Tag Archives: Brain Health

3 Things That Happen To Your Brain With Leaky Gut

Gut health is essential for overall health. That connection is fairly easy to make. But what about your brain? Can the health of your gut really affect your brain? The answer is a resounding yes! Here are three things that happen to your brain when you have a leaky gut.

  1. Depression – the bacteria that naturally exist in our GI tract are mostly beneficial. However, if metabolic byproducts and cell constituents are able to escape the gut they cause a potent inflammatory response. This happens through a “leaky gut.” The resulting response alters levels of inflammatory hormones called cytokines. These cytokines have the ability to communicate with the brain and eventually change neurotransmitter levels. This change in neurotransmission actually begins to rewire the brain leading the changes in how we think and feel. Most often, people begin to feel depressed. 3.02-brain-on-fire
  2. An Inflamed Brain – through the mechanisms just mentioned, not only do your neurotransmitters and thoughts/feelings change, your brain becomes inflamed. This signals the immune cells within the brain, called glial cells, to become very active. This may sound like a good thing, but it’s not. As a result of being activated glial cellsgenerate more inflammation and create oxidative stress. This means the glial cells begin breaking down the brain. This may increase your risk of brain fog, fatigue, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, and possibly even neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Blood Brain Barrier Breakdown – there is a barrier than exists that separates what is circulating in our blood from our brain. Only things that are beneficial for the brain are supposed to have access to it. The blood brain barrier is an exceptionally important structure. With increased inflammation from a leaky gut and glial activation, the blood brain barrier breaks down. Now toxic byproducts, inflammatory hormones, and other noxious chemicals have free access to the brain. This is a disastrous consequence that interferes with brain function leading to a multitude of symptoms which include depression, brain fog, anxiety, and more. Leaky gut leads to a leaky blood brain barrier!

Gastrointestinal health is essential for brain health. Knowing how to fix the gut can lead to dramatic improvements in how you feel cognitively and emotionally.

For much more information and strategies to improve your gut and brain health join me for a FREE webinar on Tuesday, November 10th at 7:30PM called “The Gut-Brain Connection – Mood, Food, and More!” We’ll explore the amazing connection between gut health and brain health and give you tips and tricks to make both healthy.

Dr. Vreeland is a nationally recognized expert and author in functional medicine and will present information that will be life changing! You don’t want to miss this event!

Click here to register: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EC51D98085463A

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Omega-3: Intervention for childhood behavioral problems? — ScienceDaily

At the forefront of a field known as “neurocriminology,” Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania has long studied the interplay between biology and environment when it comes to antisocial and criminal behavior. With strong physiological evidence that disruption to the emotion-regulating parts of the brain can manifest in violent outbursts, impulsive decision-making and other behavioral traits associated with crime, much of Raine’s research involves looking at biological interventions that can potentially ward off these behavioral outcomes.

A new study by Raine now suggests that omega-3, a fatty acid commonly found in fish oil, may have long-term neurodevelopmental effects that ultimately reduce antisocial and aggressive behavior problems in children.

He is a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with appointments in the School of Arts & Sciences and the Perelman School of Medicine.

Along with Raine, the study featured Jill Portnoy a graduate student in the Department of Criminology, and Jianghong Liu, an associate professor in the Penn School of Nursing. They collaborated with Tashneem Mahoomed of Mauritius’ Joint Child Health Project and Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

It was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

When Raine was a graduate student, he, his advisor and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study of children in the small island nation of Mauritius. The researchers tracked the development of children who had participated in an enrichment program as 3-year-olds and also the development of children who had not participated. This enrichment program had additional cognitive stimulation, physical exercise and nutritional enrichment. At 11 years, the participants showed a marked improvement in brain function as measured by EEG, as compared to the non participants. At 23, they showed a 34 percent reduction in criminal behavior.

Raine and his colleagues were interested in teasing apart the mechanisms behind this improvement. Other studies suggested the nutritional component was worth a closer look.

“We saw children who had poor nutritional status at age 3 were more antisocial and aggressive at 8, 11 and 17,” Raine said. “That made us look back at the intervention and see what stood out about the nutritional component. Part of the enrichment was that the children receiving an extra two and a half portions of fish a week.”

Other research at the time was beginning to show that omega-3 is critical to brain development and function.

“Omega-3 regulates neurotransmitters, enhances the life of a neuron and increases dendritic branching, but our bodies do not produce it. We can only get it from the environment,” Raine said.

Research on the neuroanatomy of violent criminals suggested this might be a place to intervene. Other brain-imaging researchers have shown that omega-3 supplementation increases the function of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region Raine found to have higher rates of damage or dysfunction in criminal offenders.

