectins from grains, legumes and tomatoes may be involved in activation of the myelin-sensitive T cells.  It has been long known that protein fragments derived from various foods such as milk and from gut bacteria can activate myelin-sensitive T cells through molecular mimicry. For this to happen, however, the foreign protein fragments must get across the intestinal barrier. One possible way for this to happen is by way of disrupted cell junctures or a “leaky gut”. Even if one does not have a ‘leaky gut’, various lectins will still attach themselves to various protein fragments in the gut from foods and gut bacteria and then transport themselves across the intestinal barrier by means of the Epidermal Growth Factor receptor. In this way they act like a “Trojan Horse” by bringing the “enemy” past the protection of the gut wall. Epidermal Growth Factor was discovered by Stanley Cohen of Vanderbilt University along with Rita Levi-Montalcini. Both received the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1986.
[5] See: World’s Healthiest Foods: choline. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=50  
[6] Schmidt, Michael A, PhD., Brain Building Nutrition: How dietary fats and oils affect mental, physical, and emotional Intelligence. Frog Books, Colorado, December 2006.  
[7] In the brain these factors are important for learning, long-term memory as well as regeneration and growth of nerves. Studies suggest these brain-derived factors play a protective role against amyloid beta toxicity – a type of plaque that seems to build up in the brain as we get older.
[8] Natarajan C, Bright JJ. Curcumin inhibits experimental allergic encephalomyelitis by blocking IL-12 signaling through Janus kinase-STAT pathway in T lymphocytes. J Immunol 2002;168;6506-6513. Available at: http://www.jimmunol.org/content/168/12/6506.full.pdf Researchers gave injections of 50- and 100-microgram doses of curcumin, three times per week over a period of 30 days, to a group of mice bred to develop the experimental form of MS known as EAE, and then watched the mice for signs of developing MS-like neurological impairment. By day 15, the mice that did not received curcumin developed EAE to such an extent that they developed complete paralysis of both hind limbs. By contrast, the mice given the 50-microgram dose of the curcumin showed only minor symptoms, such as a temporarily stiff tail. Mice given the 100-microgram dose fared best of all; they appeared completely unimpaired throughout the 30 days of the study.
[9] Natarajan C, Bright JJ. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma agonists inhibit experimental allergic encephalomyelitis by blocking IL-12 production, IL-12 signaling and Th1 differentiation. Genes Immun 2002;3(2):59-70. 2003. Available at: Natarajan C, Bright JJ. Genes Immun. 2002 Apr; 3(2):59-70J Immunol. 2002 Jun 15; 168(12):6506-13. J Immunol. 2002 Jun 15; 168(12):6506-13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11960303.
[10]Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation involves the application of electrodes and electrical input to various muscle groups over the body with goal of strengthening the muscles. The technique was pioneered in the Soviet Union to improve athletic performance and is still commonly used by athletes, especially for healing muscle damage. Today portable NEMS machines are available and it is a do-it-yourself therapy.

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Malnourished Minds: The Link between Nutrition and Depression #concussion

Posted March 25th, 2012 in Concussion Nutrition, Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

Reprinted with permission of Helen Papaconstantinos from www.insightfulnutrition.ca. My reason for including it here is that many of my clients with post-concussive syndrome exhibit severe depression symptoms and this information can support them.

Originally published on October 29, 2011.

Dr. James Greenblatt

Last night at the University of Toronto’s medical sciences auditorium, I attended a lecture entitled, Malnourished Minds: The Link between Nutrition and Depression, presented by Psychiatrist James M. Greenblatt, MD, based on his book, The Breakthrough Depression Solution available through the following on-line book sellers, as well as Dr. Greenblatt’s websites: http://www.comprehensivepsychiatricresources.com and http://www.jamesgreenblattmd.com.

The event was organized through the Canadian Orthomolecular Medicine Society http://www.orthomed.org/csom/csom.html and the International Schizophrenia Foundation http://www.orthomed.org/isf/isfbrochure.html .

Dr Greenblatt is a dually certified child and adult psychiatrist and pioneer in integrative medicine. He is the Founder and Medical Director of Comprehensive Psychiatric Resources (CPR), an integrative medical practice that uses a biologically-based approach to treat mental health disorder such eating disorders, anxiety and mood disorders, ADHD, and depression.

