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How Can We Better Support Our Brain Health?

by Roddy MacDonald(more info)

listed in nutrition, originally published in issue 284 - February 2023

 

One of the troubling concerns of modern living is the fact that there appears to be a steady gentle decline in IQ levels since the 1970s. It would seem that the growth in the use of technology has resulted in the lowering of IQ. However, there are probably many other factors at play in terms of diet, toxicity and stress.

We are also seeing the growth of degenerative brain diseases over the same period, which is a further cause for concern. Alzheimer’s is now believed to be the most feared disease and understandably so when we see the devastating impact it can have on a once healthy fully functioning human being.

However, there is a lot that we can do individually to help to maintain our mental faculties and reduce our chances of succumbing to degenerative brain disease. I have frequently mentioned the need to keep our brain properly hydrated and that is vital. However not just hydrated with any water, but water that is clean and has good structure. Our brain has one of the highest water contents of any organ and consequently, we need to keep it well hydrated to maintain optimum cognitive functioning.

Computer Fatigue

 

Keep Hydrated While Working on Your Computer

Excessive sitting at computer screens has a very negative impact on our brain hydration. Unfortunately, that is a fact of life for many of us in the modern world and we need to be aware of that. Recently I mentioned an article from the Hydration Foundation, the fact that the brain shrinks as we sleep allowing the water around the brain to wash away wastes and toxins which is important for a properly functioning brain. One of the many reasons why good sleep is important.

However, there are other factors that we can control that will either reduce or increase the chances of brain function depending on our choices. Recently I mentioned the groundbreaking book Drop Acid [1] by Dr David Perlmutter. In it he says:

"Consider a 2016 Japanese study of a group of elderly people whose uric acid levels were tested within the context of risk for dementia: a high level of uric acid among the participants was associated with a fourfold increased risk of a dementia diagnosis. The researchers stated it succinctly in their conclusions: “elevated serum uric acid levels are independently associated with cognitive deterioration."

There is that idea again: an independent risk factor. If obesity, type 2 diabetes and hyperuricemia are each independent risk factors for dementia, imagine the exponential increase in risk when these conditions are all present in an individual.

The Brain has a High Cholesterol Level

Another factor that is seldom mentioned in terms of good brain functioning is the fact that the brain has got a high cholesterol content. Personally, I have always questioned the potential for cholesterol-lowering medication on the brain, but I am not a doctor or scientist. After all, 20% of the whole of the body’s cholesterol is in the brain. There is a very good article written by US medical doctor Dr Catherine Shanahan (Dr Cate). She is a highly regarded expert in metabolism and is an author of several books including Deep Nutrition and Food Rules. Read her perspective HERE.

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

 

DHA – the Best Omega3 Fatty Acid for Brain and Vision

There is considerable interest in the benefits of DHA and B Vitamins in helping to maintain brain health. DHA is one of the primary Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oils. There was a book written 20 years ago by Dr Robert Abel Jr called The DHA Story. He goes into the wide range of benefits of DHA in the body and particularly its benefits for brain and eye health.

Dr Abel  said:

"DHA is a remarkable Omega 3 essential oil that is a key building block in every cell membrane of the body. As a long-chain fatty acid with six double bonds (more than any other fatty acid) it is also a natural biochemical sponge, soaking up free radicals that are the root cause of virtually every disease condition including ageing.

“We each get a DHA starter kit as mothers pass this essential oil to their babies in utero where it serves in building the brain, the eyes, and nervous system as well as all the other organs of the body. But if a mother is deficient, she not only endangers her own health but also the health of her child. DHA deficiencies have been linked to serious health problems in the eyes, heart, brain and nervous system, and numerous other ailments.

“To build and maintain strong. healthy bones that will be resistant to system breakdowns we need to learn to supplement our diets by eating foods rich in this nutrient or make up for our lack by taking DHA dietary supplements."

Combining DHA and B-Vitamins for Maximum Benefit

In 2016 an international team of researchers including members from Oxford University concluded:

While research has already established that B vitamin supplements can help slow mental decline in older people with memory problems, an international team have now found that having higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in your body could boost the B vitamins' effect.

