Written for The Healthy Planet by TJ Williams, DC, PhD
Many people are surprised to learn that a large number of our patients come in with so-called “brain” issues, including everything from ADHD to depression to PTSD and more. We also frequently have patients who come in for other problems but, once starting treatment with us, find that their mental, emotional, or neurological complaints greatly lessen or go away completely. Here are just five of the reasons why this happens.
1. There is a strong gut-brain connection
The microbiome and the brain are really inseparable. Embryologically, the gut and the brain start out at the same point, and then one goes up and one goes down. When two cells start from the same place, they always retain a memory for each other. The gastrointestinal system is the housing for the trillions of bacteria in the microbiome. The microbiome and the brain are constantly sending messages to each other and most of these messages originate from the microbiome up to the brain. In fact, there are 400 times the amount of messages coming from the microbiome to the brain than from the brain to the body. We have the ability to significantly bolster that flow of communication by improving the gut, which thereby significantly enhances brain function.
2. Brain health is connected to blood sugar
Did you know that Alzheimer’s is sometimes called type 3 diabetes or prediabetes of the brain? Certainly, if you have diabetes, you’re at an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. When your blood sugar is high, it pumps your insulin high, and insulin is inflammatory. Inflammation is a major factor in cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Also, high blood sugar causes something called glycation, where the proteins throughout your body, including in your brain, get a sugar molecule added to them. That addition of a sugar molecule is damaging—it is actual damage to that particular molecule in your brain. The more glycation that happens in our brain, the more prone we are to neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. The thyroid and your brain
People with thyroid issues can exhibit a lot of symptoms that affect their brain including fatigue, brain fog, apathy, irritability, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. We’ve seen people in our clinic with thyroid disorders who have been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. We have also had patients who were hospitalized for psychotic disorders as a result of Hashimoto’s. There is no denying that some thyroid issues are completely mismanaged by mainstream medicine and that, by correctly healing problems with the thyroid, brain function improves dramatically.
4. The role of fats in brain health
The standard American diet includes way too many carbs and not nearly enough good fats. It’s been known in psychiatry since 1990 that omega-3 fatty acids are perhaps as good a treatment for things like bipolar illness as many bipolar medications. In fact, research shows that omega-3s have a positive effect on all types of pervasive mental and emotional problems, including anxiety, ADD, and autism, as well as overall mood.
5. The role of community in brain health
There is no doubt that lack of communication and social isolation is deadly. In fact, social determinants of health are much more important that genetics. And it is not just having a community that matters, but also who you choose to surround yourself with. It is important that we deliberately cultivate friends in our lives who make us healthier. This is one of the great unanticipated benefits we’ve seen in our clinic—the connection and support our patients receive with other health-minded people. Research shows that our social networks greatly impact brain health and our overall well-being.
If you would like more information regarding any of the treatments, therapies, or services offered at The Institute of Natural Health, please contact us at (314) 293-8123 or visit us at the inhstl.com. Dr. TJ Williams is the Clinic Director for the Institute of Natural Health and the host of the radio program Wellness 101, which provides common-sense, science-based strategies for a healthy life. Wellness 101 airs Sundays at 3:00pm on FM NewsTalk 97.1.