Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 1: Nutrition

If you want to improve your brain health, at any age and in any condition, this article is a must-read for you.

This article is perfect for four types of people:

A) You are starting to notice the first signs of cognitive decline:

  • Confusion
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Loss of short-term or long-term memory
  • Identity confusion
  • Impaired judgment

B) You simply want the best brain health your whole life through.

C) You are supporting a loved one who has started to lose optimal brain function.

D) All of the above.

Whether you yourself are suffering, your loved one is struggling, or you are an advocate of healthy living- you will want to take note of the 16 tips offered here in this guide.

This guide is based on Dr. Bredesen’s #1 Bestseller, The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline. His substantial work in the field of reversing cognitive decline is instrumental for anyone suffering from this themselves or supporting a loved one going through this process.  

These tips would truly benefit all of us, especially those of you who are trying to find the right protocol to support your brain health.  Stay tuned next week too when we share part 2 of this special series!

1. Fast for at least 12 hours between the end of dinner and the beginning of breakfast.

This allows autophagy to occur, which helps your brain to destroy aggregated proteins and other unwanted accumulated molecules. It is best to break the fast with water with some lemon, as a detoxifying drink. Please note: It is best to work with your functional medicine doctor to ensure your blood sugar levels are in a safe proper range for fasting.

2. Fast for at least 3 hours prior to going to bed.

This helps to prevent insulin from inhibiting melatonin and growth hormone, and thus improves sleep and immune function. 

3. It is key to minimize simple carbohydrates

Such as sugar, sweet treats, bread (white and brown), white rice, white potatoes (OK to eat sweet potatoes and other colored potatoes in small quantities), soft drinks (both regular and diet, since diet alter microbiome), alcohol, candy, cakes, processed foods, and anything else with simple carbohydrates. The goal is to change from carbohydrate metabolism to lipid metabolism.

4. Make most of your diet from items that have a glycemic index lower than 35.

For a list of glycemic indices for food, see: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods

5. Vegetables should be the largest part of the diet

Especially non-starchy ones. Include both uncooked (salads) and cooked. Include as many colors as possible.

6. Avoid fruit juices, but eat fruits 

The whole fruit includes the fiber or have smoothies with fruit, but do not make the smoothies too sweet —best with some vegetables.

7. Avoid gluten and dairy as much as possible.

It is recommended that you get Cyrex Arrays 2, 3, 4 and 20 to help guide you: Array 2 is to determine if you have leaky gut; Array 3 is to determine if you have gluten sensitivity; and Array 20 is to determine whether you have a leaky blood-brain barrier.

8. Reduce blood sugar

You can do this by including fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Try this recipe to make your own almond milk.

9. Reduce toxins

Try this by including cilantro, cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts).

10. Include good fats

Such as avocado, nuts, olive oil, seeds, etc.

11. Avoid processed foods and instead eat whole foods.

12. Meat is a condiment, not a main course.

If you eat it, fine, but don’t eat too much (2 or 3 ounces, 1-5 nights per week), and eat pastured chicken or grass-fed beef. Fish is fine if wild caught, best to avoid high-mercury fish such as tuna, swordfish, and shark (fish with large mouths and long lifespans are worst). “SMASH” fish are best (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring).

13. Emphasize foods with high nutrient density

Such as kale and romaine lettuce. Each day, try to eat at least 3 helpings of:

  • Dark leafy greens, such as kale, collards, spinach, or chard.
  • Colored vegetables or fruits, such as berries, carrots, or beets.
  • Sulfur-rich vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus.
  • Include aromatic herbs such as cilantro, parsley, basil, or mint.

14. Be aware of the “dirty dozen and clean 15” foods.

The Dirty Dozen are foods highest in pesticides, and therefore important to buy as organic: Click here to learn more: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php The Clean 15 are foods that are not sprayed as heavily, and therefore relatively safe to buy conventionally (non-organically): Click here to learn more: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php  See: www.fullyraw.com/dirty-dozen-clean-15

15. For grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, it is helpful to remove the lectins and phytates

Do this by soaking prior to cooking. https://wholelifestylenutrition.com/health/is-soaking-grains-and-legumes-necessary-and-how-to-properly-soak-and-prepare-them/

16. Incorporate pro-biotics and pre-biotics

Do this after determining that you do not have a leaky gut (Cyrex 2). Pro-biotics help to optimize your microbiome, the bacterial population in your gut. Pro-biotic foods include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, dairy- free yogurt, tempeh, miso, kefir, and coconut water. Pre-biotics help to support the bacteria of the microbiome. Pre-biotic foods include jicama, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, and others. 

