The 3 Best Nutrients for Brain Health

The 5 Best Nutrients for Brain Health
Nutrients with evidence of improved brain performance and disease resistance.

We talk a lot about brain health here on the blog, specifically when it comes to the effects that trauma, atlas displacement, and circulation play in the development of neurological disease.

However, we can’t ignore the role that nutrition plays in maintaining a high performing and disease resistent brain.

So without further adieu, here’s my short list on nutrients essential for a healthy brain along with their sources in scientific journals.

Om1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – By now everyone knows about Omega 3’s, but primarily for their ability to prevent cardiovascular disease. What most people don’t know is how important they can be for the health of the brain.

EPA and DHA are the primary fats you want. There’s been some promising studies showing that they may be able to prevent chemical damage from concussion, improve certain types of depression, and memory.

The best source is always from food, so fatty fish like salmon is an ideal source. However, eating fish daily is impractical and undesirable for almost everyone so supplementation with a high quality Omega 3 fish oil can help make up the difference. Make sure your brand removes all heavy metals and has vitamin E to keep the oil from spoiling.

 

curcumin2. Curcumin – It’s one of the hottest cure-alls in the natural health community. Research using animal models have shown that the extract from tumeric can alter the biochemical processes that underlie tumor formation, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain, diabetes, and even delayed onset muscle soreness.

The theory is that the chemicals in curcumin are able to capture inflammatory molecules in the body called free radicals, and reduce the inflammatory burden on the body.

The problem is that most of these studies are done on rats, and there’s really not much clinical studies done on humans. One major factor is that curcumin gets digested pretty readily in the stomach by the harsh gastric juices leaving little to be absorbed into the blood stream. We also don’t know how to maximize curcumin’s delivery to make it useful for humans.

In my experience, many people show some benefit from getting curcumin supplements from a place like Whole Foods, but we have no idea if it’s a placebo effect or not. If you have chronic pain or are concerned about those conditions, supplementation is a pretty low risk and low cost endeavor with potentially high reward. Adding more tumeric in the form of curries can also boost your curcumin intake.

 

probiotic3. Healthy Gut Bacteria – The science of the body’s natural bacteria is one of the hottest fields in health sciences. While you are probably well aware of probiotics thanks to yogurt commercials, Nutrition Stores, and Kambucha drinks, most people only associate bacteria with the human gut.

One of the most exciting things about the field is the way that gut bacteria affects every other system in the body. Studies are linking gut bacteria to your body weight, Parkinson’s Disease, and blood sugar regulation. It’s clear to see that your gut bacteria affect more than your occasional stomach ache.

One of the most important ideas being studied is the effect that gut bacteria have on the brain and nervous system. Studies have shown that your child’s mood can be associated with the quality of their bacteria. Because of this excitement, scientists are working hard trying to find the association between gut bacteria and autism, depression, and movement disorders.

However, for all of the promise of studying our microbiome, we don’t know the best way to influence these organisms. We still need to know things like:

  • What organisms work best for what person
  • Are certain conditions related to certain bacteria?
  • What’s the best way to re-populate your gut bacteria

Right now, the most viable ways to affect your own gut is through supplements like probiotics, which can be overwhelming when you’re shopping for your own. Another theory is to consume substances that are prebiotics, which is basically food that your gut bacteria want to eat and repopulate.

Did you like this article? Feel free to share it with the people you care about and see if a Complimentary Consultation is the next step to regain their health.

Dr. Chung is a practicing Structural Chiropractor in the West Palm Beach area. He has been published in peer reviewed scientific journals and is a sought after speaker in health and wellness. Follow his blog at http://chiropractorwellington.com/category/keystone-chiropractic-blog/ or find him on twitter at @drjonathanchung

 

Christmas is Not a Diet Killer and January 1st is Not a Magic Diet Fixer

Christmas is Not a Diet Killer and January 1st is Not a Magic Diet Fixer

It’s the season for sweet treats, heavy foods, and overeating. Obviously my patients want me to fatten me up for something special because this is a pretty close representation of what my reception area looks like:

Cookies and sweet treats infiltrating the reception area.

 

It’s that time of year where even the guys with the most strict eating habits break down and have a cookie or 3. I even helped myself to a nice cheat meal last week. I was out with my fiancé the Royal Palm Beach Commons Park for one of their monthly Food Truck Invasions.

I had helped myself to a large portion of barbecue brisket (fat and all) and was feeling pretty satisfied. My fiance and her friend decided to split a nice desert from the French Crepe foodtruck. A ridiculous Nutella and marshmellow concoction that looked and smelled like type II diabetes.

