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Image: Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum viewed laterally. Figure 728 from Gray's Anatomy. Source: Vectorized in CorelDraw by Mysid, based on the online edition of Gray's Anatomy. Author: Mysid. Licensing: This faithful reproduction of a lithograph plate from Gray's Anatomy, a two-dimensional work of art, is not copyrightable in the U.S. as per Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.; the same is also true in many other countries, including Germany. Unless stated otherwise, it is from the 20th U.S. edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, originally published in 1918 and therefore lapsed into the public domain. Other copies of Gray's Anatomy can be found on Bartleby and also on Yahoo!
TURMERIC FOR HEALTH
Two studies demonstrate that the tasty culinary spice, turmeric, may help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The focus of the studies was on curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, believed to be a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cell-protecting herb.
One published study revealed that curcumin may help the immune system clear the brain of amyloid beta, the cause of plaque formation on the brain in Alzheimer's patients. For this in-vitro study, blood was drawn from six Alzheimer's patients and three healthy volunteers, and immune cells called macrophages were isolated. Researchers added amyloid beta and measured how actively the macrophages attacked the amyloid beta. They also added curcumin to half of the Alzheimer's blood samples and found that it stimulated the macrophages to actively destroy the amyloid beta. The macrophages without the added curcumin were less effective in breaking down the plaque-causing substance. In the samples from those without Alzheimer's, the macrophages were effectively destroying the amyloid beta without the curcumin. Adding of curcumin did not alter their activity.
The other clinical study supported the results of the above in-vitro study - people who eat turmeric often have a 49% less chance of experiencing cognitive decline.
If you choose to take advantage of turmeric’s health advantages by taking a turmeric root extract supplement, containing 300 mg concentrated extract, providing 95% (285 mg) curcumin, the recommended therapeutic dosage is 500 to 2000 mg daily.
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD)
Many people who are energetic and outgoing during the long, sunny days of spring and summer, may find themselves melancholy, depressed, and perhaps even fatigued during the long days and dark nights of winter. These individuals may suffer from what is termed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Although this common condition can be quite debilitating, there are a number of options available, including light therapy to help alleviate those winter time blues.
Studies have shown that people who exercise are less affected by SAD and other forms of depression than those people who don't exercise. Although outdoor exercise may be difficult during the winter months, especially if you are limited to early morning or evening hours, you may want to consider using a nearby health club or creating an exercise room in your own home.
Maintaining adequate blood sugar levels throughout the day is one important way to help combat depression. Eat small, frequent meals low in processed foods and simple carbohydrates ("sugary" foods). Your diet should also contain adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains, and other sources of protein. Protein is also necessary to help provide amino acids, precursors to neurotransmitters in the brain. Adequate protein intake is 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Numerous studies have shown St. John’s wort to be effective in helping to relieve symptoms associated with SAD and other forms of depression, including apathy, feelings of worthlessness, insomnia, sleep disturbances, and anxiety.
5-HTP, a precursor to serotonin, has demonstrated its ability to be converted to serotonin and help relieve depression and insomnia. Studies have shown significant clinical response in two to four weeks at a dosage of 50 to 300 mg, three times a day.
Note: Do not combine St. John's wort or 5-HTP with any antidepressant medications without the consent of your licensed physician, naturopathic doctor, or other health care professional knowledgeable in herbs, nutrition, and pharmaceuticals.
L-tyrosine has also been shown to be effective in relieving depression, both on its own and in combination with other therapies. In a recent study, an average of one out of five people who initially responded well to 5-HTP, had a relapse of depression after only one month. These individuals responded particularly well to the addition of L-tyrosine.
B-vitamins, particularly B6, B12, and folic acid/folate, have also had an excellent track record in helping to relieve depression.
Additionally, homeopathy can be effective in facilitating the relief of symptoms of depression. Homeopathic remedies can be taken individually or in combination, and they're generally prescribed by a homeopathic doctor. Note: Homeopathic remedies should not be taken along with herbal remedies, as neither will be effective - canceling each other out
Lastly, a deficiency of essential fatty acids (EFAs) has been shown to contribute to symptoms of depression. A diet high in saturated fats and low in essential fatty acids results in decreased fluidity of cell membranes, which directly influences neurotransmitter synthesis, signal transmission, uptake of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, and neuro-transmitter binding. Most studies utilized fish oil as the source of the EFAs. A person must regularly consume fish oils for two to three months to allow the EFAs to be effectively incorporated into cell membranes.
RESTORING BRAIN CHEMISTRY
Depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, obsessive/compulsive disorders, addictions, memory loss, and even fatigue are too often considered issues of ‘mind over matter’, best treated with psychotherapy or medication. The truth is that rather than being psychologically impaired, one may simply be deficient in specific brain nutrients. The keys to your mood, behavior, and mental performance are the brain's chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, made from the nutrients that you ingest. As these messengers travel around your brain and nervous system, they help determine how well you think and feel. Here are the main players and their actions:
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid): is the cool, calming, and relaxing neurotransmitter.
Dopamine and noradrenaline (or norepinephrine): are the feel-good neurotransmitters that energize, focus, and motivate you.
Acetylcholine: helps with thinking, memory, and concentration.
Serotonin: is the happy, calming neurotransmitter that also enhances sleep.
When these neurotransmitters are out of balance, you may feel depressed, anxious, stressed, and unmotivated. You may also have impaired memory and sleep, as well as a painful condition called fibromyalgia. Balanced neurotransmitters, on the other hand, will help you feel calm, happy, and able to think and remember clearly. Additionally, you will experience less pain and sleep soundly.
You've heard the phrase, ‘You are what you eat’. This definitely applies to the brain. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as a myriad of micronutrients are needed for optimal brain function. Our ingested protein is broken down by digestive processes into its component amino acids. The important amino acids for optimal brain function are tryptophan, tyrosine, GABA, glutamine, and glycine. They are converted into neurotransmitters with the help of cofactors, or chemical helpers including vitamins B3, B6, B12, C, and folic acid/folate, and the minerals zinc, copper, and magnesium. Magnesium is a calming mineral, and its deficiency can lead to anxiety. You also need fish-oil-based omega-3 fatty acids. Fats comprise about 60% of each brain cell, providing the complex, pliable cell wall in which neurotransmitter activity takes place.