His Integrative Psychiatry approach addresses all of the factors that may incline an individual towards depression – genetics, nutrition deficiencies/excesses, and levels of stress. Where needed, he uses technology (rEEG) to ensure that medications and treatment are targeted towards individual biochemistry.  His nutrition-based approach often reduces his patient’s use of medication and minimizes drug side-effects.

By identifying and addressing all the factors that contribute to depression, his experience has been that depression can be successfully treated, and the patient is less likely to relapse. As a young psychology undergraduate, decades ago, I had worked in clinical, classroom and group-home settings with young individuals who were on psychiatric medication for various disorders.  How I wish we had this information way back then. 

Why is this topic important? Why should we care? By 2020, depression is expected to be the leading cause of disability worldwide, second only to heart disease.  And despite the dozens of antidepressants on the market, millions of people who seek treatment for depression fail to find relief from their symptoms. According to Greenblatt, standard treatment for depression successfully eliminates symptoms in only 33% of patients.  In about 70% of cases, the symptoms recur.  

Depression disrupts the lives of tens of millions of people is North America – women in particular. It is a leading cause of work disability. Each year in Canada, about 12% of the adult population has a diagnosable (i.e., clinically significant) mental disorder, with major depression being the most common. The costs – for medical care, lost work time, and loss of life – range in the region of $40 billion dollar annually, although one can never put a price on life. People who suffer from depression have much higher rates than average for various types of diseases, from heart ailments to alcoholism. Doctors estimate that as many as 8 million women and 4 million men in the United States are treated for clinical depression every year. 

But could a simple blood test change all that?

Research has shown that an over-accumulation of homocysteine, (whether due to a deficiency in folate, B12, B6, or zinc), can lead to depression.  In this way, testing for levels of homocysteine in the blood could be a very useful form of objective testing.  It is about time because depression is one of the many psychiatric disorders that lack objective testing for diagnosis and treatment.  Because of this, psychiatry is often referred to as a “measureless medicine.”    

Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid that is quickly converted to another amino acid called cysteine. If conversion of homocysteine to cysteine is somehow impaired, homocysteine levels rise and become harmful. Too much homocysteine may increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, free radical activity, and depression.

Several important, mood associated vitamins and minerals (folate, vitamins B12 and B6, and zinc) are responsible for the conversion of homocysteine into the non-harmful cysteine.  Therefore, deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to an accumulation of homocysteine.  

So elevated homocysteine levels can indicate early stage deficiency of folate or vitamins B6 or B12 before blood levels can detect deficiency! This means that checking homocysteine levels in the body is very important if you wish to maintain health.

Not so strangely, many drugs can cause Folate Deficiency States (and therefore lead to high homocystein, inflammation and Depression). Anti-depression drugs are among them:

  • Anticonvulsants (phenytoin, primidone, Phenobarbital, carbamezepine)
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Sulfsalazine
  • Methhotrexate
  • Triamterene
  • Pyremethamine
  • Trimethoprim
  • Alcohol
  • Antacids
  • Metformin

Amazingly, the brain knows and the gut, knows how to make its own antidepressants (for example, serotonin), given the right conditions. If that is true, what causes neurotransmitter deficiencies, dysfunction, and depression?  Integrative Psychiatry sees these anomalies as linked to many factors:

  • Genetics
  • Diet – for instance, junk food, caffeine and nicotine can lead to hypoglycaemia or not enough glucose/fuel supply to brain.
  • Stress – it was noticed that women were 2X as likely as men to be clinically depressed.
  • Neurotoxins – brain allergies, molds, fungi, yeast, candida, airborn chemicals, sugars, caffeine.
  • Inflammation – bad fats, refined sugars and carbohydrates, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.

 Taken altogether, genes, poor diet, stress, neurotoxins and inflammation can lead not only to depression, but suppression of the immune system.

Fortunately, Dr. Greenblatt has reintroduced a biological orthomolecular framework for the understanding, treatment and prevention of Mood Disorders. He summarizes his personalized treatment approach as THE ZEEBRA approach, an easy mnemomic that covers each of the critical factors that should be addressed in the diagnosis and treatment of depression. It’s so simple that it’s elegant.

T– Take care of yourself – Getting plenty of sleep, eating right, and choosing activities that help lower stress and promote well-being are important steps to recovering from depression.

