How To Improve Your Brain Health

brainhLife expectancy is getting longer but sadly, quality of life can be impaired by the degenerative disorders of the brain that are becoming more prevalent. Every year in March, Brain Awareness Week (BAW) aims to educate people on the latest brain research findings and on developments in research on brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and other problems that affect brain function, such as strokes.

We all want to live life to the full, into old age, so Johan C. Jeronimus DC DACNB, an Ealing Chiropractor and founder of Neuroworks Clinic offers three steps that could have significant benefits for brain health, throughout life, for all of us.

Here is his three-step strategy for better brain health:

  1. Sleep Well!

Sleep has many positive benefits for brain health and our quality of life, with its beneficial effects on levels of anxiety and stress and helping to improve and stabilise mood. During sleep, the toxins that accumulate in the brain can be flushed out, and Neurotransmitters are replenished, for example, Serotonin is very important in managing wellbeing, helping to alleviate depression, anxiety and stress in our daily lives.

Not getting sufficient sleep, for whatever reason, puts us at risk of clinical depression. (1)

  1. Keep Moving!

The benefits of taking regular exercise are two-fold. Indirectly, exercise brings improved sleep, an uplift in mood, and reduced anxiety and stress levels. All of which, are factors in avoiding cognitive impairment. Directly, exercise brings health benefits for the brain in less insulin resistance, reduced inflammation and  improved release of growth factors, chemicals that help improve the number of newly created brain cells as well as the proliferation of the new veins and capillaries that feed the brain.

One point to stress regarding exercise though, is that it is important when doing any physical activity to wear the correct head protection. Any head injury is potentially serious, so no matter how trivial it may appear, if you do get injured, seek medical advice right away.

It is also important to exercise regularly – and for many of us, motivation is a big issue, so participating in a class, exercising with a friend or engaging a personal trainer are all things that could help. (2)

  1. Eat Well!

Keeping our brains and bodies healthy depends on giving both the right fuel in the form of food, drink and supplementation. Your Ealing Chiropractor can advise on diet and lifestyle changes to help you as well as providing advice on supplements that might be particularly beneficial in your case.

Eating right need not be boring  – for example, it is not necessary to give up coffee or chocolate as two or three cups a day and half to one ounce of dark chocolate daily both have beneficial effects on concentration, memory and mood.

Eating beans or pulses that help to ‘iron out’ any spikes in levels of blood sugar will keep the glucose that the brain uses as ‘fuel’ flowing steadily.

The cardiovascular system transports nutrition around the body and into the brain. An adequate blood supply is vital. Eating monounsaturated fats (for example, Avocados) and essential fatty acids (wild salmon, rich in Omega-3 is a good source), help to keep brain and body functioning healthily. Whole grains also benefit the cardiovascular system, providing soluble and insoluble fibre that has been shown to decrease risks for heart disease.

Protect your brain from the harmful effects of oxidative stress with the powerful antioxidants in berries, particularly blueberries.

To help reduce the cognitive decline, (a ‘side-effect’ of the number of birthdays we have had), ensure an adequate intake of Vitamin E. Seeds and nuts are both good sources and one ounce daily is all that is needed.(3)

Help Is At Hand

Your Ealing Chiropractor can help you with these three steps to a healthier brain.

  • It might be that back pain or another physical problem is stopping you from taking the regular exercise you should.
  • Perhaps, you have a stressful and demanding job that is robbing you of your restorative sleep because you just cannot ‘switch off’ at night.
  • It might be that in your busy day, ensuring that the nutritional needs of your body and brain are met in full is an area where you need some help and advice.

If any of the points above apply to you, help is at hand. For your overall wellbeing and for the long-term health of your brain, call Neuroworks today to arrange an appointment on 020 8566 3757.

Note: The team at Neuroworks is 100% in agreement with the aims and work of the DANA Foundation, organizers of Brain Awareness Week but is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with it.

(1) https://www.perthbraincentre.com.au/lifestyle-changes-to-support-a-healthy-brain-and-overall-well-being/

(2) http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

(3) http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain

 

Food Allergies Effects on Brain & Body Health

food allergy and bodyMany people, suffering from a diverse range of symptoms including joint stiffness, inflammation, and muscle aches attribute these symptoms to ageing. Those with memory problems and lack of focus (brain fog), even fear Alzheimer’s Disease or similar conditions. Many of these worries could be groundless – in fact, many could be directly attributable to a food or ingredient in the diet that is causing these inflammatory reactions.