Then there's glucose (blood sugar). Your brain can use up to half of the body's glucose at any one time. That's why we feel so good when we have a sugar high - it goes right to our brain, where it's burned for fuel. The same is true of processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine. You'll get a quick high, but in a short time, your blood sugar dips and so does your mood, with resulting anxiety and depression.
In addition to foods, certain medications, including antihistamines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, narcotics, and recreational drugs can affect your brain chemistry
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
In depression, there is often a lack of mood-stabilizing serotonin, made from the essential amino acid tryptophan. This is found in protein-containing foods such as turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, avocados, bananas, and wheat germ. Supplementation with the amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), a downstream metabolite of tryptophan, can help your brain manufacture more serotonin. Fibromyalgia patients often have low levels of serotonin and 5-HTP has been helpful in relieving their symptoms by promoting deep sleep.
The "catecholamine" or stimulating neurotransmitters, adrenaline, norepinephrine, and dopamine, also found in protein foods, are the brain chemicals associated with motivation, focus, and energy. Deficiencies can result in cravings for sugar, coffee, or alcohol. The good news is that supplementation with the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine can help your brain manufacture more of the energizing catecholamines. Add in the amino acid, glutamine, which goes right to the brain, and those cravings become history. In cases of anxiety, there is a deficiency in the neurotransmitter GABA, the brain's ‘chill-factor’.
Balanced blood sugar levels, essential for sustained mood and energy, require a diet that contains complex carbohydrates as opposed to simple sugars. Micronutrients that help balance blood sugar levels include: chromium, vanadium, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), and N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC).
A complete dietary supplement should contain the more energizing amino acids; phenylalanine, glutamine, tyrosine, and DLPA, which together help improve mood, energy, and focus. It should also contain heart-healthy EPA and DHA omega-3 fish oils, which enhances mood, learning, focus, and attention, while simultaneously regulating inflammation. Also, a complete dietary supplement should include essential vitamins for optimum nutrition and brain function, such as vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and all B vitamins. Additional important micronutrients for brain function in a complete dietary supplement should include ALA, NAC, iodine, selenium, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, and choline. The detoxifying herb silymarin may also be included.
Other nutrients, vitamins and minerals to consider when choosing a dietary supplement include calming glycine, theanine, and 5-HTP amino acids, along with glutamine, which help to enhance mood, wind down from the day's activities, and experience relaxation and restful sleep. Calcium and magnesium, as well as zinc, chromium, Vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Taking a complete dietary supplement each day will go a long way in assuring a greater overall success in achieving optimum health and wellness.
BALANCE YOUR BRAIN CHEMISTRY
The human brain has received a lot of attention lately. Research shows a holistic approach to health care should encompass the brain. Think about it…would you rather be treated by several specialists who use multiple drugs, procedures, and visits over months or years, for symptoms such as irritable bowel and hyperventilation, or would you rather use Inositol and B vitamins to restore the brain chemical that is responsible for these symptoms?
Is this an oversimplification? Not really, big problems start as small ones, and we all have times when we just don't feel quite right. But when a condition persists, your body is telling you something you shouldn't ignore. By listening to your body you can stop a small problem from becoming a bigger one.
Research on brain chemistry balance and its association with health began in the 19th century, when behavior and physiology were associated with the four brain lobes - frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital. Twentieth century science further coupled four brain waves to those four lobes. Pharmaceutical science then discovered four primary brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, and explored how they, too, correlated to the lobes. These lobes were shown to be the factories where four chemicals dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin, respectively, are manufactured. Further, modern behavioral science identified four primary temperaments that correlate to each lobe; creating a clear connection between brain chemistry, behavioral temperament, and the state of our health.
All neurotransmitters are at work in every brain, but each of us has a dominant one that defines who we are. Know your temperament and you will know your dominant brain chemical:
Rationalists/Strategic Thinkers: Characterized by power and control, competence, capability, knowledge. CEOs, generals, doctors, scientists, and architects are dopamine-dominant.
Idealists/Dreamers: Characterized by reflection, self-discovery, creativity, becoming. Counselors, mediators, ministers, public service professionals, writers, artists, and actors are acetylcholinedominant.
Guardians/Traditionalists: Characterized by tradition, conformity, belonging, loyalty, commitment. Administrators, security officers, nurses, technicians, air-traffic controllers, news reporters, EMTs, and homemakers are GABA-dominant.
Artisans/Dionysians: Characterized by sensations, work-as-play, non-conformity, free thinking. Construction workers, stevedores, oil riggers, truck drivers, military personnel, hair stylists, bartenders, and pilots are serotonin-dominant.
Studies clearly connect ‘families’ of illnesses to each of the four dominant brain chemicals. The symptoms first experienced are likely caused by a deficiency in your dominant neurotransmitter. If ignored, other neurotransmitters could start to burn out trying to compensate for the deficiency. A domino effect occurs, leading to more symptoms.
If you pay attention to symptoms as soon as they manifest, ‘families’ of treatments can then be targeted to the neurotransmitter that is at the source of the complaint. These families include diet along with a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement. Food does contain a variety of nutrients affecting multiple brain chemicals; however, it can be complex. Factors such as the release of multiple neurotransmitters, inefficient digestion, and a hurried lifestyle can compromise treatment solely using food. Vitamins and supplements impact brain chemistry faster and more directly, and compensate for inefficient digestion and/or inconsistent eating habits.
What follows is a list of temperaments, symptoms, and illnesses associated with neurotransmitter deficiency, as well as recommended vitamins and supplements to help rebalance your brain chemistry.
DOPAMINE: THE ENERGY PRESCRIPTION
Like the gas in your automobile, 17% of the world's population thrives on the dopamine energy that defines the Rationalist. When low or depleted, the priority is to ‘refill the tank’.
Physical: sugar/caffeine cravings, lightheadedness, decreased strength, fatigue, pallor, diarrhea, routine-task difficulty.
Psychological: procrastination, carelessness, decreased libido, diminished self-image, hedonism, isolation.