Raine’s new study featured a randomized controlled trial where children would receive regular omega-3 supplements in the form of a juice drink. One hundred children, aged 8 to 16, would each receive a drink containing a gram of omega-3 once a day for six months, matched with 100 children who received the same drink without the supplement. The children and parents in both groups took a series of personality assessments and questionnaires at the start.

After six months, the researchers administered a simple blood test to see if the children in the experimental group had higher levels of omega-3 than those in the controls. They also had both parents and children take the personality assessments. Six months after that, the researchers had parents and children take the assessment again to see if there were any lasting effects from the supplements.

The assessments had parents rate their children on “externalizing” aggressive and antisocial behavior, such as getting into fights or lying, as well as “internalizing” behavior, such as depression, anxiety and withdrawal. Children were also asked to rate themselves on these traits.

While the children’s self-reports remained flat for both groups, the average rate of antisocial and aggressive behavior as described by the parents dropped in both groups by the six-month point. Critically, however, those rates returned to the baseline for the control group but remained lowered in the experimental group, at the 12-month point.

“Compared to the baseline at zero months,” Raine said, “both groups show improvement in both the externalizing and internalizing behavior problems after six months. That’s the placebo effect.

“But what was particularly interesting was what was happening at 12 months. The control group returned to the baseline while the omega-3 group continued to go down. In the end, we saw a 42 percent reduction in scores on externalizing behavior and 62 percent reduction in internalizing behavior.”

At both the six- and 12-month check-ins, parents also answered questionnaires about their own behavioral traits. Surprisingly, parents also showed an improvement in their antisocial and aggressive behavior. This could be explained by the parents taking some of their child’s supplement, or simply because of a positive response to their child’s own behavioral improvement.

The researchers caution that this is still preliminary work in uncovering the role nutrition plays in the link between brain development and antisocial behavior. The changes seen in the one-year period of the experiment may not last, and the results may not be generalizable outside the unique context of Mauritius.

Beyond these caveats, however, there is reason to further examine omega-3’s role as a potential early intervention for antisocial behavior.

“As a protective factor for reducing behavior problems in children,” Liu said, “nutrition is a promising option; it is relatively inexpensive and can be easy to manage.”

Follow-up studies will include longer-term surveillance of children’s behavioral traits and will investigate why their self-reports did not match the parental reports.

via Omega-3: Intervention for childhood behavioral problems? — ScienceDaily.

Dr. Court’s Comments:

Fortunately, science is finally studying and understanding that nutrition is a major factor in brain development. This development appears to have a critical window and if this window is missed, it increases the risk of adverse outcomes. As with many other aspects of our health, it is the combination of our unique genetics with our environment. It’s important to provide the best environment possible to give a child the best chance at a healthy life. Modern American diets are notoriously low in omega-3s. According to recent a recent study, the average American consumes between 100-149mg/day of omega-3s from seafood. This is lower than the world average of 163mg/day. All this despite having relatively easy access to foods that contain omega-3s. Don’t like seafood? Consider increasing your consumption of grass-fed products which tend to be high in omega-3s. Also consider taking a fish oil supplement.

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Eight nutrients to protect the brain

Brain health is the second most important component in maintaining a healthy lifestyle according to a 2014 AARP study. As people age they can experience a range of cognitive issues from decreased critical thinking to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In the March issue of Food Technology published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), contributing editor Linda Milo Ohr writes about eight nutrients that may help keep your brain in good shape.

1. Cocoa Flavanols: Cocoa flavanols have been linked to improved circulation and heart health, and preliminary research shows a possible connection to memory improvement as well. A study showed cocoa flavanols may improve the function of a specific part of the brain called the dentate gyrus, which is associated with age-related memory (Brickman, 2014).

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have long been shown to contribute to good heart health are now playing a role in cognitive health as well. A study on mice found that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation appeared to result in better object recognition memory, spatial and localizatory memory (memories that can be consciously recalled such as facts and knowledge), and adverse response retention (Cutuli, 2014). Foods rich in omega-3s include salmon, flaxseed oil, and chia seeds.

3. Phosphatidylserine and Phosphatidic Acid: Two pilot studies showed that a combination of phosphatidylserine and phosphatidic acid can help benefit memory, mood, and cognitive function in the elderly (Lonza, 2014).

4. Walnuts: A diet supplemented with walnuts may have a beneficial effect in reducing the risk, delaying the onset, or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice (Muthaiyah, 2014).

