The Aging Brain

  • By Healthy Living Liberty Lake
  • 03 May, 2017
A common complaint as people age is forgetfulness. Why did I walk into this room? Where did I put my keys? The word I want to say is on the tip of my tongue... What's that person's name again? Most of us over 50 can identify with these.
Our most important organ is our brain, and we must do all we can to protect it from deterioration.

There are simple things you can do to improve brain health, such as:

Omega 3's - 9% of the brain is omega 3, and most of us are low in this vital fat. Take 3000-4000 mg of fish oil daily, and make sure that it is mercury free, and not rancid. Often, stores that sell fish oil with a buy one, get one free ad, know that the oil is getting old and turning rancid.

Melatonin 1-3 mg at night - neuroportective, protecting against natural brain erosion, cell death and brain shrinkage that occurs with age. Researchers have reported that lithium inhibits beta-amyloid secretion, and also prevents damage caused by beta-amyloid protein once it's been formed. 20-23 Beta-amyloid peptide is a signature protein involved in Alzheimer's disease: the more beta-amyloid protein, the worse the Alzheimer's becomes. Lithium can also help protect your brain against aluminum by helping to "chelate" it so that it can be more easily removed from the body.

Exercise - both physical, and mental exercise is important for optimal brain health.

Sleep - we need 8 hours of sleep each night, and as we age our sleep becomes disrupted. This can increase the risk of dementia or memory impairment. Try natural sleep aides first, such as GABA, kavinace, valerian root, passion balm, and melatonin before resorting to drugs, as sleep meds also increase risk of dementia. We also use CES - Cranial Electrical Stimulation, which a person can use at home for better relaxation.

Arterial flow - brain artery support is crucial for healthy brain aging and preventing dementia. The stiffness of the arteries is directly correlated with cardiorespiratory fitness: the more fit people are, the more elastic their arteries. Because arterial stiffening is a cause of reduced brain blood flow, stiff arteries can lead to a faster rate of cognitive decline and an increased chance of stroke, especially in older adults. To increase arterial elasticity, and decrease plaque build- up, we use 2 things: pomegranate juice, 1/4 cup per day works better than most drugs, and a supplement called vasophil. Vasophil is a combination of citrulline and L-arginine and has been shown to improve endothelial dysfunction, or in other words, decrease arterial stiffness.

Coconut and MCT oil - I tell my patients to use coconut oil every day in their diet, it's great for heart and brain health. Read Alzheimer's Disease: What If There Was A Cure by Dr. Mary Newport for more information.

We can measure brain functioning with a specialized EEG, called a quantitative EEG (qEEG).  Done easily in the office, it can help us determine causes of memory impairment, and help with diagnosis and treatment of dementia, depression, anxiety, PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and chronic fatigue.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 18 Jul, 2017
We've all heard the advice to drink more water. 8 glasses a day, to be precise. Whether you're thirsty or not, it's good for you. I've always doubted this advice since it had no sound reasoning behind it, other than "detoxification". But now, a new study done by the University of Melbourne casts doubt on this advise.

Many who advocate drinking eight glasses or more of water daily are not aware of the potentially fatal side effect of water intoxication.  We are fortunate in that we have a mechanism to regulate fluid intake to keep us from over-drinking. The study showed for the first time that the brain activates a "swallowing inhibition" when excess liquid is consumed.
Participants in the study had to rate the amount of effort that was required to swallow water following exercise when they were thirsty, and then later when they were persuaded to drink an excessive amount of water. There was a 3-fold increase in the swallowing effort after over-drinking, which validated that the swallowing reflex is inhibited when enough water has been consumed.

MRI was used to record the activity in different areas of the brain involved with swallowing. The prefrontal areas made more active when the participants attempted to swallow with a great effort, meaning that the frontal cortex steps in to override the swallowing inhibition, in order to avoid water intoxication.  

Intoxication occurs when levels of sodium in the blood become abnormally low, which can cause symptoms of lethargy, confusion, nausea, convulsions and coma. In my 25 years of practice, I've had 2 patients die from excessively drinking water, causing sodium to be very low, which caused brain swelling. There have even been incidences where athletes in marathons were advised to fill up with water and then died, because they followed those incorrect recommendations and drank far in access of their actual need.

