Nutrition for Your Best Brain Health
by Pamela Costello MD PC
Hippocrates, the Ancient Greek philosopher and the ‘Father of Clinical Medicine’, stated in the 4th century B.C.E. that disease was a product of environmental factors, diet, and lifestyle. Proper nutrition can heal the brain and nervous system through support of the neuro immune system, aide in detoxification, repair of the gastrointestinal tract, create a healing pH, decrease inflammation, and correct Candida overgrowth and bacterial imbalances. We all have individualized genetic predispositions to disease, with an increasingly deleterious effect of our toxin-saturated environment (including that of our adulterated food supply), on that genetic template. These toxic stressors contribute to higher incidences of neuro inflammatory disease, from developmental, behavioral, immunologic, and neuromuscular disorders in children, to multiple sclerosis, ALS, CIDP, chronic pain syndromes, cognitive dysfunction and mood disorders in adulthood, to dementias and other neurodegenerative disease in the elderly. Reclaiming your neurologic health and intellectual independence, therefore, requires a focused renewed strategy of identifying and removing major dietary stressors and enhancing your diet with foods supportive of healing your gut, immune, and nervous systems. Such an approach begins with realizing the relationship of your immune system to your gastrointestinal tract, and its health to the nervous system. The majority of our bodies’ immune system lies in our gut wall. The effects of exposure to environmental toxins, particularly adverse dietary and drinking/cooking water choices, take a heavy toll on your gastrointestinal health, which can predispose you to virtually any neuro inflammatory illness. Relevant nutritional considerations include: 1. Eat Organic Food, avoiding our brains’ exposure to highly neurotoxic GMO’s, pesticides, hormone and antibiotic-laden foods. 2. Eat Whole foods, avoiding processed foods full of neurotoxins and depleted of nutrition. 3. Eat a Balanced Diet with adequate nutrition for the brain by choosing safe, healthy, bioavailable sources, with the proper macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and micronutrients (essential vitamins and minerals). 4. Gluten-free alternative grain sources. The adverse effects of gluten and wheat on the brain are well established, with alternative grain sources imperative for good brain health. 5. Dairy (animal milk) products stress the gut and immune system and contribute to neuro inflammatory illness. Use animal-free (vegan) sources of milk products. 6. Good clean water source for drinking and cooking, free of heavy metals and other environmental toxins. 7. Avoid radiated food. Microwaves are close in neurotoxicity to X-ray radiation and should not be kept in your home nor used to prepare your food. Convection or toaster ovens offer an equally convenient, but much safer, alternative.8. Omega-3 rich oils, including good quality organic coconut oil, provide critical nutrients for your brain health. Brain tissue is partially comprised of omega-3 fatty acids. Including adequate sources of these in your diet allows the brain to repair itself, reduces brain and body inflammation, and is a necessary part of normal brain development in children. 9. Sugars and glycemic index and Sugar alcohols. High glycemic foods, including all processed sugars and ‘natural’ forms such as agave syrup, Sucanat, and Turbinado and sugar alcohols such as Xylitol, Erythritol, and Sorbitol, all directly cause inflammation. Processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup, as well as processed grains, whose simple carbohydrate content rapidly converts to sugar, are well-documented sources of inflammation that directly affect the brain. 10. Alkaline pH. An acidic environment creates inflammation and disease states. A diet comprised of whole, organic foods, with a 60-80% majority of alkaline foods, promotes a healing environment for the cells of the body and the brain.