We all have health concerns and these concerns vary greatly from person to person. What's more, during the course of lives our health concerns change. Each month a different health concern will be addressed on this page.
Nervous System: Basic Care for Your Brain and Nerves
Your nervous system is probably the most nutritionally sensitive system in the body. Long before you develop actual physical conditions from poor nutrition, you'll feel the mental and emotional effects of a lack of good nutrition. These include fuzzy thinking ("brain fog"), absent mindedness, mental confusion and nervousness. Later they develop into more serious problems such as chronic insomnia, anxiety, depression and memory loss.
Understanding how to nourish them properly. For starters, the brain is 70% water, so it is very sensitive to dehydration. So, if you want to think more clearly and protect your gray matter, start by drinking 1/2 ounce of pure water for every pound of body weight every day. (That's 75 oz, or a little more than a half-gallon for an average 150-pound person.)
Next, 50-60% of the "dry" weight of the brain is fat, with 35% of that fat being omega-3 fatty acids. So, if you want to keep your brain healthy you need to be a "fat head" by eating the right kinds of fats. The most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain is DHA. DHA is essential for proper brain function and is found primarily in fish oil, especially cold-water fish. DHA is available as a single supplement and is also found in various omega-3 products.
At the same time, avoid hydrogenated oils (shortening and margarine) and transfatty acids from processed and deep fried foods. These fats aren't good for your brain.
Besides fat, the brain also needs amino acids from protein. The neurotransmitters we mentioned earlier are built from amino acids. Meals containing adequate protein tend to increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine (which results in a more alert mind and a better mood).
Foods high in the B-vitamins are essential for lowering the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia. B-vitamins are involved in helping the formation of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin.
The Brain and Blood Sugar
The brain consumes more blood sugar (glucose) than any other organ and takes this sugar up directly from the bloodstream without the need for insulin. The amount of sugar in your blood directly controls the amount of sugar reaching your brain. Too much sugar and the brain is over stimulated, which results in agitation, irritability and nervousness. Too little sugar in the blood, a condition know as hypoglycemia, can cause mental confusion, irritability, shakiness, fatigue, cold nose and limbs and cravings for sugar. So blood sugar problems are linked to forgetfulness, anxiety, depression, mental confusion, age-related cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Although the brain needs sugar as an energy source, simple sugars actually contribute to 'brain fog' and mental decline. Consequently, select complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and whole grains over foods containing refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour and other processed grains. Be sure to include high quality protein and fats with meals as this stabilizes blood sugar levels and keeps the brain working better.
Don't Poison Your Mind
Toxins can seriously damage the brain, especially fat-soluble toxins (such as petrochemical solvents). Since the nervous system is composed primarily of fats, anything that will dissolve fats and oils such as stain removers, gasoline and other solvents can easily penetrate the skin and affect the nerves.