The funny thing about eating well most of the time, is that you will feel like garbage when you load your body up on sugar. Sure enough, she started feeling pretty crummy within about 10 minutes. That’s when she said this little gem:

“I can’t wait until New Year’s so I can start eating better again”

Of course, being the loving, caring, and sometimes sarcastic significant other I am, I challenged her and replied:

“Is there something magical about the New Year? Why wait till then?”

Probably not the best approach I’ve ever had, but it gave me something great to write about this week.

 

Go Nuts on Christmas, It’s Just One Day

 

Eat what you want on Christmas. One day isn't going to kill you. Worry about all the days around it.

Eat what you want on Christmas. One day isn’t going to kill you. Worry about all the days around it.

People are often worried about their diet getting derailed by the holidays. There have been plenty of bloggers who have addressed the issue about creating healthy and paleo-friendly meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Now if you are someone with a condition that is dependent on your diet (celiac, diabetic, autoimmunity), then of course you need to find alternatives. However, if you are otherwise healthy and just dieting for weight or health purposes, then I say eat to your heart’s content. Here’s the thing about Christmas and Thanksgiving that no one ever talks about.

It’s just ONE day.

Changing your diet for one day will not kill your eating habits if you don’t allow it. In fact, I find that it reinforces your good eating habits when you do it right. Why? Because when you feel like crap after gorging on cookies, soda, alcohol, and sweets for one day, you are probably going to feel pretty crummy mid way through, and certainly through most of the next day.

When you do things right, your body lets you know when you’re doing things wrong. The problem is that this plan doesn’t work if you choose to let the entire holiday season de-rail your plans.

One day may not throw you off your goals, but that 35 day window between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day can sabotage you physically and psychologically

Thanksgiving puts people into the holiday mentality for eating. While Thanksgiving is partly responsible, it’s the days that happen afterwards that spiral out of control. It’s the leftover pecan pie. It’s the work holiday party for your office, and then the work holiday party for your spouse. When people start making poor eating choices repeatedly, it becomes psychologically deflating to maintain healthy habits. It’s you just say:

Welp, I’ve eaten like crap the past few days, I guess one more isn’t going to hurt

“I’ll Get Back on Track on the New Year”

What is so magical about January that says you need to wait till then to begin doing things right again?

Nothing. There’s nothing special about January 2nd. The planets aren’t aligned to make you weightless. The moon isn’t going to change your hormone output.  It’s just another lap around the sun

Sometimes we have to change the way we think about our habits and routines to create meaningful change in our

Some fast humor. Get it?

Some fast humor. Get it?

health. That includes changing the idea that New Year’s is when you are supposed to get healthy. Here are some tips:

  • Feast on Christmas, fast the day after– Maybe not a true fast, but think about reducing your calorie intake immediately after Christmas. Calorie restriction and fasting have been shown to have rapid change on endocrine function and metabolism. If you’re feeling up to it, there is promising research that support 15-24 hour fasting and the effect that it has on growth hormone, alzheimer’s disease,  longevity, cancer prevention and immunity.

 

 

  • Say No to Left Overs – Christmas meals are usually designed to have lots of left overs. Everyone leaves with doggy bags of pecan pie and pot roasts. It can be a very liberating feeling to say no to these leftovers. When it’s not in your fridge, you have nearly  a 100% chance of not eating it the next dayYes, there are starving children around the world that would love to eat your left over pumpkin pie. You putting it through your digestive system does nothing for them, but it sabotages your metabolic health. Pass on the left overs, donate some money to Feeding America, and sleep better at night.

 

  • Do a Challenge with Friends – Don’t wait till New Year’s to start a challenge. Get some friends, family, or co-workers to do a healthy eating challenge. There’s no shortage of effective programs, so find one that fits right with you. Most of the time, the program isn’t what gets you losing weight, it’s the dedication to a prescribed eating plan that delivers the results.If you’re self-motivated, fantastic, do it on your own, but there’s really nothing else like having a team go into the trenches with you and holding you accountable.

In Conclusion

Don’t fret about feasting on Christmas. Take some time and really enjoy food on this one day. But don’t let that one day set you back from weeks or months of progress. There’s no such thing as a magic day for eating, but there’s a ton of magic in showing an indominable will.

 

 

Gluten-Free: Should you or shouldn’t you?

Gluten-Free: Should you or shouldn’t you?

The Gluten-Free aisle is the fastest growing part of the grocery store. What’s going on here?