H– Hormones – Correcting hormone imbalances can often relieve depression.

E– Exclude – Exclude certain foods from the diet as problems associated with digesting these foods, such as wheat and dairy, can exacerbate depressed moods.

 

Z – Zinc and Other Minerals – Ensure adequate zinc and mineral levels; insufficient zinc is a frequent culprit in depression.

E – Essential Fatty Acids – Monitoring essential fatty acid and cholesterol levels are important to cardiovascular and mental health as low levels of these substances are often implicated in depression.

E – Exercise – Participating in exercise is known to combat depression on multiple levels.

B – B vitamins and Other Vitamins – Restoring vitamin levels to their optimal range can reduce symptoms of depression.

R – rEEG—This means ‘references EEG, which is a way of measuring brain activity much in the way an EKG might measure the activity level of your heart. If psychiatric medications are needed, rEEG can guide medication selection and eliminate trial-and-error prescribing.

A – Amino Acids and Protein

Let’s look at this again, in more detail:

Depression and THE ZEEBRA

 T – Take Care of Yourself

  • 5 Blood Tests are needed if you suffer from depression : 1) Homocystein, 2) B12 & Folate, 3)Total Cholesterol, 4) Celiac Screen, and 5) Thyroid (free T3 and T4)
    • Hundreds of studies support the relationship between folate and depression.
    • NB: Low folate is associated with increased incidence of depression.
    • With low folate, there is a poor response to antidepressant medications and higher relapse rate.
    • Celiac disease is associated with depression (2X higher rate) due to problems with nutrient absorption. (Ludvigsson JF, et al , 2007).
    • Exercise: Regular exercise may work as well as medication in improving symptoms of major depression.

 H – Hormones:

  • The brain is a cholesterol-rich organ and cholesterol is an important hormone as it is involved in the synthesis of all steroid hormones.  Don’t be afraid to eat eggs! You can have a couple a day, especially if the yolks are soft-cooked.
  • You need cholesterol for serotonin (a feel-good chemical in your brain) to work optimally.
  • Cholesterol activates oxytocin (your cuddle and bonding hormones)
  • It is needed to make bile so that you can digest fat and absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • You need cholesterol to make vitamin D, which is responsible for turning on or off many of the functions in your body.

E – Exclude:

  • Food Allergies – make an appointment with an allergist of immunologist specializing in allergies to find out what you are sensitive to so that you can avoid them and the inflammation and dietary malabsorption that allergens bring.
  • Sugar – the higher your sugar intake, the higher your blood lactate levels become.
    • Lactic Acid binds with calcium, so less of this mineral is available to keep your brain from spiralling into excitement mode.  Sugar, caffeine and alcohol all increase the lactate to pyruvate ratio in the body, resulting in anxiety.  
  • Vitamin Deficiencies – For optimal neurotransmitter synthesis, you need adequate folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D3, and vitamin B3 (Niacin) among other nutrients.  
  • Mineral Deficiencies –A deficiency in say, magnesium, may manifest different symptoms, based on one’s own unique biochemistry and genes. In one person, a magnesium deficiency may manifest as irritability and depression, whereas in another person it may manifest as insomnia and anxiety. More on this below.
  • Amino Acid Deficiencies – Amino acids create sanity and well-being.
    • Amino Acids convert to brain neurotransmitters, which help it to function, have memory, emotions, thoughts, feelings, control depression, sleep, create energy and excitement.
    • You get amino acids from protein.
  • Heavy Metals –Vanadium toxicity can cause manic depression and melancholy.  
    • Taking high-dose vitamin C (ascorbate) reduces damage from excess vanadium. Studies in the Lancet and British J of Psychiatry show that levels of vitamin C in bipolar patients are so low as to indicate actual or borderline scurvy.
  • Toxins – these can be environmental, viral, or toxins produced in the body when you eat foods that you are allergic to.

