Boost Your Brain, Mend Your Mind
I have had WAY to many friends lately whose parents are exhibiting either full out Alzheimer’s or signs of significant cognitive decline.
There is a lot of wonderful and amazing and COMPLEX information out there about this subject. Rightfully so. It is a complex issue that needs a lot of research and understanding.
From my clinical perspective and experience, here is how I see it:
- Alzheimer’s, and any cognitive decline, is another chronic degenerative disease that is the result of inflammation, unmitigated stress, poor diet, and a sedentary life. It IS preventable and, at least in the very early stages, reversible.
- Bad eating habits are really bad for your brain. AD never just comes. Its the fruit of how we have lived. Our cells are made of what we have eaten.
- Poor exercise and movement habits are bad for your brain.
- Emotional constipation and long term stress is REALLY bad for your brain. Sadness, anger, rage, fear, anxiety, loneliness, shame, addiction, and trauma erode your brain health. Your emotional tone and vibration absolutely impacts your energy and body. You are energy first, physical matter second. Its not always what you are eating, but what is eating you. The emotional side of health is probably the biggest factor, in my opinion.
- The insane OVERLOAD of devices like iPhones are a public health nightmare waiting to happen. They increase stress and the Electro Magnetic Frequencies destroy the glial cells of your brain. Bad idea. The devices and pseudo-connectivity is an addiction that has to be looked at squarely. For our conversation, they have to be curtailed in the interest of brain health.
Which thus leads us to deduce the following:
- We can optimize brain function and reverse the aging process by moving well, feeling well, thinking well, eating well, loving well, resting well, and living really well.
- There are genetic precursors for Alzheimer’s. Yet, epigenetics tells us that genes express based on their environment. You put garbage into your body and mind and you will get garbage out. An unhealthy environment for a cell – bad diet, toxic emotions, no exercise, absolutely plays a role in which genes express.
- Eating like we were designed to eat can reverse disease, degeneration, and the aging process. We’ll BRIEFLY discuss below
- You can eat perfectly, and if your emotional life is an unconscious toxic waste dump you put yourself in a perpetual stress response unleashing many toxic chemicals that are acid to the brain. Emotional tension and stress can selectively decrease blood and oxygen anywhere in your body. Loneliness, fear, anger, rage, shame, isolation rapidly speed the aging process. Most importantly, we lose our child-like spirit of ENJOYING this beautiful life. I know diets nuts that are anything but well. The oft-found perfectionism in the diet folks is actually a factor in illness.
- Your body was designed to MOVE and to enjoy and feel alive MOVING. When we move, get strong, get long, get fit we are pumping our brain full of GREAT stuff that is critical to long term brain health.
- Get off devices and get into relationships, into the sunshine, and into life.
You are not your brain, yet your Life and Person expresses through your brain at this time/space level. When it does not work well, YOU don’t work well. Alzheimer’s, bluntly stated, totally sucks and adds a tremendous burden to people and families. Lets consciously work towards creating healthier and happier brains.
Some quick notes and resources:
Diet: Fascinatingly, Alzheimer’s is now being considered an expression of “Type 3 Diabetes”. What that means is that improper and inefficient sugar metabolism in the brain damages the brain over time. According to Amy Berge, MS, “The research is unambiguous: AD results from a failure of the brain to properly use glucose as a fuel. The connection between glucose handling, insulin signaling and AD is so strong that many study authors now refer to AD as a diabetes of brain.” Amy’s information is astounding and clearly points to the fact that the typical american diet, EVEN IF SOMEONE IS SKINNY, is TERRIBLE for the body and brain. The horrific overuse of high carbohydrate diets, refined grains, incredibly high sugar intakes, and toxic rancid fats is a MAJOR cause of AD and cognitive problems. When we don’t handle sugar well, which happens pretty much 100% of the time with high stress and low nutritional quality diets, we catalyze a slow dump of toxic acid onto our brains.
My clinical mind had the question: “What about those plaques in the brain with aluminum?” This blew my mind – there is an enzyme in the brain that clears out these plaques naturally. However, when there is too much sugar in the brain that is not properly metabolized (Diabetes in the brain), that enzyme gets all used up trying to clear the excess insulin. Too much sugar means too much insulin which means that that amazing house cleaning enzyme gets used up putting out fires. Thus, the “trash” doesn’t get taken out and our brain literally hardens. Makes you think twice about that cheesecake and wine, doesn’t it?
Cutting to the Food chase:
- Low and wise carbohydrate diets are superior when it comes to brain function. The research is very clear on this. Yes, I advocate for Paleo TYPE diets.
- Get glutens and bad grains OUT of your mouth
- Beer, as popular as it is, is sugar as is all alcohol.
- GOOD FATS are your friends – Butter, ghee, coconut oils are Wonderful. What is your brain made of? Fat. Feed it what it needs.
- Supplement with Omega 3s + Vitamin D
- Eat LOTS of greens and low glycemic fruits. Eat healthy proteins + meats.
- If you are a vegan, which is totally fine, work with a coach or get good resources on how to NOT go crazy with carbs. There is a LOT of evidence to suggest that plant based diets are associated with slower agin and better health, YET there is also ample evidence to suggest that mediterranean diets and Paleo diets also reverse the aging process. Don’t get stuck on the labels.