 

gluten_free_aisle-resized-600They fill up whole sections of your local Publix or Whole Foods. New menu sections are designed for them at PF Changs and Cheesecake Factory. In the past 5 years, the words “Gluten-free” have become a hot topic of conversation in the health community. But what does it really mean to be Gluten-free? Is it healthy? Is it something you should be doing? Let’s take a closer look.

How did Gluten-free come about?

Gluten-free diets first emerged as a treatment for Celiac Disease. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder that affects an estimated 1/1750 people with clinical symptoms, but as many as 1/105 people have positive blood tests. It’s a disease where the body creates antibodies attack the inner lining of the digestive tract. The symptoms can range from moderate to severe abdominal pain with diarrhea, fatigue, malabsorbtion, or no symptoms at all. It was determined the immune system was reacting to proteins found in wheat and other grains leading to inflammation in the gut. The inflammation in the gut lead to damage in the intestinal lining causing pain and an inability to absorb various nutrients from food. When wheat and offending grains were eliminated from the diet of these individuals, the symptoms ceased, and the intestines healed within a matter of weeks. Thus, a gluten-free diet was born.

If it happens in less than 1% of people, why is it so popular now?

While many people don’t have Celiac disease, many people are finding that they may have a sensitivity to gluten. While it’s not highly recognized in traditional medicine, the fields of functional medicine and natural health fields have been studying the physiological effects of gluten for several years. While it may not show up as a digestive problem, people have found problems such as headaches, allergies, and thyroid problems lessened or vanished when they went gluten-free.

One thing is starting to become clear; whether people have Celiac Disease or not, many people are finding some definitive health benefits from switching to a gluten-free diet.

Is Gluten-Free Right for Me?

One of the biggest reasons that many health professionals are leaning towards reducing or eliminating gluten from a diet is because of the way gluten reacts in most of our bodies. The way gluten stimulates the immune system to cause gut inflammation is a big reason why many people have what’s called a “leaky gut”. When a person has a leaky gut, it means that the food that goes through the digestive tract can get loose into the blood stream before it’s properly digested. When this happens, the immune system can cause inflammation throughout the blood stream, and the body creating symptoms like fatigue, allergies, and headaches.

Additionally, the grains aspect that’s gluten is attached to is often loaded with anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are substances in certain plants that serve as a defense against animal predators. They have complicated names like phytic acid, lectins, and saponins, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that these proteins are designed to make us feel badly so that we avoid eating them in the future.

Whether you have Celiac disease, digestive issues, other secondary conditions, or you’re just a health nut who’s looking to try a new approach, there are lots of upsides to making the switch, with the only t rue downside being a mild inconvenience.

Allow me to preface the next statement; I am neither 100% gluten free nor grain free, but I do pay close attention to how much of it I eat on a weekly basis. For better or worse, my body is not overly sensitive to the effects of an occasional piece of bread or bowl of pasta.

Why do I do it? A few reasons:

A. I feel better with less grains. Though I generally feel pretty well most of the time, you begin to notice the little things like more refreshed sleep or higher mid-day energy levels. Once you get a taste of that, you don’t like to let it go.

B. I treat gluten with the same watchful eye that I treat sugar and trans-fat. Even though you may not feel the difference, we know that our bodies are generally better off without them.

My recommendations? Give gluten-free a try for 2-3 weeks. You may be surprised with how you feel as you go along the process. Here are some tips and resources:

Tips

1. Cook at home as much as possible. It’s way easier to control what’s going into you when you make it yourself. Pick one day each week, determine what you want to eat for the week, and shop for those ingredients.

2. Just because something is “Gluten-Free” does NOT mean it’s healthy for you. If you want a sweet treat that’s gluten-free, have at it, just remember that it’s not a free pass to gorging on cookies for the simple reason that they use a different kind of flour.

3. Check out this Bestselling book by Diane Sanfilippo. It is loaded with recipes and easy to understand instructions for living Grain-free.

4. Cravings will come, so be prepared. Listen to what your body is craving. If you have a hankering for something salty like potato chips, then find some nuts instead. If you have a desire to eat a candy bar, find a fresh juice or a whole piece of fruit.

 

 

Coconut Oil: Is It Really Healthy for Me?

Coconut Oil: Is It Really Healthy for Me?

There are times when you look at the new trends in research, and it seems like a dizzying array of conflicting information.

Eat more whole grains
Eat less grains
Eat more fat
Fat kills

One of the casualties of these disputes has been the role of coconut oil and coconut related products. Much of it stems from the myth that all saturated fats should be eliminated from the diet. What does science say about coconut oil?