Memory Function: inability to follow instructions and/or process information, forgetfulness, poor abstract thinking.
Attention Issues: diminished alertness, failure to complete tasks, poor concentration.
Associated Conditions/Diseases: obesity, addictions, chronic fatigue, Attention Deficit Disorder, sexual disorders, thyroid disorders, narcolepsy, Parkinson's.
Vitamins/Minerals/Dietary Supplements: chromium for blood sugar regulation; thiamin; rhodiola; L-Methionine; and dl-Phenylalanine and L-Tyrosine, which are dopamine precursors.
When you regain your dopamine edge, you are on top of everything you do, your food tastes fantastic, and everything is a source of pleasure.
Acetylcholine is like your automobile's accelerator. By providing the insulating layer around brain cells, it prevents short-circuits and ensures rapid transmission of nerve signals. Idealists are the 17% of the population defined by the neurotransmitter responsible for brain speed. There are an abundance of signals indicating acetylcholine loss well before senility sets in:
Physical: fat cravings, dry mouth, slowed reflexes, sexual dysfunction, speech problems, vision problems, problems with urination, involuntary movements.
Psychological: confused thinking, indecision, personality changes, mood swings, rebelliousness.
Memory Function: memory lapses, loss of visual and verbal memory, memory disturbance.
Attention Issues: difficulty concentrating, diminished comprehension, impaired creativity, reading/ writing difficulties.
Associated Conditions/Diseases: dyslexia, learning disorders, arthritis, osteoporosis, glaucoma, diabetes, stroke, senility, Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis.
Vitamins/Minerals/Dietary Supplements: Choline; Phosphotidyl serine; lipoic and conjugated linoleic acids; fish oil; N-acetyl L-Carnitine (NAC); Phosphotidyl choline, which imitates acetycholine; and memoryenhancers, Vinpocetine and huperzine-A. NAC, Phosphotidyl choline, and huperzine-A, which all help the mind stay sharp.
When your thinking is crystal clear, without a loss regarding what to do and how to do it, and when others are motivated along with you, your acetylcholine edge is in full force.
GABA functions like your car's brakes, which ensure a steady ride and prevent crashes. Almost 50% of the population is defined by the neurotransmitter that calms by keeping all of our brainwaves in balance. When there's a deficiency, brainwaves lose rhythm or balance with each other:
Physical: Carbohydrate craving, flushing, butterflies in stomach, lump in throat, ringing in ear, muscle tension, trembling, twitching, numbness or tingling in fingers, blurred vision, hyperventilation, abnormal sense of smell, unusual allergies, night sweats, tachycardia, chest pain or discomfort.
Psychological: restlessness, feelings of dread, emotional immaturity, short temper, phobias.
Memory Function: poor verbal memory.
Attention Issues: impulsiveness, disorganization.
Associated Conditions/Diseases: tinnitus, anxiety, hypertension, chronic pain, cystitis, irritable bowel and other gastro-intestinal disorders, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), seizures, stroke, manic depression/bipolar disorder.
Vitamins/Supplements: inositol, which calms by raising GABA levels; thiamin; riboflavin; branched-chain amino acids; GABA; Glycine; Kava, an anti-anxiety herb; sedating Valerian root; and relaxing Passion flower.
When you are in your element, methodically accomplishing daily tasks, and helping others to do likewise, without being the center of attention, you are experiencing the GABA edge.
Serotonin is like the alternator in your car, recharging your brain and body so it is able to handle a new workload every day. The remaining 17% of the population are Artisans.
A serotonin deficiency shows up as diminished brainwave symmetry; a disconnect between the right and left sides and a breakdown in the mind-body connection. A depleted battery in your body has distinct signals:
Physical: salt cravings, backache, headache, cold or clammy hands, shortness of breath, drug reactions, premature ejaculation, yawning, sleep disturbances.
Psychological: impulsiveness, hyper vigilance, high pain/pleasure threshold, depersonalization, lack of common sense, rage.
Memory Function: visual memory deficiency.
Attention Issues: slow reactions, restlessness, lack of concentration.
Associated Conditions/Diseases: premenstrual syndrome (PMS), phobias, insomnia, depression, Obsessive/Compulsive Disorders (OCD’s).
Vitamins/Minerals/Dietary Supplements: For comprehensive mood stabilizing support, Brain Mood blends thiamin, Niacinamide, folic acid, vitamin B12, Pantothenic acid, plus St. John's Wort and 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan, both anti-depressants. Other supportive supplements include fish oil, melatonin for insomnia, SAMe, and vitamin B6.
Feelings of serenity throughout the day, even in work tasks that others would consider tedious, represent the serotonin edge. Everything, from accomplishment on the job to connection to others to personal enjoyment, is within your grasp.
THE PATH TO OPTIMUM HEALTH
If you pay close attention to early signs, you can use proper nutrition and dietary supplements, along with lifestyle changes, exercise, and relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga, to hone your edge and stay sharp, on the job, at play, and in relationships. You can have a peaceful mind, a powerful and healthy body, and a fulfilled soul.
NATURAL RESEARCH: GRAPESEED EXTRACT MAY REDUCE RISK OF ALZHEIMER'S
Though it may not be public knowledge, there exists a mouse bred solely for the purpose of researching Alzheimer's disease. In the July issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, a study was published that features these unusual mice, their brains' response to consuming grape seed extract, and the extract's influential role in Alzheimer's Disease.
Alzheimer's is caused by the build up of plaque from beta-amyloid deposits in the brain, resulting in damaged brain cells and progressive dementia. Over 13 million people worldwide suffer from this heart breaking disease.
The dietary supplement, grape seed extract, contains high levels of polyphenols, a nutrient also found in red wine and thought to provide health benefits. These potent antioxidants have been shown in in vitro studies to prevent the accumulation of the beta-amyloid deposits, thus averting the build up of plaque. Researchers at the Mount Sinai's Center of Excellence studied the effect of grape seed extract on the Alzheimer's Disease-prone mice. When the mice consumed the extract, their incidence of developing the disease decreased significantly.
Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti from the Mount Sinai study said, "The implications of these studies, however, are not limited to patients suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. In fact, amyloid is present in everyone's brain. Grape seed extract might even help prevent memory loss in people who have not yet developed Alzheimer's Disease".
FIGHT OFF THE 'BLUES' WITH PROPER NUTRITION
Do you or someone you know experience persistent feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, or a loss of interest in everyday activities? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.8 million U.S. adults suffer from major depression. The monetary cost of mood disorders can be devastating with estimates in the tens of billions of dollars. Although medical advancements have been made, pharmaceutical solutions are not delivering the results hoped for due to limited efficacy, noncompliance, and undesirable side effects.
DOES DIET REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
The answer is a resounding Yes! "Fish eating" countries such as Norway have a much smaller incidence of depression. Why? Because omega-3 fatty acids (like those found abundantly in cold water fish) are essential for the proper functioning of our cells. Low levels of DHA in adults are associated with depression, moodiness, and irritability. Scientific research supports these findings even correlating the severity of depression with the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in both the diet and the red blood cell membranes.
FISH: THE CATCH OF THE DAY
Fish is both a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids and a direct source of DHA, but may contain a fair amount of mercury. Farm raised fish should be avoided because they are typically fed hormones and antibiotics, and because farm raised fish generally have a ‘colorless’ flesh, a red coloring is added to give the fish fillet that ‘healthy pink coloring’. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fresh greens, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and eggs. Due to modern food processing techniques and the fact that our bodies can be hampered in its DHA conversion process from food sources, few people get enough DHA through diet alone. For this reason, it is suggested that a person take a high quality fish oil supplement every day. In a recent report in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers demonstrated a remarkable 50 percent reduction in the standard Hamilton Depression Rating Scale in 54 percent of the research subjects taking a fish oil supplement with DHA, providing scientific proof that DHA can elevate mood.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT
Choosing the right fish oil supplement is very important for two reasons. Fish oil absolutely needs to be free from environmental pollutants, as well as being fresh. If you are unsure as to the quality of a certain fish oil supplement, check directly with the manufacturer (they often have a toll free number or web address on the label). The manufacturer should be able to assure you, the consumer, that they surpass all national and international standards for freshness and purity and are free from heavy metals and environmental toxins.
VITAMIN B HELPS CHASE AWAY THE BLUES
If you are irritable and unhappy, chances are you are low on one or more B vitamins. This is typical among people suffering from depression, memory problems, and dementia. Foods rich in B vitamins include meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, fortified cereals, and, in lesser amounts, fruits and vegetables. Because B vitamins can be fragile, sensitive to high heat and microwaves, it is recommend that everyone take a basic B-complex supplement. Taking certain kinds of prescription drugs or following a strict vegan diet can also put you at risk for deficiency.
When you finally make that connection between what you eat and how you feel, there is enormous opportunity for healthy functioning within the body. Simple changes to the diet and the addition of quality supplements can bring enormous changes to your quality of life.
AVOIDING THOSE WINTER BLUES
Winter - It's a word that causes immediate anxiety for many people. The prospect of having to scrape icy windshields or shovel snow from walks and driveways is daunting enough. However, the autumn and winter months bring increasingly overcast skies, resulting in fewer hours of daylight. The situation is further compounded by the fact that, in late October, clocks are turned back one hour as we return to Standard time. Many, because of this lack of light, may occasionally experience the ‘winter blues’. However, certain individuals may experience these winter blues more acutely, and fall victim to the depressive malady known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Studies have shown that SAD affects three to 10 percent of the population. In North America, the condition appears to afflict women more often than men, four to one. Increasing northern latitude may have a direct correlation with the incidence of SAD, although this has not been conclusively shown. Typical symptoms and manifestations of SAD include lethargy, excessive sleepiness, overeating, craving of carbohydrates, and weight gain. A significant minority of people with SAD report the more typical vegetative symptoms of decreased appetite, sleep loss, and weight loss. These symptoms, in some cases, can last as long as five months.
In addition to accurate medical diagnosis and clinical care, diet and exercise may provide some relief from SAD, with pharmacotherapy for more severe cases. However, what appears to offer the most relief, is bright-light therapy.
Bright-light therapy involves the use of a specially designed lamp that produces an intense luminescence within the daylight spectrum. For optimal benefit, such a lamp should operate at an intensity of 10,000 lux. The light should consist of the full daylight spectrum or of white light, with filtering of ultraviolet light to avoid harmful effects on the eyes and skin. In addition, The Canadian Consensus Guidelines for the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) states that individuals should be cautioned against using incandescent halogen light. These may carry a greater "blue-light hazard" if allowed to shine directly into the eyes.
Lamps that help alleviate SAD are available from various manufacturers in desk or floor lamps, light boxes, or visors. Ordinarily, the light delivered by a lamp-type device is used in an indirect manner, for reading or doing paperwork. Thirty minutes of daily exposure to a 10,000 lux lamp is suggested. Lamps that deliver light of lower intensity are also available, but require lengthier exposure to produce the same benefits as those that provide more intense light. Manufacturers of SAD lamps provide a recommended distance at which specific models should be used. Light therapy should begin in the early morning, at the time of awakening, to maximize its efficacy, although exposure at other times may be effective for some.
Bright-light therapy has proven an effective method of relieving symptoms associated with SAD. It typically is the therapy of choice among physicians and other specialists. It is also used to relieve various circadian rhythm disruptions, such as those resulting from jet lag, shift work, and certain sleep disorders. Recent findings suggest that it may even be effective for alleviating non-seasonal related depression and other psychiatric disorders, including premenstrual depression, panic disorder, bulimia, alcoholism, obsessive/compulsive disorders, and behavioral disorders related to dementia.
VITAMIN B12 AND FOLIC ACID LOWERS HOMOCYSTEINE AND IMPROVES COGNITION
Homocysteine, an amino acid, is best known for being a predictor of atherosclerosis. The damage that this amino acid does on blood vessels of the heart also seems to have a negative impact on the delivery of blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain. The relationship between homocysteine levels and cognitive function was explored in a study, recently published in the December 2008 issue of Clinical Nutrition, and a link between elevated levels of homocysteine and cognitive decline was seen.
