Four Pillars of Brain Health

September 25, 2014


Thank you for making our in-store back-to-school event a success! Certified Clinical Nutritionist Nikki Drummond led the discussion on how to naturally improve issues such as anxiety, ADD/ADHD and memory loss in our children. Although the focus for the evening was on children’s health, Nikki passed along some essential information for people of all ages. Even if you were not able to join us this week, Nikki shared four tips on how to improve your brain health and overall wellness.

So what are the four pillars of brain health?

REMOVE

Sometimes you just have to clean house. For brain health, it is important to remove toxins from the diet because toxins wreak havoc on neurotransmitter communication. Neurotransmitters are like emails sent out by the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. Just like when your internet connection slows, toxins create congestion at the receptor sites for neurotransmitters causing communication to breakdown. When this occurs, patients may become susceptible to a wide variety of conditions and diseases. Dietary toxins include processed foods full of preservatives and chemicals. Two of the biggest culprits? MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and sugar. MSG is a known neurotoxin that can cause headaches, attention issues, and hyperactivity in both adults and children. Consuming too much sugar can cause rapid changes in blood sugar levels triggering a “fight or flight” response in the body. Once activated, the “fight or flight” response creates a burden on the adrenal glands resulting in poor focus, fatigue, brain fog, test anxiety, poor athletic performance, and ultimately neurotransmitter depletion.

Did you know? MSG can be lurking in processed health foods and your favorite soy or whey protein powder. Check your labels for Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Textured Vegetable Protein and Yeast Extract.

RESTORE

Restore your brain chemistry. Due to chronic stress and poor diet, most Americans experience neurotransmitter imbalances at one time or another. However, neurochemistry is complex and having some baseline values to go on makes the healing process much faster. Consider doing a simple in-home urine test to measure neurotransmitter levels. Once these values are known you can use targeted amino acids to help restore balance to your weary brain.

Did you know? Eggs and legumes are natural sources of essential amino acids.

REST

No matter how many times we’ve heard it, it bears repeating: sleep is non-negotiable! Many times sleep difficulties both in children and adults are due to low Serotonin levels. Without adequate rest, it is near impossible to focus and stay on task because the parasympathetic nervous system (calming system) is not properly activated. Lack of deep R.E.M. sleep can also trigger “fight or flight” signals to the brain, further suppressing our body’s natural calming system. Belly breathing A great way to “train” your parasympathetic nervous system to achieve better brain balance is belly breathing.

Tip: How to belly breathe: Lay on your back with a book resting on your stomach. As you exhale, pull your belly in toward your spine, emptying your lungs as much as possible. If you imagine yawning as you inhale, it will help you to fill your lungs with oxygen completely. How to know if you are doing it right? The book on your stomach will rise and fall with each breath, and your chest will stay relatively still. (Jill Becker, “How to Breathe While Running“)

DIGEST

Digestion is essential for brain balance since 95% of neurotransmitters are synthesized in the gut. Research shows there is a much bigger connection between the gut and the brain than we thought. Lack of protein consumption and absorption can be a huge cause for neurotransmitter depletions. Making sure you consume 4-5 servings of healthy dietary proteins such as nuts/seeds, legumes, and lean animal proteins, along with taking a digestive enzyme may greatly improve your sense of focus and well-being.

Tip: What do digestive enzymes do? They help break the food you eat into smaller, more absorbable elements.

Interested in learning more? Email us or visit our store and ask us about the new Hill Country Apothecary Brain Wellness Program now available to customers.

About the speaker:
Nikki Drummond is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) specializing in the field of neuroscience. As the founder and CEO of NeuroFit Nutrition™, she is known for her expertise in the field of clinical nutrition and neurochemical physiology. Since 1998, Drummond has become known as a speaker, instructor and educational writer in the healthcare field. She has held various leadership roles teaching the public, patients, professionals and physicians how to utilize leading-edge nutritional techniques in the treatment and prevention of various conditions that originate at the cellular level.