Right now, it looks pretty promising.

In epidemiological studies of cultures consuming high amounts of coconut oil, there is actually a decreased in heart disease. It also shows that when these same cultures switch to canola oil, their “bad cholesterol” goes up, as well as their triglyceride levels. (1, 2, 3)

Interesting.

In mouse studies, they find that biochemically, coconut oil actually stimulates fat breakdown. That’s right, when mice eat coconut oil, they actually burn fat more and have lower cholesterol levels. (4, 5)

Very interesting

And a study in women with abdominal obesity, scientists wanted to see if coconut oil would increase cholesterol levels. What they actually found was coconut oil supplementation led to a decrease in abdominal obesity.

Ultimately, the key is to listen to what your body is telling you. Saturated fat is a necessary component to brain and nerve health. Without it, your nerves simply re-build or regenerate the way that they need to.

What’s more important than saturated fat content is understanding where your food comes from. Real food provides real nutrition. Fake food and processed food will cause sickness, fatness, and obesity.

 

1. COCONUT OIL: Atherogenic or Not? (What therefore causes Atherosclerosis?) By Conrado S. Dayrit, MD. FACC. FPCC. FPCP. Philippine Journal Of CARDIOLOGY. July-September 2003, Volume 31 Number 3:97-104

2. Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau island studies. Am J Clin Nutr 1981 Aug;34(8):1552-61.

3. The role of coconut and coconut oil in coronary heart disease in Kerala, south India. Trop Doct. 1997 Oct;27(4):215-7.

4.  Dietary coconut oil increases conjugated linoleic acid-induced body fat loss in mice independent of essential fatty acid deficiency. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Oct 15;1737(1):52-60. Epub 2005 Sep 13.

5. Dietary Conjugated Linoleic Acid Induces Lipolysis in Adipose Tissue of Coconut Oil-Fed Mice but not Soy Oil-Fed Mice. Lipids. 2011 Jun 4.

6. Effects of Dietary Coconut Oil on the Biochemical and Anthropometric Profiles of Women Presenting Abdominal Obesity. Lipids. 2009 May 13.

7.  A diet rich in coconut oil reduces diurnal postprandial variations in circulating tissue plasminogen activator antigen and fasting lipoprotein (a) compared with a diet rich in unsaturated fat in women. J Nutr. 2003 Nov;133(11):3422-7.

 

http://coconutoil.com/peer_reviewed/

Olive Oil: The Delicious Anti-Inflammatory

Olive Oil – The Delicious Anti-Inflammatory

Last year during the holidays, I had the pleasure of receiving an incredible gift from one of my patients. She brought a 1L bottle of one of the finest olive oils from Italy. I was thrilled, because anyone that knows me knows that I love the taste of extra virgin olive oil, and I love the tremendous health benefits of this healthy fat.

Research is now showing that not only is it a great source of healthy fat, it also has a great benefit of lowering inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a large source of chronic pain, especially in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other disease processes of that nature. Researchers have found that 3 ½ Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil had the same effect as 1 ibuprofin, without the damaging side effects. Now 3 ½ Tbsp may jump your calorie intake, but remember that almost all of these calories come in the form of healthy fats which are readily burned off during your daily activities.

Just remember, cooking and heating the oil will disintegrate many of the health benefits, so eat this oil raw. Put it on a nice green salad, or add it to your favorite cold dishes. Enjoy the taste, and sleep easy knowing that your body is loving it as much as your taste buds!

http://www.arthritistoday.org/nutrition-and-weight-loss/healthy-eating/food-and-inflammation/olive-oil-inflammation.php

http://www.redheracles.net/media/upload/research/pdf/173751181320928216.pdf

Sugar Substitutes: Splenda Isn’t So Splendid

Sugar Substitutes: Splenda isn’t So Splendid

Artificial sweeteners: Are they really safe?

Artificial sweeteners: Are they really safe?

One of the greatest things about being a structural orthogonal chiropractor is getting to

see the reaction people have as they notice their bodies start to heal. Some of the most common secondary conditions that people present with are headaches and migraines. Of course, I’d love to tell you that EVERYONE’s secondary conditions get better once their structure is restored, but reality dictates otherwise. It’s times like these where you really have to take a look at someone’s lifestyle and environmental factors to see what else may be causing their problem.

One of the most common problems I see in practice is related to toxicity from sugar substitutes like Splenda, Sweet & Low, and Equal. While all of these products have been FDA approved for safe consumption by the general public, the truth is that many people have sensitivities to their chemical make up.