Ninety nine Japanese men and women, whose average age was 75 and who did not take vitamin supplements, were evaluated for cognitive function and their blood measured for homocysteine, folic acid, and B12 levels. Researchers found that low folic acid and B12 levels correlated with high homocysteine levels. Aging, high homocysteine levels, low folic acid, and B12 levels are all associated with poor cognition. It was also found that low folic acid and B12 levels were each independently associated with cognitive decline.
Supplementation with B12 and folic acid can help lower homocysteine levels and may help prevent cognitive decline with age.
SLOW OR PREVENT PARKINSON'S DISEASE
Parkinson's disease is a neuro-degenerative disease of the motor and sensory neurons. The first noticeable sign of the disease is usually a tremor in a limb that can progress into slowness of movement, rigidity, and posture instability with impaired walking. Thirty-five percent of those with Parkinson's disease also develop dementia, a loss of cognitive function due to changes in the brain caused by disease or trauma. The progress of the Parkinson's disease is slow, yet unrelenting. In addition, by the time any clinical symptoms are present, there has already been a significant amount of damage to the cells in the brain. However, recent understanding of the actual mechanisms of Parkinson's has generated effective therapies that can slow progression and reduce symptoms of the disease.
All cells in our body have energy powerhouses called mitochondria. A side effect of energy production within the mitochondria is the manufacture of free radicals, reactive molecules that can damage the cell and surrounding tissue. Normally, our bodies have antioxidant mechanisms to defend itself against free radicals and prevent damage. However, Parkinson's disease damages the mitochondria, allowing more free radicals to escape. This may also lead to insufficient production of antioxidants. This can further damage the mitochondria, resulting in less energy production and, eventually, cell death. With Parkinson's, this cell death happens to neurons in a particular part of the brain that is responsible for producing dopamine, a molecule that helps coordinate muscular movements.
So, how is the mitochondria damaged in the first place? It may be the result of a genetic problem with the mitochondria or with detoxifying enzymes in the liver or brain. Or, environmental toxins such as pesticides, herbicides, drugs, and heavy metals, may have overwhelmed the body's antioxidant capacity. Also, as we age, our bodies naturally produce less protective antioxidants.
The goals of therapy are to stop, or at least slow, the progression of the disease and to enhance mitochondria function. This is accomplished by optimizing detoxification systems, supplying antioxidants, and helping to rebuild the structure of the mitochondria.
CoQ10: is an antioxidant and also assists in the mitochondria's energy production. A recent study showed that a daily dose of 300 to 1200 mg of a special form of CoQ10 (from Vitaline) reduced the progression of Parkinson's significantly, the greatest benefit being at 1200 mg.
A combination of vitamin C (3 grams per day) and vitamin E (3200 i.u. per day) has proven to delay the need for drugs by 25 to 35 months (monitor your bleeding times with your doctor at this dosage of vitamin E). Other antioxidants shown to be of benefit include N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Ginkgo Biloba.
NADH: effectively raises the level of dopamine in the brain, reducing symptoms and improving brain function in people with Parkinson's. One researcher has recommended 5 mg two times per day.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine: also helps rebuild and protect the mitochondria while increasing its ability to produce energy.
Phosphatidylserine: a component of the mitochondrial membrane, has been shown to improve energy flow in the brain, especially supporting mood and mental function.
Also showing promise is:
Creatine: helping energy production in the mitochondria and also providing antioxidant support. Some doctors have recommended 3 to 5 grams one to two times per day.
While Parkinson's disease is most often a slowly progressive disease, the appropriate therapies can slow the process and even provide significant symptom relief. The fact that clinical symptoms of Parkinson's disease appear after much damage has already occurred is just one more reason to focus on prevention. Identifying and avoiding environmental triggers and protecting ourselves through the use of antioxidants, detoxification nutrients, and a variety of other nutrients, will protect and enhance our neurological performance.
RESVERATROL AND BRAIN HEALTH
One of the biggest obstacles in holistic medicine is cultivating the science behind the way that herbs and nutrients work in the body. Some categories have been researched more than others, such as herbs like Echinacea and nutrients such as selenium, and we have a fairly good understanding of how they function in human physiology. But for many nutrients and herbs, we are less certain about their mechanism of action, despite the clinical evidence of their benefits. The gaps in our scientific understanding are obstacles when mainstream medicine challenges our profession and asks for proof that a supplement works. So it is always interesting when research provides us with a glimpse of the inner mechanisms of dietary supplements.
This recent study on trans-resveratrol, by researchers from Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, gives us one of those glimpses to help answer the question of:
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Resveratrol is a chemical found in red wine, which may be responsible for the heart healthy reputation of this delicious beverage. It is a potent antioxidant with a reputation for protecting blood vessels, reducing "bad" cholesterol, and benefiting our health in several ways. This study investigated how trans-resveratrol affects blood flow and cognitive function. Twenty two volunteers took placebo and two single doses of resveratrol (250 mg and 500 mg), each on separate days. With each of the three doses, researchers measured cognitive function by testing the volunteers with particular tasks. They also measured blood flow to the brain by testing for blood oxygen levels after the doses.
The researchers found that the larger the dose of resveratrol, the better the blood flow. Increasing oxygen delivery to the brain is a key component for cognitive function. This test did not reflect an improvement in cognitive function with just a single dose, but its promising results regarding the blood flow suggests that later research may find that long-term supplementation of resveratrol could have a positive effect on the brain.
NUTRITION AND ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE (AD)
As we move forward into the 21st century, we are witnessing a staggering increase in dementia illnesses. Approximately 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. By the year 2030, it is estimated that this number will approach 9 million.
Our society focuses on treating disease, with little attention paid to prevention. But in fact, Alzheimer's disease can be prevented.
While it is widely recognized that the process of inflammation accounts for the tissue destruction in diseases like arthritis, acknowledging the role of inflammation related to Alzheimer's disease is somehow more difficult. Nevertheless, the current understanding of Alzheimer's disease holds that The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease result from failure of neurons that have been damaged or destroyed by free radicals as a result of inflammation.