Food allergy treatment is something that more people are investigating now that food allergies and intolerances are more widely publicised. For many, finding the root cause of their symptoms and eliminating the offending foodstuff from their diets has led to an improvement in health. Sadly, many more people continue to suffer with these undiagnosed problems with the result that the inflammatory changes within their bodies are worsening over time and, in some cases, can result in serious health issues.

Research on the effects of inflammation in the body have shown some worrying results; Brain inflammation, for example, has been linked to many problems, from mild conditions such as brain fog to more serious problems including clinical depression and degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. In the body, inflammatory problems such as arthritis can cause a great deal of pain and incapacity as the immune system attacks body tissues and causes damage to joints.

The Difference between Food Allergies and Food Intolerance

The symptoms of food allergy can manifest very suddenly and while for some, they may be mild, for others, anaphylactic shock can be life-threatening. For those with food allergies, the only solution is to stay away from the foods causing the problem.

For food intolerance sufferers, while the symptoms may not be as dramatic as in the case of an allergy, however, food intolerance can cause very serious long-term health problems. Psychological symptoms can be mild (feeling slightly ‘brain fogged’) to more serious conditions such as depression and even dementia. Physical symptoms may include skin problems (for example, eczema), mouth problems including ulcers and canker sores, and digestive upsets including bloating, wind, constipation and/or diarrhoea.

Many people are surprised to learn that foods that have never caused a problem before can suddenly provoke a reaction at any age.

Do You Suspect a Food Allergy or Intolerance?

It is estimated that 2% of the Australian population has some level of food allergy while for children, the figure is as high as 5%. Coeliac disease where wheat gluten causes major problems for sufferers affects one in every hundred people but as many never get a diagnosis there may be many more people affected than we know.

For undiagnosed Coeliacs and for others who have a sensitivity to gluten or another type of food intolerance, inflammatory changes caused by the allergen in the diet may be causing long term harm and storing up potentially serious health consequences later on.

However, for those who suspect that the clues to the cause of our ‘brain fog’, aching muscles, upset tummies and stiff joints may lie in our diets, food allergy treatment can be sought. Sunbury Chiropractor Daniel Chatfield can offer nutritional guidance and supplement advice as well as Chiropractic treatment for his patients. Please arrange an appointment to discuss the options and possible treatment alternatives available, call Chatfield Chiropractic today on (03) 9746 3977 (Sunbury) or (03) 9303 9952 (Roxburgh Park).

FebFast – Make this month matter!

brainTake a break from alcohol, sugar, caffeine and digital overload this month because you deserve to give your brain health a kick start.

Food substances and brain health

Many people find it surprising that what you eat can actually damage your brain. Have you ever heard someone say: “You are what you eat?” The thing is that it is valid argument and a great part of who you are comes from your brain.  Let’s have a look at the effects that certain food substances has on brain health.

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages are made up of many different substances, but the main substance that has the potential of damaging our brains is ethanol. The relaxing and euphoric effects of this psycho-active substance cause people to enjoy such beverages. Short term and long term alcohol use could have drawbacks for your brain health. Your brain cells will potentially degenerate and brain dysfunction is very likely to follow. [1]

Sugar

The sugar (sucrose) we use in our diets is made up of glucose and fructose and in our bodies, our blood glucose levels are regulated by two hormones.

  • Insulin: lowers blood sugar levels
  • Glucagon: raises blood glucose levels

Our bodies have less control over fructose and this is where the trouble starts. If our blood glucose levels are in excess, the glucose is changed into glycogen which is a storage form of glucose in the muscles and the liver and from there it may even be converted into fat, again for storage.

Fructose however, can be directly converted into fat and this may cause damage at any particular site. Also, if you eat too much sugar for too long, your body may become resistant to insulin and your brain health could be in severe jeopardy. [2]

Why do our brains need rest?

Sleep plays a major role in brain health and sleep disruption has an impact on cognitive functioning and brain recovery. It is of cardinal importance that we get some shut-eye during every 24 hour (or circadian) cycle.