May this guide to boosting your cognitive health be helpful for you.

There are 16 powerful tips here, and starting with just one will make a difference. If you’d like personal support in this process. Please click here to learn more about Happy Health Institute can guide your health and healing. Happy Health Institute Services: http://onnalomd.com/services/. Furthermore, you can click here to book a free discovery call to gain personalized attention: http://onnalomd.com/contact-us/.

Tune in next week when we share Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 2: Lifestyle

PS: Join our free Facebook Group here to learn more about cognitive health and more happy healthy tips: https://www.facebook.com/groups/happyhealthcommunity/Image result for facebook group

RESOURCES:

Book: The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline

by Dale Bredesen, MD

Image result for end of alzheimer's book

Phases of Digestion

Phases of Digestion

Your digestive system will process 170,000 pounds of food over the course of your life.  Your digestive system has more nerve endings than your brain.  These facts are amazing and helps us to realize how critical the digestive system is to human health.  One of the most important functions of your digestive system is to physically and chemically break down food to allow for absorption further down the digestive tract.  What is the point of eating all this healthy food if your body cannot break it down properly to get the nutrients that it needs to benefit you?  We feel the digestive system is one of the most important yet overlooked systems in your body.

A simple way to think about digestion is to equate it to a car wash.  Each phase in the car wash is critical and dependent on the previous phase being completed.  These steps must occur in the right order.  You would never dry the car before it’s been soaped.  So let’s break the digestive process down so that you have a better understanding of how this amazing sequence of events takes place and turns your food into nutrition to fuel your body.
Digestive Health

Phase 1 – Food for Thought

Digestion starts in the brain.  The smell and anticipation of food triggers the brain and digestive system to start releasing enzymes and gastric juices to prepare for the incoming meal.  It is important that you are in a calm and stress-free environment when you eat.  This will keep your body in the “rest and digest” mode.

Phase 2 – Chew Your Food: your stomach does not have teeth!

Mom was right, chewing your food is good for you, but she may not have told you why.  Chewing your food is one of the most critical steps to digestion.  The physical crushing of food in your mouth breaks increases the surface  area of your food and unlocks the nutrients in the food for further digestion in the stomach. bigstock-Assorted-metal-gears-on-white-17158397Chewing your food also stimulates stomach secretions and mixes your saliva with your food to start the breakdown of carbohydrates. This critical step is not reproduced anywhere else and therefore is critical to the process.  If you food is not properly chewed it will disrupt the entire process that follows, there is nothing that can replicate this step for you.

Phase 3 – Stomach

When food enters the stomach, your stomach starts to secrete hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes that work mainly on breaking down protein.  The hydrochloric acid also sterilizes your food stomach to prevent bugs that may be in your food from entering your bloodstream.

A common reason for heartburn is a lack of stomach acid secretion or dilution of enzymes.  This results from not chewing your food, or drinking lots of water with your food.  Food remains partially digested and starts to rot. This rotten food becomes acidic (lactic acid), which is acidic enough to burn your esophagus, but not acidic enough to digest your food properly. For this reason, in our office, we often prescribe digestive enzymes that actually acidify the stomach contents.

Phase 4 – Pancreas

The next step once the food has been sterilized and acidified is to further break down that food via the release of pancreatic enzymes.  The pancreatic enzymes also alter the pH of the food to make it more alkaline in preparation for entry into the jejunum.

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Phase 5 – Gallbladder Secretion

The final major step in digestion takes place once bile is released to emulsify fats.  These fats are chemically broken down by bile so that they can be absorbed.  The gallbladder does not make bile, it stores it.  Bile is made from cholesterol and toxins that are neutralized by the liver.  Bile not only digests fats but it further sterilizes the bowel and promotes regularity.

The physical and chemical breakdown of food is critical to proper digestion and absorption. The problem with undigested food is that it is these food particles can leak into the bloodstream. Then the immune system will recognize that food particle as an invader. This is where lots of food sensitivities come from. This immune response can also increase inflammation and raise blood sugars, causing a system-wide reaction.