 Ok, here’s the ZEEBRA, next:

 Z – Zinc and other minerals:

  • Zinc – depletion leads to apathy and lethargy
  • Magnesium – in terms of mood disorders, magnesium deficiency may result in depression, anxiety, irritability or depression.
  • Iron –chronic deficiency can lead to depression, weakness, listlessness, exhaustion, lack of appetite, and headaches.
  • Copper – usually a copper dominance can lead to problems. Zinc should be in a higher ratio to zinc. Watch that your house does not have copper pipes.
  • Manganese – you need it for proper use of vitamin C and all the B vitamins, and to make folic acid.
    • Manganese also helps to stabilize blood sugars and prevents hypoglycaemic mood swings.
    • Potassium – depletion is frequently associated with depression, fearfulness, and fatigue. A 1981 study found patients low in potassium were more likely to be depressed than those who were not deficient in potassium.

E – Essential Fatty Acids:

  • EPA and DHA (found in fish oils), help to lift mood and address inflammation in the body, which is also linked to depression.
  • Flax seed oil does not convert well into EPA or DHA.
  • Can get vegetarian (Algae-sourced) EPA and DHA but it is not as strong.
  • Body clues to low Omega 3:
    • Dry Skin, dandruff, frequent urination, irritability, depression, attention-deficit disorder, soft nails, allergies, lowered immunity, fatigue, lethargy, dry, unmanageable hair, excessive thirst, brittle, easily frayed nails, hyperactivity, ‘chicken-skin’ on back of arms, dry eyes, learning problems, poor wound healing, frequent infections, patches of pale skin on cheeks, cracked skin on heels or fingertips, aggressiveness.
    • Add fish to diet (especially cold-water fish like mercury and PCB-free salmon, mackerel, sardines) to diet, several times weekly.
    • Use butter and coconut oil for cooking and olive oil, flax, and borage oils for sprinkling over food.
    • Read food labels carefully and avoid all trans-fats and hydrogenated oils, including margarine.
    • Eliminate sugar – it creates inflammation and your EFAs are used up to put the fire out.
    • Take daily capsules of cold-water marine fish oil.

 E – Exercise:

  • Exercise boosts your circulation as well as your mood and production of serotonin, your ‘feel-good neurotransmitter (brain-chemical).

B- B vitamins, Folate, Vitamin D, and C:

  • Know that when you eat sugar, you are using your B-vitamins to metabolize the sugar. It is a no-win trade off. (Matthews-Larson,  PhD, Random House Pub. Group, New York, 1999, p. 158.)
  • Your emotional stability depends on a protein snack, not a Twinkie. (ibid)
  • Low B12is associated with fatigue, panic disorders, anxiety, OCD, Depression and Paranoia
    • Other symptoms of B12 deficiency include pernicious anaemia, confused mental state, tingling or numb feeling in hands and feet, sore mouth/ swollen red tongue, pallor, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, memory loss, cessation of menstruation, and fatigue.
    • Low B1 (thiamine) deficiency results in mental confusion, apathy, depression, fatigue and  increased sensitivity to noise. (ibid, p. 157)
    • Low B2 (riboflavin) deficiency causes nervous system changes and an inability to convert food into energy.(ibid)
    • B6 (pyroxidine) deficiency is the main culprit in neuropathy (needles and pins feeling) (ibid)
    • Low Folic Acid/Folate causes deterioration of the nervous system, withdrawal and irritability. It also makes it more likely that you will relapse on your anti-depression drugs.
    • Inositol has similar effects to the tranquilizer Librium. (1980s studies at Princeton Brain Bio Centre showed that brain waves were similar to those of Librium). (ibid, 157)
      • In 1996 Israeli researchers discovered that Inositol converts into a substance that regulated serotonin. (ibid, p. 158).
      • It has been used with OCD and panic disorder. At 18 grams/day it worked as well and as quickly as quickly as Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, and Luvox but without drug side effects.
      • Mental: Irritability, Apathy, Personality Changes, Depression, Memory Loss, Dementia, Hallucination, Violent behaviour, Anxiety
      • Physical: Diminished sense of touch and pain, clumsiness, weakness, pernicious anaemia, chronic fatigue, tremors, Gastro-Intestinal problems

r- Referenced –rEEG

Physicians report significantly reduced trial and error medication selection after using rEEG data.

Referenced-EEG is an objective, physiologically-based measure that helps psychiatrists make better prescribing decisions. rEEG measures electrical brain activity similar to the way that an EKG measures electrical activity in your heart. EEGs have been used for many years to help neurologists treat seizures and other neurological disorders. Now they are being used in psychiatry. Research has shown that although patients may have similar symptoms, they often have very different abnormalities in their EEG signal, and so would require a more individualized approach.  