This is supported by several studies showing higher levels of inflammation-specific chemicals, known as cytokines, in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Studies also reveal a reduced risk of the disease in individuals who have been treated with the common class of arthritis medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or aspirin.
A 1999 report from the Department of Neurology and Clinical Chemistry at the University of Heidelberg, revealed that after Alzheimer's disease, the second most frequent cause of dementia in the elderly, was so called ‘vascular dementia’, or brain dysfunction, a result of disease of the small blood vessels. Even more striking, was the finding of elevation of a particular chemical in the blood of these individuals called homocysteine. Blood homocysteine levels are directly related to intake of the B-complex group of vitamins, specifically, vitamins B6, and B12, as well as folic acid/folate. The conclusion of the report provided very strong support for the effectiveness of dietary supplementation with the B-complex group of vitamins in reducing risk of dementia.
To be effective, therapy for Alzheimer's disease must achieve four tasks - reduce inflammation, limit damaging effects of free radicals, enhance neuronal function, and reduce homocysteine.
Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids (EFAs) are key to reducing inflammation and are an integral part of our protocol for Alzheimer's disease. The best source of omega-3 fats are fish oils, the potency of which is determined by its DHA content. The greatest sources for omega-6 oils are borage seed oil and evening primrose oil. Potency of the omega-6 group is determined by the content of GLA. Zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B3 and B6 enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of both of these essential fatty acids.
LIMITING FREE RADICAL ACTIVITY
Vitamin E: The utilization of antioxidants to limit the activity of free radicals as therapy for Alzheimer's disease has been extensively evaluated over the past decade. Perhaps the most widely studied is vitamin E - a good candidate not only because of its powerful antioxidant activity, but also because of its high fat solubility. This feature is crucial since not only is the brain more than 60% fat, but it is the fat component that is at the highest risk for free radical damage.
Ginkgo Biloba: Perhaps the most convincing validation of Ginkgo Biloba's effectiveness may be found in a 1997 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The progress of over 200 Alzheimer's patients was evaluated over a 1-year period. Half the group received Ginkgo Biloba, while the other half received a placebo. At the completion of the study, the placebo group showed a progressive decline in mental function on a standardized psychological test, while the group receiving Ginkgo, on average, actually improved. The authors concluded that Ginkgo Biloba was, "safe and appears capable of stabilizing and, in a substantial number of cases, improving the cognitive performance and the social functioning of demented patients for 6 months to 1 year".
Alpha Lipoic Acid: Lipoic Acid is a powerful anti-oxidant that is rapidly absorbed from the gut and readily enters the brain to protect neurons from free radical damage. Further antioxidant protection is derived from its ability to recycle vitamins C and E, and regenerate glutathione, one of the brain's most important antioxidants.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC): In addition to increasing glutathione, NAC has an important antioxidant role in and of itself. One of the most damaging free radicals implicated in Alzheimer's disease is nitric oxide. Nitric oxide production is directly reduced by NAC.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D has been shown to have even more potency as an antioxidant when compared to vitamin E. Remarkably, in a Japanese study published in 1998, it was found that moderate to severe deficiencies of vitamin D were found in 80% of Alzheimer's patients studied.
ENHANCING NEURONAL FUNCTION
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Coenzyme Q10 supplementation has been shown to enhance energy production in brain neurons and thus improve function. This powerful antioxidant has also demonstrated its ability to reduce the progression of Parkinson's disease by more than 40%. Isn't it then critically important to recognize that two of the most widely prescribed cholesterol lowering drugs, pravastatin (Pravachol®) and lovastatin (Mevacor®), can significantly lower serum coenzyme Q10 levels?
Acetyl-L-carnitine: Acetyl-L-carnitine is readily converted into an important neurotransmitter (brain chemical messenger) known as acetylcholine, proven to be profoundly deficient in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Its second task is to facilitate the removal of the toxic by-products of brain metabolism.
Phosphatidylserine: Phosphatidylserine is one of the key constituents of neuronal membranes—the site where brain cells both receive and transmit chemical messages. Abnormalities of the neuronal membrane have been linked to age-related functional changes in brain performance.
Vitamin B12: Standard medical texts have long reported that vitamin B12 is a critical factor for preservation of normal brain function. Its deficiency is associated with confusion, depression, mental slowness, memory difficulties, and abnormalities of nerve function. Several studies have demonstrated that patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease generally have significantly lower blood levels of vitamin B12 compared to age-matched, nonafflicted individuals. B12 helps prevent the accumulation of homocysteine, which, when elevated, markedly increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease.
Folic Acid/Folate: Folic acid levels are often markedly depressed in patients suffering from dementia or confusional states. Deficiency of folic acid is associated with apathy, disorientation, memory deficits, and difficulties with concentration. Several studies have correlated low folic acid levels with dementia. Again, the mechanism may involve elevation of homocysteine since like vitamin B12, folic acid helps lower this blood vessel damaging amino acid.
LIFESTYLE AND ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE (AD)
In late July 2008, the International Conference on Alzheimer's disease (AD) convened in Chicago, IL. Over 5,000 researchers from 60 countries shared the information they had garnered from their studies on AD's cause, treatment, and prevention. Two intriguing psychological factors were revealed: a person's relationship status after mid-life and their habits of ruminating or repeatedly thinking over personal and professional problems.
Although many married couples will claim that their spouse ‘drives them crazy’, quite the opposite is true. Researchers revealed that those who were married or lived with a significant other in midlife had a 50% lower risk of dementia as they aged, as compared to single folks. The data for this research came from the Finnish Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Dementia (CAIDE) study, which followed 1,449 participants over 20+ years. Being married at mid-life was associated with the lowest risk of dementia. Comparatively, those who were single for their entire life had double the risk for cognitive decline, those who were married, then divorced and stayed single after midlife had triple the risk, and those who were widowed before midlife, and then stayed single had a six-fold risk of developing AD. These results are quite profound, especially considering the researchers adjusted for many of the health risks associated with cognitive decline, including Body Mass Index (BMI), cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and smoking; and social factors, such as education, gender, and depression.
Consistent social interaction is one way to keep dementia at bay. Being married or living with a partner ensures constant interaction, keeping the brain active and healthy. Even the less pleasant parts of marriage, such as the occasional argument, serve to exercise communication and language skills.