5. Citicoline: Citicoline is a natural substance found in the body’s cells and helps in the development of brain tissue, which helps regulate memory and cognitive function, enhances communication between neurons, and protects neural structures from free radical damage. Clinical trials have shown citicoline supplements may help maintain normal cognitive function with aging and protect the brain from free radical damage. (Kyowa Hakko USA).

6. Choline: Choline, which is associated with liver health and women’s health, also helps with the communication systems for cells within the brain and the rest of the body. Choline may also support the brain during aging and help prevent changes in brain chemistry that result in cognitive decline and failure. A major source of choline in the diet are eggs.

7. Magnesium: Magnesium supplements are often recommended for those who experienced serious concussions. Magnesium-rich foods include avocado, soy beans, bananas and dark chocolate.

8. Blueberries: Blueberries are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity because they boast a high concentration of anthocyanins, a flavonoid that enhances the health-promoting quality of foods. Moderate blueberry consumption could offer neurocognitive benefits such as increased neural signaling in the brain centers.

via Eight nutrients to protect the aging brain — ScienceDaily.

Reference: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). “Eight nutrients to protect the aging brain.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150415203340.htm>.

Dr. Court’s Comments:

This is a great list. I’d encourage people to consider adding some, if not all, of these to their diet. However, these alone will not be 100% protective. To get much closer to that elusive 100% mark, exercise must be included. The benefits of exercise on the brain are numerous. Exercise is inherently anti-inflammatory. It improves fuel delivery as well as waste removal in the brain. It increases neural feedback which preserves synaptic connections. Remember this fact; 90% of the information coming into the brain on a daily basis is from proprioception. That is, 90% of the information is from our muscles and our joints. A sedentary lifestyle reduces this flow of information, reducing the survivability of neurons in the central nervous system. Exercise also keeps the heart healthy, and a healthy heart means a healthy brain.

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5 Things You Aren’t Taking For Your Migraines (But Should Be)

Before you read any further, consider signing up for Dr. Vreeland’s FREE webinar scheduled for March 24th, 2015 at 7:30PM. It’s called ‘Stop Your Migraines Naturally!’ Learn all the keys to reducing your migraines naturally and effectively.

Register here: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EB55DC88874639

Migraine IIMigraine headaches can be debilitating. People who get them know this. Many of those who suffer also know treatment to prevent migraines can be ineffective. According to the statistics, more than 1 in 5 adults over the age of 18 will report having migraines (1). With that many people experiencing migraine headaches, it’s shocking to know that less than half of those with migraines are being treated effectively (2). Clearly, an alternative approach is necessary.

The symptoms of migraines can be completely life altering and include (3):

  • žIntense pulsing or throbbing pain in one area of the head.
  • žHypersensitivity to light, sound, and smell.
  • žNausea
  • žA variety of autonomic, cognitive, emotional, and motor disturbances including sweating or cold hands, paresthesia, temporary paralysis (hemiparesis), dizziness, vomiting, aphasia, or confusion.

Headaches may last as long as 3 or more days, and many sufferers experience chronic migraines in which one migraine is followed by another, then another. This leads to an almost unending cycle of pain.

However, there is hope. And it’s not in the form of toxic medications that may you feel sleepy, foggy, dull, or not like yourself. They are natural and they work. Here are the 5 things you should be taking to reduce your migraines.

1. Butterbur

Butterbur (Petastis hybridus) is a perennial shrub that has lilac-pink flowers and can grow up to three feet high. It is found throughout Europe, as well as in parts of Asia and North AmericaButterbur has been used for hundreds of years to treat aches and pains, including headache. Butterbur appears to act by influencing the inflammation associated with migraine. In another study group daily consumption of Petasites extract at a dose of 75mg, twice per day was demonstrated to decrease the frequency of migraine attacks by 48%, compared to the placebo group (p = 0.00102) (4). In a separate study migraine frequency improved in greater than or equal to 50% of the Butterbur group, while improvement in the placebo group was only 15% (5).

It is very important to note Butterbur from differing manufacturers varies in the quantity of the targeted active phytochemical group called petasins. A high quality Butterbur will possess distinguishable quantities of the six different petasins, including 3-desoxy-neopetasol, isoperasin, neo-petasin, petasin, neo-S-petasin and S-petasin.

2. Feverfew:

(Tanacetum parthenium) Feverfew is a daisy-like perennial, herbaceous herb. The name feverfew is derived from the Latin word febrifugia, meaning “fever reducer,” and was traditionally used as an antipyretic. Its use is long and storied with the 17th Century English herbalist Culpeper writing of the effectiveness of this herb for headache and uterine disorders (6). Feverfew, in doses of 50-100mg daily, has been shown to be effective for migraine prevention, reduction of nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound (7-9).

