Why do our brains seem to degenerate?

459300731 webBrain degeneration affects the old and young alike! It can also happen more rapidly in people who have had head trauma. “Neurodegeneration” is a broad term describing the progressive loss of nerve cells in our brain and peripheral nervous system. Neurodegeneration occurs in everyone, but at different rates for different people. Noticeable symptoms of neurodegeneration includes memory loss, a decreased sense of smell and taste, and various stages of dementia that can range from mild to serious. This can include Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Common examples of neurodegeneration are:

  • Speaking abilities deteriorate and the pace of speech is sluggish;
  • The person frequently struggles to remember people, places and events;
  • Low or no “affect” – the ability to show outward facial emotions and expression;
  • Presence of poor body posture: this indicates the body is unable to sustain proper muscle tone in our postural muscles. The result is a tendency to slouch and have a “stooped over posture.”
  • Our gait refers to how we walk and move, and can indicate brain degeneration and brain neuron loss:
    • A decreased gait, from a full stride to some form of a shuffle.
    • The loss of our normal opposing arm swing while walking, or a diminished arm swing.
    • A loss of balance, or feelings of “vertigo” is another indicator of a rapidly deteriorating brain.

Many people either have these warning signs or see it in people they know, but feel helpless to change what they think is just a natural occurrence (aging) or a condition that they have no way to control the problem or even or even to reverse it. There are non-drug options that can help this brain degeneration, which can help improve a person’s quality of life.

The chemistry that happens when the brain degenerates:

Much of our brain damage is the result of “free radicals” that lead to a lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain. Free radicals are stray electrons that damage our cells and tissues, and are a key contributor to “oxidative stress,” inflammation, and lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain. This can lead to a buildup of plaque in our brain, and the rapid deposit of “Tau Proteins.” In combination, these factors have been shown to be at the center of many neurodegenerative diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and memory loss.

Minimizing and reversing your brain’s neurodegeneration is possible
The saying, “use it or lose it” applies here. Our brain is the master control center for our nervous system, and if we don’t exercise it, then we start to lose it more rapidly. It’s important to participate in daily activities that help to stimulate the memory. Playing the card game “Concentration” we played as kids is a great way to have fun, and maintain healthy brain neurons. Crossword puzzles provide another great way to challenge a person’s recall of events, places, words and details, as is studying a new language or learning a new skill.

Physical exercise and exertion activates areas of our brain in other important ways. Our muscles are directly wired to specific areas of our brain and provide stimulation to these areas when we move. Exercise temporarily increases blood oxygen levels which gives our neurons an essential fuel needed to function, which is important for brain and memory health.  Whenever we experience or see a diminishing ability, we need to challenge this system by engaging in therapeutic activities. Diminishing abilities include poor speech quality, balance, or movement.

Nutrients to protect our brain
We want to look at brain essential nutrients that can protect our brain from free radicals, inflammation and oxidative stress, so that our brains can continue to be sharp as we age.

  • Co-Q10 is a co-enzyme that increases the efficiency of energy production, and serves as a potent brain and heart antioxidant.
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid regenerates other important brain antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E, and Glutathione, thus extending the life of other antioxidants while providing powerful antioxidant properties.
  • N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) dramatically increases the body’s production of glutathione, another very important brain antioxidant. It also helps detoxify our brain.
  • Acetyl-L_Carnitine, like Co-Q-10, enhances our nerve cell energy production. This benefits damaged brain neurons, which have low energy production. Studies show that this nutrient profoundly slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It enhances our nerve cell energy production by transporting fuel into the mitochondria (energy plants) of our cells.
  • Vitamin E has been shown to limit free radical damage in the brain and has been noted to outperform an Alzheimer’s drug in clinical trials, per the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Diets rich in Vitamin E, when supplemented with Vitamin C, have been shown to reduce the risk of Parkinsons by 61%.
  • Gingko Biloba improves brain metabolism, increases brain blood flow and provides additional antioxidant protection according to double blind placebo trials published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Gingko Biloba was also shown to stabilize Alzheimer’s progression, and was cited in contributing to actual improvement results in standardized psychological tests.
  • Vitamin D has been shown in studies to have many free radical scavenging abilities that help the brain.
  • Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining the “myelin sheath” around your neurons, which is the equivalent to the protective coatings on electrical wires. The myelin sheath not only helps to conduct electrical nerve signals throughout your body, but helps to prevent “mixed messages” when neurons cross. When neurons messages become “crossed” we can see problems such as neurological tremors.
  • Phosphatidyl Serine produces the important neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, which is responsible for healthy muscle contraction, organ function and most of all memory.
  • Flavonoids are found in citrus fruits and many types of berries. These nutrients function like antioxidants and help build the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) which keeps toxins out of our brain.

Other nutrients that are also essential to a healthy brain include Magnesium, Calcium, all of the B-Vitamins, Sodium, Potassium, EPA, DHA, and many amino acids. Many of these nutrients and more are already included in the highly bio-available daily multivitamin our patients take.

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