Brain Based Therapy

 

We grew up hearing that fish was “brain food”. It turns out that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may be very beneficial to the brain. Taking omega-3 fatty acids may have a beneficial effect on cognition, mood, learning, child development and even ADHD.

Research that appeared in the Journal of Child Health Care (e-published ahead of print Aug 9 , 2 0 1 1 d o i : 10.1177/1367493511403953) measured omega-3 fatty acid levels in children with ADHD and in children with ADHD coupled with a learning disability. Researchers found that children with learning difficulties tended to have lower DHA (an omega- 3 fatty acid) levels than children without learning difficulties. Students with high levels of DHA (measured in the red blood cells) tended to have less anxiety and better word recall than children with higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids. High omega-3 fatty acid levels also correlated with better reading and spelling ability.

Other research looked at the omega-3 fatty acid levels of 96 boys between the ages of six and 12 and the relationship between learning and behavior. The study appeared in Psychology and Behavior (1996;59(4-5):915-920). It found a relationship between low omega-3 fatty acid levels and problems with learning, behavior, and with health problems in general. Interestingly, more colds and antibiotic use was noted in children with low omega-6 fatty acid levels.  

 

Eating fish a couple of times a week will not get you enough of the omega- 3 fatty acids.   You will need to supplement your diet with omegas in order to get enough into your system. 

 

Some patients have complained that when they take fish oils they burp up the fishy taste.  This does NOT mean that you do not need them.  It means that you have either a low quality product, or your body is not allowing you to digest them.  If that is the case, put the fish oils on the shelf and get into a doctor that will be able to help get your digestive tract healed back up so you can take them without any problems. 

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How can you increase  memory 1,800%?

I’m sure you’ve noticed ads for products that claim to enhance mental performance? After hearing all the research and the hype, I always try to ask myself the question “Why is that working?” and “What’s the underlying mechanism?”. You could take 20 or 30 different nutrients to increase brain function, and each one of them has some rationale. But let’s consider “principles” that promote brain power rather than a specific “take this miracle product” approach.

We now know, contrary to our earlier understanding, that parts of the brain can regenerate though a process called neurogenesis. To stimulate and control neurogenesis, certain chemicals called neurotrophins are involved. One of the most exciting factors and one of the most active is a protein called BDNF, “brainderived neurotrophic factor.” BDNF is an essential key player in creating new neurons and protecting old ones. Some of the factors that are involved in turning on BDNF are voluntary exercise, caloric reduction and intellectual stimulation. I say “voluntary” exercise because lab animals that were stressed or forced to exercise did not have the same benefits as those who could exercise at will.

Dr. Lautenschlager of the University of Western Australia found that elderly individual’s who exercised the equivalent of 20 minutes a day for 24 weeks showed an 1,800 percent increase in memory, attention and other cognitive functions.

One reason exercise may be so important is that BDNF is also found in skeletal muscle. It appears that “as BDNF in the muscle increases so does BDNF in the brain.”

Next, let’s consider caloric reduction. More and more research reports the benefits of caloric reduction, and one of those benefits is an increase in BDNF. The average American consumes an average of 500 more calories per day than they consumed in 1970. So reducing calories from the estimated 3,700 to 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men is not a huge discomfort. Another interesting note is that “BDNF levels are low in those with obesity and also in patients with Type II diabetes.”

Just as exercise can increase BDNF in the muscles, mental exercise can also increase BDNF in the brain. BDNF is increased with problem solving and intellectual stimulation.

Of course, it will come as no surprise that stress is one of the major factors which “negatively” affects brain health. We can break stress into 4 major categories: inflammatory stress, oxidative stress, toxic stress (both internal and external toxins) and of course emotional stress. Each of these categories overlap, and each one of them can intensify the other.

Most of you know the factors that can lead to inflammatory stress: hydrogenated or trans fats, elevated homocysteine levels, food allergies, diets high in refined carbohydrates that will raise insulin levels to name a few. Oxidative stress occurs as a natural process of life but can be accelerated by depletions of natural antioxidants, heavy metals or an overabundance of healthy minerals like iron or copper.

Toxic stress or environmental stress comes from pesticides, herbicides, flavor enhancers, preservatives or coloring agents and more. Figure in emotional stress and we have an equation for “compromised” brain power. Remember, it takes energy to deal with these stresses. When our energy supplies are depleted the effects of these stresses accumulate and cells begin to function at less than optimal rates. Cellular repair mechanisms need energy to rebuild, repair and reproduce healthy cells.

More than 2/3 of the dry weight of the human brain is fat, and ¼ of that is DHA.

Both EPA and DHA are beneficial to promote healthy brain plasticity between synapses of brain cells.

It may seem over simplified, but we actually do reap numerous benefits by practicing core principles. More specifically I’m referring to wellness “principles” that encourage and promote life. 

The Key Components for Optimal Brain Health Are:

 Voluntary Exercise

Caloric Reduction

Intellectual Stimulation

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Is it time for a Gut Check?

June 26, 2011

  If you are having problems with digestion, then it is time for a gut check.  But what if you have no symptoms?  We are supposed to have about 3 lbs of good bacteria in our digestive tract.  We need this to help digest and absorb the nutrients from the food we eat.  Think of […]

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The Best Patients in the World

May 6, 2011

  Dr. Chris Heimlich, DC comments: I treat chronically ill patients every day.  We see patients from four different countries.  My patients suffer with fibromyalgia, fatigue, brain fog, autoimmune conditions, insomnia…you name it. Unfortunately, many of them have been to previous doctors who didn’t listen, got frustrated when it took more than a 10 minute office visit to […]

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Fibromyalgia: What Does it Really Mean?

May 6, 2011

  Dr. Chris Heimlich D.C., Founder of the Heimlich Institute…elaborates: With the big pharmaceutical companies scrambling to create and market new drugs to treat fibromyalgia, it behooves us to ask the question: What is fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia sufferer’s have several things in common, including: widespread achy muscle pain, fatigue, insomnia, and “fibro fog.” Given these similarities […]

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Brain Based Rehab: The Brain is a Bunch of Muscles

May 5, 2011

Brain Based Rehabilitation – The Brain Is A Bunch of Muscles Dr. Chris Heimlich D.C. practicing in Scottsdale and Phoenix AZ  ..elaborates: I deal primarily with functional neurological and functional endocrine disorders.   Functional Brain Based Rehabilitation is a way to increase the function of…or strengthen weak areas of the brain and nervous system. Although in reality […]

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Brain Based Rehabilitation and Fibromyalgia

May 5, 2011

Brain Based Rehabilitation – An Effective, Non-Drug, Approach to Fibromyalgia  Dr Chris Heimlich DC of Scottsdale AZ Comments: I see patients with fibromyalgia everyday in my office. The one thing that all of my patients have in common is…they are all different. Let’s face it…fibromyalgia has become sort of a garbage can diagnosis for most doctors. […]

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