The population in the UK consumes far too little Omega 3 rich foods. Fish oils are the primer source of Omega 3 oils. However, there is increasing concern in consuming fish oils due to contamination in our oceans, particularly of metals such mercury in addition to plastics. For that reason, it is vitally important that people choose a high-quality fish oil that is independently validated for quality. European brand WHC has been leading the field for quality for several years.

A typical fish oil capsule of 1mg Omega 3 concentration will have approx. 500mg of DHA.  Food Standard guidelines suggest that it is safe to consume up to 5 gms of Omega 3 oils per day.  If someone is beginning to feel slight memory or cognition problems then not is often prudent to take at least 2 gas per day of Omega 3 which will give about 1 gm of DHA.

DHA does not just support brain health. Omega 3 oils are very necessary for overall wellbeing, particularly heart health. They are needful to help preserve the integrity and flexibility of cell membranes which in turn supports every area of the body.  In particular, they are beneficial for skeletal, immune and gut health.

 

Gut Brain Connection

 

Nourish the Gut Brain Connection

If we want to preserve our memory, our cognition and reduce our chances of succumbing to a brain degenerative disorder then it is essential to have good gut health, and in particular a flourishing microbiome. There is a huge gut brain connection and the microbes that are residing in your bowel have a massive bearing on your thinking and your mood. There has been a huge lot of interest in recent years on the impact a healthy microbiome can have on our chances of avoiding degenerative brain disorders.

Problems such as constipation, bloating, IBS and many other gut dysfunction labels should be addressed as early as possible to reduce the risk of degenerative disease. One of the prime drivers of gut problems is the overuse of antibiotics over the last few decades. Antibiotics have no doubt saved many lives; however, the adverse effects of their overuse are being seen in many problems and are probably driving the huge growth of depression and anxiety. 

Fortunately, there is extensive research in this area which has the potential to change many lives naturally. In particular, the use of human-derived microbes, which intuitively belong in the human digestive tract, offers huge potential to improve digestive tract dysfunction, even for problems that people have suffered from childhood.  In helping to heal the gut you are not only resolving a digestive problem, you are putting their body in a much better place to enjoy better brain health right intro the twilight years.

In summary, these are the key things that everyone can do with relative ease to boost their brain health and reduce their chances of succumbing to degenerative brain disease.

  1. Drink plenty of health giving water so that your body is properly hydrated;
  2. Reduce the toxin load on your body and detoxify as part of your everyday living;
  3. Consume adequate Omega 3 Fatty acids, particularly DHA. If you are taking your Omega from fish oils ensure that they are high quality with low toxicity;
  4. Take a B-Complex supplement;
  5. Ensure you have good bowel function and a healthy microbial population.

Reference

  1. Drop Acid by David Perlmutter is available from Yellow Kite Hatchette Books Amazon.co.uk  and Amazon.com

Further Information

This article was written by Roddy MacDonald founder of Water for Health Ltd a specialist UK company. At Water for Health we understand that good nutrition, proper hydration and a healthy lifestyle can enormously contribute to optimum health, physically and mentally, throughout a lifetime. The quality of our health is more the result of our choices than of our genes. https://www.water-for-health.co.uk/

 

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About Roddy MacDonald

Roddy MacDonald is the CEO of Water for Health Ltd which he founded in 2006. Water for Health is a specialist company that distributes a unique range of quality products to improve health through hydration and nutrition. Prior to founding Water for Health, Roddy worked in several industry sectors including financial services, construction and environmental services. Roddy’s interest in natural health was sparked by his own health challenges when he suffered for a number of years with chronic fatigue syndrome. He regained his health through hydration, nutrition and an understanding of the key role that emotions play in health and illness. It kindled his interest in natural health where he has read extensively for the last 30 years and is an enthusiastic believer in the ability of the body to heal itself, if it is given what it needs. He may be contacted on Tel: 01764 662111; roddy@water-for-health.co.uk   www.water-for-health.co.uk

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