Brain Health

Published: December 3, 2013
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The Care and Feeding of a Healthy Brain

Conventional medicine usually takes the approach of preventing and treating disease — creating names and descriptions for thousands of different diseases, and then declaring "war" on them with drugs and surgeries (which often create a lot of "collateral damage," to use another war-related term). But the war on illness doesn't work. And as a result, year by year, Americans are getting sicker and sicker! There is a better way…

...Optimize your health!

When you optimize your health, you give less room for disease to take hold. And you also optimize your vitality and energy. So it's time to declare your personal truce in the "war" against disease — and take your health back by optimizing key systems and organs in your body. And that's what my new series is all about.

For years, the proponents of natural health and healing have advocated focusing on creating health, as opposed to preventing and treating disease. So this series is going to show you how to do just that, organ by organ and system by system. Let's start by optimizing the health and function of that all-important organ — your precious brain!

Natural Ways to Promote Brain Health

There are many easy ways to tune up your brain and optimize memory, concentration, decision making and other cognitive functions.

Get enough sleep. Sleep protects and restores brain function — with studies showing that those with sleep disturbances are four times more likely to develop cognitive problems.

Optimize nutrition. Emphasizing whole fruits and vegetables and minimizing red meat and dairy products is the best pattern of eating for brain health. The best vegetables for your brain? Dark-green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and kale), and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cabbage).

Take fish oil. The outer coverings of brain cells (membranes) are made of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), one of the omega-3 essential fatty acids found primarily in fish oil. Without enough DHA, your brain can't function normally. Eat three to four servings a week of fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, herring, or sardines. Or take omega-3 supplements.

Are medications leaving you foggy? It's amazing how many people with cognitive problems like memory loss recover normal mental function when they're weaned off unnecessary medications. Ask your doctor if he's willing to work with you to find out if any (or many) of your medications are contributing. The best approach — if your doctor agrees it's safe for you — is to have your doctor taper you off your medications, slowly reducing their dosages to see if the lower dose provides improved memory and brain function.

Optimize hormones. If you're having memory problems or other cognitive difficulties, consider having hormonal deficiencies treated even if your blood tests for those hormones are in the "normal range." You'll need to work with a holistic practitioner or a compounding pharmacy to optimize hormones. Your doctor should check thyroid hormone, testosterone (in men), and estrogen/progesterone (in women), using bioidentical hormones for optimization.

Optimize immune function. You want to keep your immune system balanced and calm, and the best way to do that is with diet. Immune-calming foods include: 1) whole, fresh foods; 2) omega-3 fatty acids in fish; 3) grass-fed and free-range meat; 4) healthy snacks, such as nuts; and 5) olive oil.

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