A – Amino Acids and Protein

  • You need protein and fats to make the neurotransmitter ‘precursors’ that make serotonin (happiness hormone) and Norepinephrine helps to make Tyrosine (helps you focus), and Phenylalanine (helps you to feel calm).
  • BUT, you need stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) in order to break down protein properly.
  • If you are taking antacid medication, or medication for acid reflux, you can’t break down protein adequately.
  • Stomach acid  helps you to:
    • Break down protein
    • Absorb minerals
    • Absorb B12
    • Resist infection
    • Communicate to the brain that you already feel full and can stop eating (satiety)
    •  If you can break down protein, it is easier to get adequate Tryptophan, an amino acid which helps you to increase serotonin in the brain.
    • About 70% of serotonin is produced in your gut.
    • Serotonin helps make 5-HTP and Tryptophan

#Nutrition for #concussion – preliminary research results

Posted November 1st, 2011 in Concussion Nutrition by Rebecca Lane

If you know me, you know that I’m a hockey mom. The recent surge of interest in concussions in the media has started many organizations to develop protocols for getting athletes back to their game – various “return to play” rules have been written and are starting to be enforced. The OATA (Ontario Athletic Therapists Association) is also working on some protocols and asked if I might be interested in doing some research on nutrition for concussion (the # tags are for twitter.com as there is quite a group following information about #concussion for their children).

So here’s the first step in the process, writing about what I’ve found so far and outlining some of the questions I am hoping to find answers to. If you know the answers, or a great resouce where I might find the answers, to any of the questions PLEASE comment below. The more people involved, the better the results!

The following nutritional interventions were identified for review:

  1. Ketogenic Diets and/or Fasting for short periods – Ketogenic diets were originally developed in 1921 to treat epileptic children. They mimic biochemical changes associated with starvation or periods of limited food availability, and are composed of 80-90% fat, 10% protein and limited carbohydrates. In normal metabolism, carbohydrates in food are converted into glucose, which is the body’s preferred source of energy. Under some circumstances, like fasting, glucose is not available because the diet contains insufficient amounts of carbohydrates to meet metabolic needs. Consequently, fatty acid oxidation becomes favored, and the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies that serve as an alternative fuel for brain cells. Based on the evidence presented, the ketogenic diet does hold some promise of effectiveness in improving the outcomes of TBI. There are indications that ketones may provide an alternative and readily usable energy source for the brain that might reduce its dependence on glucose metabolism, which may be impaired immediately following TBI. There is an absence of information on which forms of TBI – mild/concussion, moderate, severe, and penetrating – might benefit from such therapy. (Source: Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel, pp. 140-156) (More information available in this document: Neuroprotectice and Disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet)
    Questions: Duration? Long-term use in pediatric population has been associated with growth retardation, kidney stones, bone fractures (p. 141) Possible intermittent timing schedule? Effects of short-term fasting? For more info about ketogenic diets, click here.
  2. Antioxidants – During a TBI, damage to the brain can occur because of the generation of reactive oxygen species (which can be offset by the use of antioxidant therapy).  Oxidative stress is identified early after the initial injury, and compounds that intercept the production of reactive oxygen species could be beneficial for TBI outcomes. The use of single antioxidants has not been successful in treating oxidative-related diseases, so only consider a combination of vitamins A, C, E, all the B vitamins along with the minerals selenium and zinc.
    (Source: Nutritional Considerations in Traumatic Brain Injury, p. 608  [also pages 88-107 of the Department of Defence document above])
    Questions: Optimal dosage? and efficacy for children?
  3. Omega 3 fatty acids – fish oils and purified omega-3 fatty acids  have been proven to reduce inflammation within hours of continuous administration. For acute cases of TBI, it should be noted that there are intravenous fish oil formulations available in Europe, but these are not approved by the FDA. Continuous enteral (a way to provide food  through a tube placed in the nose,the stomach, or the small intestine) feeding with a feeding formula containing fish oil should provide equivalent effects for this purpose in the early phase of severe TBI when enteral access becomes available. (Source: Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel, p. 188-204)
    Questions: Should dosage be determined by weight, age, severity of TBI – or a combination of factors?  
  4. CDP-Choline – Choline has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in other diseases, and also to decrease calcium-mediated cell death, a feature of TBI. Choline has a critical role in neurotransmitter function because of its impact on acetycholine and dopaminergic function. Currently studies have only been done on animals, but they suggest that CDP-choline supplements increase dopamine receptor densities and can ameliorate memory impairment. It is suggested that CDP-choline may exert neuroprotective effects in an injured brain through its ability to improve phosphatidylcholine synthesis. (Source: Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel, p. 115-129)
    Questions: Optimal clinical dosage and duration of treatment? Further, the DoD will be monitoring the results of the Citicoline Brain Injury Treatment (COBRIT) trial, a human experimental trial examining the effect of CDP-choline and genomic factors on cognition and functional measures in severe, moderate, and complicated mild TBI. We’ll keep our eye on results from this trial.
  5. Creatine– Creatine, which is found in meat but is common in athletes’ dietary supplements, helps give the brain an intense and immediate hit of energy needed to help cells heal right after an injury. (Source:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/americas/starve-a-fever-feed-a-concussion-speedy-feeding-offers-hope-of-better-healing/article1994021/)
    Military personnel are using creatine in the form of dietary supplements to increase strength and muscle mass. In the context of TBI, the committee found good evidence of improvements in cognition and behaviour from trials with creatine in children and adolescents. Although this evidence comes from long-term studies, treatment with creatine was started early after injury and may have influenced disease processes during the acute phase. In fact, creatine is thought to maintain mitochondrial energetics and improve cerebral vascular function, both of which are disrupted during the acute phase of TBI.  (Source: Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel, pp. 130-139)
    Questions: Timing of administration? Optimal dosage?
  6. Magnesium – Magnesium has a role in inhibiting the actions of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate by regulating calcium entry into the postsynaptic neuron, a process intimately related to a TBI event. Despite this seemingly neuroprotective action, there is no clear evidence that magnesium supplementation will affect TBI outcomes. (Source: Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel, pp. 157-187)
  7. Polyphenols – Few studies have been conducted to test their effectiveness in TBI, however their mechanism of action in protecting against cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases suggests that they warrant attention as neuroprotectants. Flavonoids are able to interact with neuronal signaling pathways critical in controlling neuronal survival – specifically selected for study were cucumin and resveratrol. (Source: Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel, pp. 205-226)
    Significant amounts of polyphenols – resveratrol, for example, which is found in red grapes, or curcumin, in yellow spices like turmeric – also helped keep inflammation down. (Source:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/americas/starve-a-fever-feed-a-concussion-speedy-feeding-offers-hope-of-better-healing/article1994021/)
    Questions: Optimal dosage?
  8. Vitamin D – The role of vitamin D in the brain has only recently been recognized and is not well understood. Vitamin D and its receptor are thought to act by binding to DNA response elements that regulate gene transcription involved in cell proliferation, differentiation, and neural function in the brain. Vitamin D’s potential to increase resilience to TBI is supported by findings that vitamin D alone was also neuroprotective against animal models of stroke. Although there are only a few studies on vitamin D’s benefits for TBI treatment, the findings are promising and need to be evaluated further. (Source: Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel, pp. 227-232)
    Questions: Optimal dosage?
  9. Zinc – Zinc is an essential nutrient required for the function of many enzymes in the CNS. In the brain, zinc is released in the synaptic cleft where it modulates the activity of neuroreceptors. An excessive release of zinc can result in neural cell death. In the context of TBI, zinc deficiency might exacerbate the oxidative cascade that results in cell death.  (Source: Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel, pp. 233-246) Questions: Optimal dosage?

I hope that this has given you a starting point for finding answers to your questions about nutrition for concussion. I have skimmed most of the document, but only found the pdf of the entire document available online this morning! Many of the pieces will be hidden in here no doubt.

Dosage information as well as information for children, and adult timing and efficacy need to be researched further. As soon as I have answers, I’ll let you know. But much of the research is only available for these supplements regarding other neurological diseases, especially epilepsy.

There seems to be plenty of information about ketogenic diets for brain-disorders. While I think that immediately following the TBI, the focus should be on drinking water (which I just realized I didn’t mention at all above – every source recommends “Drinking plenty of water” – but give no idea of how much “plenty” is!) and eating glucose foods, once glucose metabolism starts to break down then ketones seem like the option for brain energy. Question, when does glucose metabolism break down after a TBI?

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