Dowsing the Brain on Fire with Sleep

Unlike the rest of our body, the brain is often forgotten simply because it has no pain receptors to grab your attention.  Instead it subtly protests in other ways such as brain fog, restlessness and lack of focus.  But like the rest of your body, the brain can become inflamed.  Mark Hyman refers to this as the brain being  “on fire” or inflamed and this problem touches nearly everyone as diseases e.g. Alzheimer’s and mood disorders are on the increase.

Inflammation is the body’s attempt at protecting itself where it aims removing harmful stimuli in order to begin the healing process.   So when you sprain your ankle, it is normal for the inflammation to begin in order to protect.   But chronic inflammation is another matter as it is ongoing and the original intent of the inflammation to  “protect” fails to eliminate whatever was causing the acute stage.  Basically the auto immune system then attacks healthy tissue mistaking it for harmful pathogens.   Hyman describes it as a  “smoldering fire of inflammation throughout the body” and the brain is not immune to it.

There are several causes to inflammation including diet, food allergies, digestive imbalances, exposure to toxins, low grade or hidden chronic infections, stress, sedentary lifestyle, nutritional deficiencies and sleep.  One factor can easily set off another but for now this article will focus upon sleep.

The importance of getting sufficient, good quality sleep has been well documented.  Around 7 hours per day is considered sufficient.  A recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience reported that after several days of depriving mice of adequate sleep, the mice lost 25 per cent of their brain cells.   Furthermore, Medical News Today cited research from the University of Rochester Medical Centre showing the brain has different functional states when asleep and awake.   Restorative sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of by products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.

The team also reported that through the use of imaging technology on mice, they discovered a system that actually drains waste from the brain.   This system, dubbed  “glymphatic system” acts like the body’s regular lymphatic system but is managed by the brain’s glial cells.   During sleep, the brain undergoes actual physical changes that allow this system to work faster.  The brain cells shrink by 60 per cent that increases the space between so toxins are flushed away more effectively.

Watch for future tips on creating the best sleep environment.   In the meantime,  “The best cure for insomnia is to get lots of sleep.”   W C Fields

 

 

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Memory Is All We Are

If you find you are experiencing memory problems such as remembering what you are saying when interrupted in a conversation, or misplacing your keys, wallet or glasses more frequently or you write things down more regularly so you don’t forget them, you may find the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine is depleted. Acetylcholine  is a neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in the chemistry of  your brain and also helps in the function of your nervous system.

The primary building block to this transmitter is choline, which is related to the family of B-complex vitamins.  As a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine supports cognitive functions such as memory and formation of thoughts. Adequate amounts of choline are important to keeping the cell membranes of the brain healthy. Your brain contains 100 billion brain cells with trillions of supportive cells to protect and defend them. Each connection meet at the cell membrane so if those membranes are not healthy, the speed of communication of communications slows down.  Cell membranes are made from many things and choline is one such ingredient. Dr. Mark Hyman says if the cell membranes are your brain’s ears the phosphatidylcholine  and  phosphatidylserine are the brain’s eardrums.

A good dietary source of choline is lean beef, pork, chicken and turkey and tilapia.  Dairy foods, such as skim milk, low fat cheeses,  sour cream and yogurt are also good choices.  Eggs and lecithin from soy are also high in choline as well as vegetables such as artichokes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.

You can also purchase choline as a supplement.  Huperzine A is a compound that seems to work by increasing the availability of acetylcholine.  According to Dr. Daniel Amen it has been shown to be effective in helping learning and memory in teenagers as well as improved cognitive impairment from several different types of dementia.  “Memory is all we are. Moments and feelings, captured in amber, strung on filaments of reason. Take a man’s memories and you take all of him. Chip away a memory at a time and you destroy him as surely as if you hammered nail after nail through his skull.” Mark Lawrence, King of Thorns.

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Putting the Brakes on your Mind Running Away

 

With the  pressures of life, many tend to push themselves to the point of burnout.

They do this with habits such as not getting enough sleep, eating too much processed foods, drinking too much coffee and then overextending themselves with work. On top of all of this, we are exposed to environmental toxins leaving us stressed, anxious and too wired.  Fortunately our bodies were designed to deal with this onslaught of “stuff” because our adrenal glands produce hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine when the body reads that it is in a “dangerous” situation.

In return, the amino acid GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) calms the brain down but when in short supply, it does make it more difficult for your body to relax.It helps to regulate the body’s internal rhythm and has an inhibitory effect. Artificial things that imitate GABA are alcohol, marijuana, and tranquilizers.  Unfortunately with time, the body gets accustomed to it and eventually requires more.

ImageThe amino acid GABA, if taken as a supplement can be a better option and is often used for relieving anxiety, improving mood, and treating ADHD. Other symptoms associated with low levels of GABA include the inability to kick back and relax, easily stressed and overwhelmed,  unusual sensitivity to loud noises lights or too much activity and feeling anxious when skipping meals.

Other things which can help balance this amino acid is Taurine which is found through protein rich foods.  It is naturally found in meats such as beef, lamb, fish, eggs, dairy products and brewer’s yeast. Theanine, found especially in green and oolong  also boost GABA as well as Specific B vitamins such as as B3, B6 and B12.

Foods high in glutamic acid also help.  here are some suggestions:  almonds, bananas, broccoli, brown rice, oats, lentils, spinach, shrimp, oranges,walnuts and rice bran.

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