Rumination, or repetitive thinking about a particular problem, may not be very Zen-like, but apparently it provides some benefit to brain health. An Israeli study that spanned 30 years assessed cognitive function in over 1,800 men who averaged 82 years of age. It found that men who have the tendency to ruminate over personal or family problems had a 14% prevalence rate for dementia, versus 18- 21% for those who did not ruminate, or forgot. In regard to professional matters, there was a 15% prevalence rate for those who ruminated, and a 19 -24% rate for those who did not. When the categories (subjects) of family and professional were combined, there was a 30-40% decreased risk of dementia in those who ruminated most.
Metabolic Syndrome, or Syndrome X, has been shown in a study from Brazil to be highly correlated with increased risk of cognitive decline. Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of health problems, specifically abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and elevated blood sugar, known to increase risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Researchers in Brazil conducted a study with 422 healthy men and women over age 60. They found that about 40% of that group had Metabolic Syndrome, and that those people had lower scores on cognitive testing as compared to the men and women who did not have Metabolic Syndrome. Those with Metabolic Syndrome had more depressive symptoms and lower cognitive, planning, and neuro-functional scores.
GRAPE SEED MAY IMPROVE MEMORY, REDUCE RISK OF ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE (AD)
Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is caused by the build up of plaque from beta-amyloid deposits in the brain, resulting in damaged brain cells and progressive dementia. Worldwide, over 13 million people suffer from this slowly devastating disease.
Grape seed contains high levels of potent antioxidants called polyphenols, which are thought to provide health benefits. In in vitro studies, polyphenols have been shown to prevent the accumulation of the beta-amyloid deposits, thus helping to ward off the build up of plaque in the brain. Researchers at the highly esteemed Mount Sinai's Center of Excellence studied the effect of grape seed extract on mice solely bred for the research of AD. When the AD-prone mice consumed the grape seed extract, their incidence of developing the disease decreased significantly.
Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti from the Mount Sinai study said, "The implications of these studies, however, are not limited to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). In fact, beta-amyloid deposits are present in everyone's brain…grape seed extract may help prevent memory loss in people who have not yet developed Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)”.
When purchasing grape seed extract make sure that it is standardized to contain 95% polyphenols, including the potent procyanidolic oligomers (PCOs) antioxidant.
COGNITION THROUGH PROPER NUTRITION
Sources of damage to brain and nerve cells are ubiquitous in modern society. Cumulative research shows inner-organizing free-radical production in the absence of adequate antioxidant defenses. Other threats are recreational drugs, especially alcohol (which can devastate the brain), cigarette smoke, many pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, organochlorines, and other pollutant chemicals. Emotional stress also exacts a toll on the nerve tissues, largely through the release of glucocorticoid hormones, like cortisol. Most recently homocysteine, a product of metabolism with great potential for toxicity, has been linked to atherosclerosis with impaired blood delivery to the brain, as well as to nerve network loss in the brain cortex.
All these stress factors come together to place wear and tear on the brain and contribute to its aging. Likewise, we now know there are nutrients that support all the known pathways through which peripheral nerve cells and circuits can be supported as they recover from damage.
Nutrients support the functions of a healthy brain by protecting against toxic damage and slowing age-related brain decline. They help rebuild peripheral nerves and the central nervous system, and they support nerve tissue renewal following damage. Nutrients operate through diverse mechanisms and help facilitate brain oxygenation, remyelination (the repair of the nerve's protective myelin sheath), circuit integration, and antioxidant defense.
Well-controlled clinical research has proven nutrients have more universal, holistic benefits for the brain than any other drug. When taken in the form of a dietary supplement, nutrients are a key building block for nerve cells. By building cell membranes, nutrients revitalize the cells of the brain, forming connections and rebuilding circuits. Seventeen double-blind trials showed nutrients help improve the brain's electrical rhythms and reverse age-related memory decline, notably in those with Alzheimer's and dementia. Nutrients also ease anxiety and assist in lifting depression; benefits motor functions in Parkinson's patients; and generally improves learning, concentration, and word skills. Able to help enhance brain function in all ages with proven safety and tolerability, this powerful nutrient may be the key to help turn back the clock on brain aging that our modern society has been looking for.
With nearly 3,000 total research papers published, at least 64 of which were clinical studies on humans, nutrients are reportedly an exceptional brain booster. These extensive findings, published in peer-reviewed mainstream scientific journals, suggest that nutrients work consistently and safely, which may be due to the fact that they are intrinsic to all the body's cells. By boosting membrane functions in cells throughout the brain, nutrients appear to simultaneously increase many nerve transmitters, while also increasing their coordinated effects across the entire brain. Researchers feel that nutrient studies have clearly shown they can reverse brain decline.
Brain power is further enhanced with PhosphatidylCholine (PC), PhosphatidylEthanolamine (PE), and Phosphatidyl Inositol (PI). These phospholipids are nutrient-related and are reportedly additional building blocks for nerve cell membranes. Their presence helps synergize the actions of nutrients on brain performance. The herb ginkgo biloba is recognized to effectively increase blood flow to the brain. Other brain boosting nutrients include taurine, l-glutamine, l-glycine, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate/folic acid. These nutrients generally support brain energetics and help recycle the potentially hazardous homocysteine.
Nutrients are designed to support nerve cell membrane and nuclear repair, remyelination, neural plasticity and de novo (new) nerve tract regrowth following damage from any source. Dietary supplements containing alpha lipoic acid are recommended for neuropathy, plus the power of glutathione, whose precursors are the core regulatory antioxidants for just about all known cells. Other dietary supplement ingredients to defeat homocysteine's threat to nerve cell integrity are inositol, an under-recognized nerve cell nutrient; folate/folic acid (an early indicator of folic acid deficiency is nerve abnormalities, which result in signs of demyelination. In addition, low blood folate is associated with marked signs of mental insufficiency, including but not limited to poor mental focus, distractibility, and mental fatigue). Supplementation of folate/folic acid often produces marked improvement of these nerve tissue dysfunctions. Vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, l-glutamine, and inositol are also good nutrients to look for when choosing a comprehensive nerve tissue support formula.
