For many years now, I have been fascinated with the brain. How does it work? How do things in our environment change the way our brain works? What can I do to help my brain function at optimal levels?
For starters, there are so many things that are toxic to our brain. From food allergies to brain seizures, from toxic environments to nutritional deficiencies, from GMO foods to a damaged gut, there are so many possibilities that at times, it can just seem overwhelming!
REMOVE THE TOXINS
To get started, it is critical to remove as many toxins as we can! Start with body care products, and look at things that go into the air like candles and air fresheners. Children that have a harder time detoxing cannot process those toxins the same way as you may be able to, so these toxins will hang out in the body for much longer! Next, look at your food sources and find where you can make some choices to get rid of potential allergens and toxins.
UC – Davis researchers found that damage to the mitochondria is biologically tied to the brain. The mitochondria is the energy factory of a cell. Damage to the mitochondria results in the cell not having enough energy to perform the tasks is was made for. It can also result in an increase of stress on the cells which leads to oxidation. Oxidation is the same process that causes cars to rust. When there is oxidative stress, things change around in the body, and can even damage the myelin sheath. The damage the researchers found was acquired while in utero or shortly after birth.
The bottom line is that if cells cannot produce energy and there is significant oxidative stress, then the neurons do not fire. Subsequently, connections are not completed, and essentially the lights never turn on. As you can see brain function and neurodevelopment requires a lot of energy. Adults that have low brain energy levels are also at risk of other cognitive brain conditions.
Damage to the mitochondria sets up the body for immune dysfunction and inability to detox.
In the brain and the spinal cord, our nerve fibers are wrapped in an insulating outer layer – a protective sheath called myelin – required to speed up transmission of electrical signals. Thanks to these fatty sheaths, impulses can jump from one periodic break in the myelin sheaths, called nodes, to the next node, thus enabling messages to be passed on at high speeds.
There is still much research that needs to be done on how this effects brain health. However, we do know that when the myelin is damaged, the axons of the nerves are left naked. Naked axons cannot conduct electrical impulses efficiently.
When nerve fibers have been stripped, they may begin to “short circuit” or fail to properly transmit signals within the nervous system. Thus, when myelin sheaths are damaged, impulses are slower than they should be.
Messages then have to be passed on along the entire length of the nerve fibers which is much slower than if impulses could still jump from node to node.
Transmission is slowed or even blocked. Research is finding that boys naturally have thinner myelin sheaths.
When we first took my son in to be evaluated, we were told that his left and right brains didn’t communicate as quickly as they should, so it took him longer to retrieve information. We were also told then that this was a more common problem among boys, though no one had given us the information about the myelin sheath at that time.
“Nerves are incased in a protective sheath called Myelin. Myelin can be damaged by metals and toxins. Imagine toxins being worms that eat holes in leaves. When there is a hole in the Myelin sheath, it leaves the nerve exposed. Each hole in the nerve causes the nerve to send wrong messages to body parts.”
The vagus nerve is one of 12 cranial nerves. This nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system which means it’s about slowing things down. It is in direct contrast to “fight or flight”. When the parasympathetic system is “in control” we are in fact “in control”. We are calmer, able to think clearer, and experience less fear. Science has also discovered that the Vagus nerve is stimulated when we feel empathy. When we connect with someone else’s emotions and feel for them, even if it’s through watching them on television or seeing a picture, that connection stimulates the Vagus nerve. Science confirms that the Vagus nerve is more attached to our right side (emotional part of the brain) than the left side (thoughts, logical part). So, when the Vagus nerve is damaged, it’s our emotional side that suffers.
The basic foundation for the myelin sheath, which if damaged, would leave the Vagus nerve open and exposed, are B spectrum vitamins, magnesium, and the hormone pregnenalone. It’s important to support the Vagus nerve to support a healthy brain!
Pregnenolone is known to modulate at least two key nerve receptors systems in the brain, one of which is the receptors involved in learning, memory and alertness.
So much more to say, but I’ll save that for my next post!