When aspartame (Nutrasweet) is digested, it forms products in the body that are toxic.

When aspartame (Nutrasweet) is digested, it forms products in the body that are toxic.

The metabolic products of aspartame, the sweetener in Equal, have been known to overexcite neurons in the brain causing headaches, insomnia, and seizure disorders. Sucralose has been shown to alter hormone production in women. These chemical changes have also been known to cause difficulty with digestion in people as well. I’ve seen dozens of patients where the only change I recommended for them was to stop using artificial sweeteners in their coffee, and to stop drinking diet soft drinks and their body responded immediately.

The big thing to remember is that just because something may not cause symptoms in most people does not make it healthy to consume. Though there are no calories from these sugar substitutes, more research is showing that these substances do little in stopping weight gain, and may actually promote it due to overeating.

Instead, look to things like stevia as a sugar substitute if necessary. If you can avoid it at all,  look to natural foods like raw fruit to satisfy you sweet toothe.

 

What’s the Paleo Diet?

What is the Paleo Diet?

Armed with 2013 RESOLUTIONS, people everywhere are looking for that next great

Contrary to popular belief, there's no shortage of foods to eat in Paleo

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no shortage of foods to eat in Paleo

diet or eating plan to help them reach a healthier body shape and type.
In the practice, you may have heard words like “Paleo” or “Primal” Diet in discussions with some of our fitness minded practice members.  A primal or paleolithic diet is one that is based on the philosophy of eating only that which was available to our ancestors from 10,000+ years ago. While there are many different interpretations, the core of the diet is this:

  • Heavy in organic range meats (Grass fed beef, free range chicken, wild caught fish) and nutrient dense veggies,
  • Moderate on low-allergenic nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashews), and fresh low glycemic fruits (mainly berries).
  • Sparingly on dairy. If you do have it, go raw dairy
  • Grains and sugar products are avoided at all costs.

When most people think Paleo, they think of a bacon and eggs “Atkins” style diet, when in reality, it’s just rooted in eating…well…FOOD.

Listen folks, there is no such thing as a miracle diet, but this is a great FOUNDATION to build a solid eating plan. Yes, a lot of people will lose weight on this diet because it is biochemically sound. Yes a lot of people can and will overcome chronic disease as a result of eating this way. But, but, but here’s the big take home message…

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

I am a huge fan of paleo, and it’s how I’ve chosen to eat because my body has done great with it. However, not everyone has the same genetic make up to process the same types of foods. Here are 3 easy steps to follow:

  1. Sugary foods, processed pasta, and processed grains program the body to store energy aka turn to fat.
  2. Eat things that are closer to being alive than dead. Raw foods, plants, unprocessed meat. Avoid things that come in a can or a box
  3. If something you eat consistently gives you energy and makes you feel better -eat it. If something consistently tires you out or makes you feel run down – don’t eat it.

Develop that inner sense, and see if Paleo is right for you. If you need help with ideas for recipes to make it fun, I highly advise Fastpaleo.com

Does My Protein Supplement Matter?

Does My Protein Supplement Matter?

Let’s say that you were going to build a a brand new house. You hired the best architect and the

Make sure your protein has organic, unprocessed whey.

Make sure your protein has organic, unprocessed whey.

best builders in the world to create the house of your dreams. Now once it comes time to build, you start to choose cheap materials, Chinese Drywall, and low quality screws to hold the place together. So you now have this gorgeous looking house that’s ready to go. Years go by when you start noticing some creaking floor boards. Leaks spring up throughout the plumbing. The walls start to show signs of cracking.

You spend thousands of dollars trying to patch all of these holes, which could have been prevented by having great materials to start with. You get the credit card statement back, and all of the patchwork you’ve done now COSTS MORE than what your original investment would have been.

Your body is like that house, and the quality of materials is related to the food you put in. Supplements, especially protein are no different. Protein is the most important type of nutrient you can put into the body. It is the building block of muscle, but it is also what helps to form enzymes that allow your body to work properly. Getting the RIGHT protein is critical for a healthy foundation.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Less than 15g of sugar per serving
  • High quality organic and grassfed Whey protein (pea protein if vegan)
  • Non-GMO and no antibiotics
  • No artificial sweeteners (Sucralose, Nutrasweet, Equal, etc.)

After years in health in fitness, I can find no higher quality product than the Whey protein offered by Jay Robb. You can find it at your local Whole Foods or Health Foods store. For Vegan options, look into brands like SunWarrior or Vega.