Woman choosing between healthy food and caloric food

What can you do to help with proper digestion?

  • Choose the right foods
  • Chew your food thoroughly
  • Don’t drink more than 8 oz. of fluid with meals
  • Eat in a relaxing environment
  • Eat fresh fiber first
  • Eliminate food allergens (get tested)
  • Identify and eliminate any microbes or parasites
  • Get a comprehensive stool test to identify digestive system health

At the Onna Lo MD Clinic we help you get to the underlying cause of your digestive issues, instead of just treating the symptoms.  We help you find out WHY you don’t feel well and what you can do about it.

A Functional Medicine Approach to Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is the common name for a set of symptoms that result from the adrenal glands being worked to exhaustion. For the majority of cases, adrenal fatigue is secondary to some other underlying health issue such as chronic, hidden inflammation.  Stress can come in a variety of forms, but your body’s response is the same.  It can take years for your adrenal glands to fail to meet the demands of your daily life, ultimately resulting in adrenal fatigue.

If you’re suspecting that you have adrenal fatigue.  Ask yourself if you suffer from these adrenal fatigue symptoms;

  • get tired for no reason
  • have trouble getting up in the morning
  • need caffeine or energy drinks to keep goingAdrenal Fatigue
  • crave either salty or sweet snacks
  • either have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • chronic allergies
  • never get sick
  • get sick often
  • poor memory
  • poor concentration
  • depression
  • menstrual cycle irregularities
  • chronic pain
  • slow healing from injuries
  • bruise easily
  • inability to handle stress

If you answered yes to any of these questions then consider adrenal fatigue.

The Anatomy of Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenals are two small glands, each about the size of an almond, that are located above the kidneys. The adrenals have one of the highest rates of blood flow per gram of tissue, and the highest content of vitamin C per gram of any tissue in the body. Each adrenal gland is composed of two separate functional entities. The outer zone, or cortex, accounts for 80% to 90% of the gland and secretes adrenal steroids (cortisol, DHEA-S, aldosterone and small amounts of sex hormones). The inner zone, or medulla, comprises 10% to 20% of the gland and secretes the catecholamines (adrenaline and nor-adrenaline). Cortisol, DHEA, and adrenaline are the three main adrenal stress hormones. These hormones help you to buffer stress and adapt to everyday life demands. We’d love to talk to you about natural adrenal supplements.

Under stress, healthy adrenals increase their output of cortisol and DHEA to enable you to preserve health. They also secrete adrenaline, giving you a boost of energy when needed (ie mother lifting car off of a baby). If this becomes chronic, the adrenals can no longer keep up with the demand, and DHEA levels begin to fall, signifying adrenal fatigue.  In addition, the over-secretion of adrenaline can cause you to feel anxious and nervous.  Complaints of insomnia, fatigue, depression, irritability, and digestive difficulties are also common.  As adrenaline surges during stress, digestive enzymes are simultaneously lowered, and blood sugar levels rise.  As this becomes a more chronic occurrence, the results of high cortisol and adrenaline levels from prolonged stress wreak havoc on the body. Essentially under stress all systems that are required for rest, repair, and digestion shut down.

“Adrenal fatigue is the end-stage of a poorly adapted stress response that can take years to break down.”

Below are areas of the body that are negatively impacted by adrenal exhaustion and the chronic stress response that causes it.

Energy Production

Abnormal adrenal function can alter the ability of cells to produce energy for the activities of daily life. People who have a hard time rising in the morning, or who suffer from low energy throughout the day, often have abnormal adrenal rhythms, adrenal fatigue, and poor blood sugar regulation. The maintenance of a stable blood sugar level depends on food choice, lifestyle, adrenal function, and insulin activity.

Muscle and Joint Function

Abnormal adrenal rhythms are known to compromise tissue healing. Reduced tissue repair and increased tissue breakdown can lead to muscle and joint wasting with chronic pain.

Bone Health

The adrenal rhythm determines how well we build bone. If the night and morning cortisol levels are elevated, our bones do not rebuild well, and we are more prone to osteoporosis. Stress is the enemy of the bones. In postmenopausal women, the effect of stress worsens due to female hormone imbalances.

Immune Health

Various immune cells (white blood cells) cycle in and out of the spleen and bone marrow. The immune system trafficking follows the cortisol cycle. If the cycle is disrupted, especially at night, then the immune system is adversely affected. Short- and long-term stress is known to suppress the immune response in the lungs, throat, urinary tract and intestines. With reduction in the surface antibody (called secretory IgA), the resistance to infection is reduced and allergic reactions increase.

