Your brain is unequivocally your most important possession. Without it, well obviously there is no “you.” But what do you do to protect it? This is a question you may have never even pondered, but maybe you should. Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, for example, are on the rise. According to the CDC, in 2013 as many as five million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease and at the current rate of growth, by the year 2050 this number is projected to rise to 14 million people! An increase of almost 300%!
To understand how to impact brain health lets briefly discuss its development. At birth the brainstem is 100% fully formed whereas the brain itself is only 25% formed. The brainstem is the most primitive part of the brain, but its primary function is maintaining body systems from heart rate and blood pressure to breathing. Interestingly enough, the process that builds the other 75% of the brain is actually movement! There are special fibers called intrafusal fibers and muscle spindles in your postural muscles that literally provide the information necessary to develop the brain. Ever wonder why kids are so active?
Did you know health maintenance, not educated thoughts, (language, etc.) is the primary function of the brain? Consider for a moment that every single one of your approximately 64 trillion cells in your body is dependent on its connection with the brain to function. Those cells need information constantly to survive, thrive and (when necessary) eliminate themselves. Even maintaining your bodies core temperature is a higher priority for the brain than your consciousness or how to solve the world’s problems.
So, to keep your prized possession as safe as possible, there are a few things we can do to minimize the risk of these scary neurodegenerative diseases.
The best way to ensure you will not develop a neurodegenerative disease is to never have another birthday. That was obviously a bad joke, the aging process cannot be stopped. But what if we could slow it down? Physiological aging takes place through the accumulation of stress. Not just the kind of stress that comes from work and children. In this case we are talking about oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is chemical stress that ages the cells of your body. Chemical stress occurs when your cells can’t detoxify as fast as your body and environment are creating those toxins. This process creates “free radicals” which upset the electron balance of cells damaging them. Eat a diet rich in antioxidants to fight these effects. Also avoid foods that are overly inflammatory, i.e. too many grains, starches, excess dairy and sugar.
The balance of Omega Three and Six fatty acids are also extremely important! Most diets, especially western, have a significantly higher amount of Omega Six vs. Three. A brain (and heart) healthy ratio is four to one, but most western diets range between 15:1 and 17:1! For reference, the brain stops working normally around 10:1! Find a good Omega Three supplement from a quality source. As with many other supplements, if you get the cheap stuff you might as well eat the bottle.
You didn’t think I was going to write an article without mentioning chiropractic, did you? Now before you stop reading did you know your brain had a waste management system? It’s called the “Glymphatic System” (no that’s not a typo). Cerebral Spinal Fluid has an imperative role in cleaning the waste products out of the brain. Think of it as OxiClean for your brain. If the glymphatic system is not doing its job properly due to a choke point at the top of the spine, serious consequences may eventually occur. The brain must purge just like any other body system. There is a rapidly growing body of research pointing to the correlation between upper cervical misalignment and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia. Upper cervical specific chiropractic is a great line of defense against these diseases. If you or a loved one already have one, we may be able to help. But it works even better for prevention. Remember, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Ben Franklin.
This article could go on forever and it’s a very incomplete list. But here’s a recap of what we covered today. For the health and longevity of your brain:
1) Keep your mind AND body stimulated. Exercise them BOTH
2) Give your brain the right fuel, high in antioxidants and low sugar, starch, dairy and grain
3) Get fishy with it! Omega Three’s will help lift the brain fog
4) Get your head on straight, make sure your brain’s garbage dump can drain properly. Upper cervical chiropractic can help you with that!
If you have questions or would like to discuss how we can help you or loved one with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Dementia, etc. please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here for your health.
Dr. W.C. Verch runs Carolina West Clinic of Chiropractic, 1112 Calhoun Street, Newberry, you can reach him at 803-597-5099.