- Eat to live and to vibrate at a very high level. Get help when you are stuck.
- Blueberries, Acai, and the like boost blood flow to brain. MCT oil, L-Carnitine, CoQ-10, Green Tea, DMG, and a balanced food based multivitamin are great for the brain.
- HYDRATE – DRINK WATER PEOPLE! You are 70+% Water. DRINK HEALTHY WATER.
Cutting to the Exercise Chase:
- Workout smart. If you need, get a trainer that is AWESOME. My friend Kate Murphy is the best, too bad she is in Bozeman, MT. Work with someone that has deep training and understands exercise as a neurological tool. At the very least, get someone you like, trust, and resonates with you. I have been to some really BAD trainers.
- In Charlotte, Shane Cuppett is an amazing teacher and coach of Foundation Training, a phenomenal “yoga hack” and primal movement exercise system that will transform your spine, your whole body, how you move, and how you breathe. I think its PHENOMENAL for brain health, spine health, and emotional health. The best part of Foundation Training is its founder and developer, Eric Goodman. Not only is Eric a “Davinci” of human anatomy and function, this amazing work was birthed by his own need to overcome severe and chronic pain. Its probably one of the most effective methods at dealing with structural chronic pain out there.
- Lets take this up a notch. Roger Sperry got a Nobel Prize in 1982 for showing that the spine acts as the “windmill” generator creating electricity and energy that feeds the brain. In other words, when your spine moves right your brain is very happy. Foundation Training systematically fires the entire back chain of muscles of the spine – all the way from your feet to your head – in a way that floods your brain with positive energy. I have taken long time chiropractors, elite athletes, and high performance doctors through a simple “Founder” and their whole nervous system and countenance is different and postural changes that typically take months to achieve happen in moments. It did it by changing the brain/body connection. Thus, it creates nonlinear change that affects the entire person. Learn it and do it. Its not just for back pain, its one of the slickest holistic fitness tools out there. This is also the reason I love certain chiropractic approaches, especially Network Spinal Analysis.
- Exercise 5-6 days per week. You have to have functional strength enhancing work. If you just stare at a TV while lazily peddling that stationary bike, I am sorry you are missing the boat. You gotta push a new edge every time you train. Have fun. It should feel great. Alignment based yoga (Brooks Haislip, Tai Dorn and Sybil Nance ROCK because they GET movement) is awesome.
- Cross-fit type exercise can be wonderful – IF its genetically right with you. Certain people, like me with a tendency for too many interleukin 6’s don’t do well with it (sorry, don’t have time or space to get into it). Big picture, find personalized training and if you are liking it and feeling great, go with it. I know a lot of folks who go through the motions of Cross fit and the like and really mess themselves up. Its a very refined and subtle exercise, believe it or not, and is much more about coordination, mindfulness, and proper movement than brute strength. It requires great coaching, mindful presence, and a very focused mind (hence the high injury rate).
- Olympic weight lifting can be GREAT for some folks.
- Smart Aerobic training is great a few days per week. As a former Ironman Triathlete, I personally think that a lot of the obsessive endurance training that is en vogue is not only not great for you, I think it is often a neurotic avoidance strategy and an attempt to manage a lot of unhealed tension and stress. If you love it and its your thing, just take great care of yourself an look at any patterns of exercise addiction and OCD tendencies (these run rampant in endurance and multi-sport communities). You HAVE to mitigate the negative effects on stress hormones created excessive training or it will come back to bite you.
- HIIT training is phenomenal – look it up. I schedule 2-3 sessions of this weekly. High Intensity Interval Training.
- Sports like tennis and table tennis and anything that really challenges you in a complex way with complex movements and coordination is great for your brain. Golf? I have no idea. I am bored after 1 hole. If you love it, I hear its great for you!
- SWEAT every day if you can.
- Get out there, move, play, breathe, push yourself, gently be brave and explore your edge. It will boost your brain, mend your mind.
- Meditate – its like a strength gym for your brain.
- Get off your devices and get help if you are a junkie.
- Deal with emotions with mindfulness, therapy, or neuro-emotional techniques (NET) with a LICENSED practitioner with bonafide training.
- Keep your spine fluid, open, flexible, and receptive (tonal based chiropractic like Network and Somato Respiratory Integration).
- Consciously breathe every day (I personally love and practice the Art of Living Sudarshan Kriya)
- If you are not happy and fulfilled – STOP! Pay Attention. Look at your life and ask for help. You are SO worth it, and you are a beautiful rose bush that may just need some pruning. Its good for the heart, great for your relationships, and great for your health.
- Have good friends and support networks. Churches, Temples, Synagogues, Ashrams, 12 step groups, support groups, retreats, spiritual guides, great friends, fun, play, and living fully ARE REALLY GOOD MEDICINE. Transform the meaning of your suffering and your social networks and your life will change, in an instant. Life is working for you. We all need help to remember that.
- Make amends, forgive, heal shame, transform addictions of all types, and love yourself.
Together, we can turn Alzheimer’s around. Eat well. Move well. Think Well. Breathe Well. Love Well. Forgive Well. Sleep Well. You WILL be well. Your body is an amazing storehouse of infinite Innate Intelligence.
Dr. Matt Lyon
Charlotte NC Soul Muse and Wellness Wizard