Sleep QualityAdrenal fatigue

In sleep-deprived individuals, the mean cortisol levels are elevated, and the quiescent period is shorter. Evening cortisol level is increased in patients with insomnia, affecting the first part of the nocturnal sleep period, increasing risk for depression. Chronic lack of REM sleep can reduce a person’s mental vitality, vigor and induce depression.

Fertility

Couples with high level of stress markers are less likely to succeed in conceiving. Stress alters the brain signals that trigger the ovaries to release eggs each month, so women under non-stop stress ovulate fewer eggs than less stressed women. Stress can also affect testosterone level and sperm production in men. Helping couples to de-stress while trying to conceive can impact their success rate.

Skin Regeneration

Human skin regenerates mostly at night. With higher night cortisol values, less skin regeneration takes place. Thus normal cortisol rhythm is essential for optimal skin health.

Thyroid Function

The level of cortisol at the cellular level controls thyroid hormone production. Often, hypothyroid symptoms such as fatigue and low body temperature are due to a stress or adrenal fatigue.  Chronic stress will convert thyroid hormone to it’s inactive form (reverse T3) and shuts down the production of TSH.

Gluten Sensitivity and Stress Response

Approximately 12-18% of the U.S. population suffers from a genetic intolerance to grains, such as wheat, rye or barley contained in cereals, breads and pasta. A high incidence occurs in people with Celtic, Nordic, non-Caucasian and Mediterranean ethnicity. The gut becomes inflamed within 30 minutes after consuming grains, and this can lead to an adrenal stress response, increased cortisol and reduced DHEA.

Diabetes - BrainMemory

Sustained stress adversely affects brain function and memory processing. Too much cortisol interferes with the functioning chemicals the brain uses for its cellular intercommunication as well as decrease the function of the hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that forms memories. Chronic long term stress, with increased cortisol level at night, makes it perplexing to think, organize, and store new memories or retrieve long-term ones.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

A common adrenal fatigue issue in CFS is impaired corticotrophin release.  As a result, low cortisol and eventual adrenal atrophy may be observed.  Simultaneous use of several therapies can help improve the debilitating effects of CFS.

Glycemic Dysregulation

Chronic low blood sugars can impair normal adrenal function by repetitive over-stimulation of cortisol production. Recurring exposure to high cortisol will impair insulin activity, and invariably lead to insulin resistance and beta-cell exhaustion (diabetes).

Allergies/Autoimmune Disorders

More than fifty years ago, Dr. W. Jefferies (author of Safe Uses of Cortisol) discovered that patients with environmentally triggered allergies and autoimmune diseases dramatically benefited when given cortisol for other purposes. More recently, German researchers reported that disruption of the adrenal axis and cytokine relationships lead to predisposition and aggravation of autoimmune diseases.

Depression/ADD

Several recent publications report a hyperactive HPA axis in depressed patients. Elevated midnight salivary cortisol is now considered one of the best tests in diagnosing endogenous depression. Other anomalies in cortisol rhythm usually accompany the midnight elevation. On the other hand, cortisol elevations and rhythm disruptions throughout the day are typical of attention deficit disorders (ADD).

 

Our Clinic’s Approach to Adrenal Fatigue

As you can see, a chronic stress response that eventually develops into adrenal fatigue has a negative impact on virtually every aspect of health. Stress is reaching an epidemic proportion due to our fast-paced lifestyle and is at the heart of virtually all chronic disease.  As mentioned earlier, adrenal fatigue is secondary to a chronic stress stimulus. These stressors can be in the form of:

  • Dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance in the gut)
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Chemical Sensitivities
  • Chronic Pain
  • Blood Sugar issues such as reactive hypoglycemia and diabetes
  • Environmental factors such as quality of air, food, and water, as well as toxin exposure
  • Fast-paced lifestyle
  • Poor relationships

As Functional Medicine Providers, it is our job to dig through the dirt to find the underlying cause of your stress response gone awry.  Not only do we tell you WHY you don’t feel well, but teach you what YOU can do about it.  Let us help you develop a strategy to conquer adrenal fatigue and restore your vitality and quality of life.

Let us help navigate you towards better health!