3. Riboflavin:

Referred to as vitamin B2, or vitamin G, is a water-soluble B-vitamin. It is heavily involved in the energy production pathways in the brain. This is, perhaps, the mechanism by which taking high dose riboflavin works to reduce migraine headaches. By increasing the brain’s efficiency with respect to energy, it is better able to reduce or prevent neurons (cells in the brain) from becoming over excited. Migraines are thought to be caused by a hyper-excitable brain. Reducing this hyper-excitability is key for some in reducing migraine frequency and severity. Prophylactic treatment with riboflavin (400mg/day) was demonstrated to both reduce migraine attack frequency and to attenuate the use of abortive anti-migraine therapy (10).

4. CoQ10:

Similar to the above mechanisms with respect to energy management in the brain, taking CoQ10 may assist in managing brain hyper-excitabilty. As a component of the electron transport chain, CoQ10 participates in aerobic cellular respiration, generating energy as ATP, and thus functions as a necessary component in cellular energy production. Ninety-five percent of the body’s energy is produced in this manner. In addition to CoQ10’s assistance in cellular energy production, it also functions as an antioxidant. CoQ10 has been proposed as a prophylactic for migraines, especially in children and women of childbearing age (11). In an open label investigation (non-blinded) one study demonstrated that CoQ10 at a dose of 150mg/day was effective as a migraine preventive (12).

5. Polyphenolic-like Compounds:

Say what? Exactly. All you need to know here is these compounds are antioxidants that prevent damage to many tissues in your body. We get them from many places including fruits, vegetables, spices, and others. Migraines as well as headache duration has been correlated to oxidative/antioxidative parameters, thus antioxidants are thought to be beneficial in migraines. Accordingly, “the hypothesis of oxidative stress in migraine is supported by various studies.”(13-16). Nutritional compounds, specifically antioxidant compounds like polyphenolic-like compounds, may assist in mitigating the effects that this stress may play in migraine pathology.

So, now what? Where do you get these wonderfully natural compounds to prevent your headaches? Dr. Vreeland has designed a comprehensive migraine support formula called MygranX. While the above ingredients may all be widely available, no one has combined them into one effective product until now. In conjunction with Biotics Research Corporation, Dr. Vreeland has designed and tested MygranX. It is exceptionally effective. Biotics Research has found the most potent and effective raw ingredients possible when making MygranX. Some patients report up to a 90% reduction in their migraines! Almost all patients who take MygranX have achieved some form of relief. It is very easy to take. Just 1 capsule in the morning and evening is effective for most.

MygranX

MygranX

MygranX is available only through healthcare professionals. You will need to contact your functional medicine specialist to gain access to MygranX. You may also contact Dr. Vreeland at the Vreeland Clinic.

References:

  1. Headache. 2013 Mar;53(3):427-36
  2. N Engl J Med 2002, 346:257-270.
  3. Pain. 2013 Jul 25. pii: S0304-3959(13)00389-8
  4. Neurology. December 28, 2004 63(12): 2240-2244.
  5. Eur Neurol. 2004 51:89–97.
  6. http://loadbalanced.naturalstandard.com/index-abstract.asp?create-abstract=feverfew.asp&title=Feverfew.
  7. Cephalalgia 2002;22:523-32.
  8. Cephalalgia 2005;25:1031-41.
  9. Neurology. 2012 Apr 24;78(17):1346-53.
  10. European Journal of Neurology. 2004 11:475–477.
  11. Neurology. 2005 64:713–715.
  12. Cephalalgia. 2002 Mar;22(2):137-41.
  13. Cephalalgia. 2004 24:37-43.
  14. Cephalalgia. 1997 17:580-584.
  15. Cephalalgia. 1994 14:215-218.
  16. Cephalalgia. 2003 23:39-42.

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Brain Health 101

Keeping your brain healthy is critical to our overall health. Check out the infographic on 7 ways to keep your brain happy and healthy!!!

A healthy brain is a happy brain!

A healthy brain is a happy brain!

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Fish Oil Protects the Aging Brain!

More great information on fish oil! In addition to recent reports that fish oil is a valuable and effective tool in the management of ADHD, heart arrhythmias, anxiety and inflammation, a new study found that omega-3s protect against an aging brain.  Check out the video below.

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Alzheimer’s Disease video blog

Below is another video blog.  This time we’re talking about Alzheimer’s disease and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing this devastating condition.  Enjoy!

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