The researchers advocated doing what our bodies demand, stating that we should just drink according to our thirst, not a deliberate schedule.  We should trust in our "swallowing inhibition" that the brain activates if excess liquid is consumed.  The  brain helps maintain tightly calibrated volumes of water in our bodies. Do drink when you're thirsty. And remember on hot summer days, like we have now, you'll need to drink more to stay hydrated. Even more so with exercise.  

But don't drink water just b/c someone told you should drink at least 8 glasses a day .   Drink when you're thirsty, and you'll be fine.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 07 Jul, 2017
Everyone's ideas of happiness is different, but there is one thing we all have in common.  Serotonin- the critical neurotransmitter needed to boost mood.  People with low serotonin levels are often depressed, pessimistic, and generally not pleasant to be around.  Serotonin is called the "happy hormone", but also has other health benefits which make us healthy at the same time.

10 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Serotonin Levels:

1. Eat animal protein.  An amino acid called tryptophan helps produce serotonin, and animal protein is the best source. Tryptophan is especially high in chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beef and dairy. Whey and egg protein are scientifically proven to increase this amino acid in the brain.
2. Sunshine - natural light has a positive effect on mood, and triggers serotonin synthesis.  The brighter the sunlight, the more serotonin the body produces.  This could explain feeling down in the winter or on rainy dark days.
3. Vitamin D - helps convert tryptophan into serotonin.   Here, we need to supplement as we rarely get enough UV rays  to make enough.  You'll typically need between 2000 IU - 10,000 IU daily.
4. Omega 3's - help boost serotonin production in the brain.   Need 2000-4000mg daily.
5. Eat Curry - curry has turmeric, which is considered a potent anti-depressant.   Helps to increase serotonin in the brain, while reducing inflammation.
6.Caffeine - this has a positive effect on levels of serotonin in the brain, which is good news for most of us.   Don't overdo, however.
7. Exercise - has been shown to increase serotonin levels because motor neurons activated during physical activity boost the release of serotonin.  Regular exercise will spike tryptophan levels in the brain.
8. Massage - proven to reduce cortisol and increase happy hormones by as much as 28%.  Plus it feels great.
9. Nuts - contain tryptophan, so the more you eat, the happier you'll be.  They also have numerous other health benefits, such as decreasing inflammation, helping to prevent heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments.
10. Green tea - contains L-theanine, an amino acid that boosts serotonin levels.   It also has a powerful antioxidant that prevents brain damage.

There you go, this is a good place to start, especially if you've been feeling down lately.   B vitamins may also help, but if none of this is enough, then see your doctor.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 14 Jun, 2017
Have you ever heard of Hashimoto's?  It's a common cause of low thyroid, or hypothyroidism. It's an auto-immune disease, which means the body is making antibodies against the thyroid and destroying it.

To diagnose, a blood test for thyroid antibodies must be done. Like all auto-immune diseases, it is much more common in women than men.
With Hashimoto's, blood levels often show an elevated TSH, and a low T3.  T3 is the active form of thyroid, and when the Free T3 is less than 3, expect fatigue as a common complaint.  

The conventional treatment of Hashimoto's is to prescribe a synthetic T4 , such as synthroid or levothyroxine.  This is not optimal, however, as often the T3 remains low.  And, in a review of patients on levothyroxine, long-term use was related to cardiac dysfunction, left ventricular hypertrophy (or heart failure) and rapid bone loss. Therefore, I typically will prescribe a T3/T4 combination, such as Armour or Nature Thyroid.
However, the goal is to reduce the antibody levels. To do this I recommend a supplement such as Thyrotrophin PMG made by Standard Process.   It must be taken three times a day and can act as a decoy, allowing the antibodies to attack it rather than the thyroid itself.
Now there is another option which has great promise.

Researchers looked at 40 men and women with Hashimoto's.  Half got placebo, and half got black cumin seed for 8 weeks.  Levels of T3, TSH and thyroid antibodies were measured before and after, and also the person's body composition.
What did they find?  "treatment with black cumin seed significantly reduced body weight and BMI. TSH and thyroid antibodies decreased, while T3 levels increased in those taking black cumin.  Those on placebo had no difference in their levels."

Every single measurement of Hashimotot's disease improved with this herb!  TSH improved 50%.  T3 levels improved 15%.  And antibodies decreased 50%.  All without side effects.

You can buy black cumin at any health food store or online - if you have Hashimoto's, give this a try.  
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