If environmental toxins, sustained emotional stress, and unhealthy lifestyle choices are concerns of yours and you are ready to address them, you may want to consider the collective nutritional benefits of a daily dietary supplement.
THE ROOTS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER (formerly Manic Depression)
Bipolar disorder, formerly referred to as manic depression, arises in people with a genetic vulnerability to the illness. Only recently have scientists begun to unearth clues as to its origin, which very likely arises from a combination of insulin resistance and inflammation of the brain.
Insulin resistance, which is the basis for type II diabetes, is a condition in which cells are fed too much glucose, or blood sugar, well after they have reached full capacity for fuel. Glucose is being forced into the cell because the blood is simply too loaded with sugar. Eventually, the cells say, "No more!" They block their own doors and windows—the insulin receptors on the exterior of the cell—and become "resistant" to insulin. Without insulin, cells die. Also, insulin signaling within the cell becomes disrupted and cells begin to malfunction. That includes the cells in the brain.
Insulin resistance is the basis for metabolic syndrome, a condition in which a person suffers from increased weight, as well as high blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and insulin. Metabolic syndrome predisposes a person to diabetes, heart disease, and several forms of cancer. It is also directly linked to Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders. Now scientists are finding that insulin resistance, and in some cases, metabolic syndrome, is linked to bipolar disorder.
In the October 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, M.J. Friedrich noted the following: "Known best for its role in the body as a regulator of blood glucose levels and fatty acid storage, insulin also acts in the brain to aid memory and thinking. Thus, when insulin regulation is disrupted, as it is in many common medical conditions, including obesity and diabetes, the risk for cognitive impairment rises."
The July 2006 Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported, Bipolar disorder and metabolic syndrome share features of hormonal, immunologic, and autonomic nervous system dysregulation." Insulin resistance can spread from body cells to the nervous system and the brain. Once it affects the brain, it alters the way cells function.
The brain is constantly passing whole bundles of information from neuron to neuron. Among the carriers of these packets of information are substances known as neurotransmitters. One of these is glutamate, a chemical neurotransmitter that causes states of arousal, excitement, and even mania.
Within the brain's cells, neurotransmitter production is regulated by sets of chemical enzymes known as kinases. One of these kinases, specifically GSK3, regulates production of a couple of different neurotransmitters, including glutamate. GSK3 is regulated itself by insulin. As insulin function becomes impaired in the brain, GSK3 becomes elevated, which in turn produces more glutamate, which triggers states of excitement and mania. As mania increases, the brain races, neurotransmission increases dramatically, making the person think and speak rapidly. Brilliant ideas appear to flash across the rippled cortexes of the brain. The person feels empowered beyond imagination. Everything is beautiful. Everything makes sense. The world can finally be grasped. Many believe that if they tried hard enough, they could fly. But brain chemistry cannot stay in overdrive forever. Eventually, it must crash. And when it does, glutamate production finally falls and the person plummets into depression.
Other neurotransmitters play a role as well. In manic depression, levels of serotonin—the neurotransmitter that is responsible for our sense of well being, optimism, ability to concentrate, and deep sleep—also fall. Dopamine, the chemical neurotransmitter responsible for rapid action, can become relatively elevated, causing anxiety to increase. The net effect is depression and anxiety, which sometimes lead to even more intense states of fear.
All of this disruption within the brain is triggered by insulin resistance, which itself creates a cascade of cellular changes, all of which make the brain function abnormally.
Insulin resistance is essentially an acidic condition. Lithium, the drug often prescribed for bipolar, is a salt and highly alkaline, which balances the effects of the insulin resistance in the brain. In fact, it is very similar in chemical composition to sodium, also highly alkaline. It is well known that lithium can interfere with sodium regulation in the kidneys, which is one reason those on lithium must be monitored closely with regular blood tests.
For decades, lithium was used without anyone knowing why it worked to the extent that it does. Scientists recently learned, however, that lithium deactivates GSK3, which reduces glutamate levels in the brain. When glutamate levels are reduced, the person no longer has the chemical imbalance needed to create mania (the highs) associated with bipolar disorder. However, this will not treat the person's depression. Serotonin will still be low, which will sustain the depression.
Here are some recommendations on how to balance blood sugar and, ultimately, brain chemistry:
Eat three servings of whole grains, such as brown rice, millet, barley, and quinoa, daily. These grains are all slowly absorbed in the bloodstream and will gradually elevate brain levels of serotonin. Sugar and alcohol create dramatic highs and lows in blood sugar and brain levels of serotonin. Whole grains, on the other hand, keep serotonin elevated over many hours. Eventually, the brain will recognize the high levels of serotonin as normal and will form a new baseline. At that point, the brain itself will sustain higher levels of serotonin as its normal baseline, and thus sustain higher mood.
Also, eat seven to 12 servings of vegetables every day. Green and leafy vegetables, like broccoli and kale (at least four servings), round and sweet vegetables, like onions and cabbage (at least two servings), and roots, like carrots and sweet potatoes (at least two servings), should be eaten daily. Also, add miso soup, pickles, and sauerkraut regularly throughout the week. The vegetables, miso, and pickles will further alkalize the blood and help control insulin levels.
Many with bipolar use sugar, chocolate, processed foods, alcohol, and marijuana to self-medicate. All of these substances increase acidity in the blood and form the basis for insulin resistance. Consuming less of these foods will reduce acidity, and can be replaced with eating small servings of cooked fruit and other healthy desserts three or four times per week.
Another element of balancing blood sugar is physical exercise. Walking, some form of sports activity, dancing, chi gong, tai chi chuan, or some other martial art every day. Exercise is essential, because it balances insulin levels and increases insulin sensitivity in cells.
Finally, be sure to stay on medication. Keep your doctor informed of the changes in diet and lifestyle for they will need to monitor your blood for any changes that may be needed in medication.
Bear in mind rebalancing brain chemistry can take time. While you can feel better in as soon as two weeks, it will take a year of consistent mindfulness to improving diet and lifestyle to make more permanent shifts in brain chemistry. The good news is this attention will level off insulin, and the brain will start to function in a more balanced and peaceful manner.