Sleep disruption after traumatic brain injuries range from metabolic disturbances and compromised blood brain barrier (BBB) to brain cell degeneration and it may also have an impact on neuroplasticity.

Experts advise at least 6-7 hours of sleep per night and they believe that proper sleeping habits may postpone or slow down the onset of neuropsychiatric, neuro-traumatic and neurodegenerative disorders. [3][4]

To summarise

It is highly advisable to give your brain the treatment it so desperately deserves. I mean think about it our brains are basically the computers of our bodies and they are at work 24/7. Listen to your body: stay away from sugar and energy drinks containing caffeine, dim your lights for a while before counting those sheep and try to stick to regular sleeping patterns to support the health of your brain and become a refreshed version of yourself!

References:

  1. Oscar-Berman M, Marinković K. Alcohol: effects on neurobehavioral functions and the brain. Neuropsychology review. 2007 Sep 1;17(3):239-57.
  2. Tomlinson DR, Gardiner NJ. Glucose neurotoxicity. Nature reviews. January 2008; vol. 9: 36-45.
  3. Lucke-Wold BP, Smith KE, Nguyen L, Turner RC, Logsdon AF, Jackson GJ, Huber JD, Rosen CL, Miller DB. Sleep disruption and the sequelae associated with traumatic brain injury. Neuroscience & Bio-behavioural Reviews. 2015 Aug 31;55:68-77.
  4. Farooqui AA. The Effects of Diet, Exercise, and Sleep on Brain Metabolism and Function. Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Neurological Disorders 2014 (pp. 1-42). Springer International Publishing.

Asperger’s, Symptoms and Treatments

aspAt Perth Brain Centre, the team see many children affected by Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s treatment Perth using Neurofeedback has been very helpful for those affected by the condition, one of the less severe on the Autistic Spectrum.

Children with Asperger’s have difficulties in social skills, often having an overwhelming desire to know everything about a very precise or narrow area of interest such as train timetables or a particular comic book character.

No medication can ‘cure’ Asperger’s, although there are medicines that can be valuable in the treatment of symptoms. At Perth Brain Centre, we offer a different way, Neurofeedback therapy. This, along with the other help available to our young patients and their families has proved hugely beneficial. To learn more about treatment options we can offer in Asperger’s treatment Perth, contact us on (08) 6500 3277 and arrange a preliminary appointment.

Symptoms

Children do not usually experience delayed development of language skills but, in common with others affected by disorders on the Autistic spectrum, they do have delays in development of fine and gross motor skills. They often have problems building friendships and can go on to experience depression and anxiety as adults.

Symptoms and their level of severity can vary widely between individuals and can make getting an initial diagnosis difficult. However, the treatments available can produce great results and benefits for the whole family.

Symptoms may include:

  • Motor skills problems leading to clumsiness and a general lack of co-ordination
  • Problems with understanding and making facial expressions
  • Difficulties with eye contact
  • Speech lacking inflection, often rapid
  • Lack of empathy with others
  • Problems understanding humour
  • Obsession with a very specific subject

What Help Is Available?

At Perth Brain Centre, we focus on Neurofeedback therapy to address the condition as a whole, rather than on medications prescribed to help with the individual symptoms.

Neurofeedback is producing some impressive results in the reduction of symptoms of disorders in the Autistic Spectrum.

We can particularly highlight improvements in patients’ physical health, behaviour, cognitive and sensory awareness, speech, language, communication and social skills.

How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?

Neurofeedback works to strengthen weak or abnormal areas of connectivity, restoring or instigating normal function. It is an invaluable tool with positive effects on the functioning of the brain without using drugs and makes improvements possible in the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Positive changes seen and experienced include:

  • Becoming calmer with less anxiety and a reduction in hyperactive behaviour
  • Better behaviour and compliance, with improved focus, attention and creative thinking skills
  • More empathy with the emotions and feelings of others, improved social skills and cultivation of friendships with others
  • Improvements in language with slower speech and more ordered, ‘normal’, patterns of speech

Perth Brain Centre could help your child, find out about Asperger’s treatment Perth by calling us today on (08) 6500 3277. Neurofeedback Therapy is a safe, drug-free treatment that produces positive changes in the brain with long-term benefits for your child – and for the whole family.

Probiotics Can Help Your Mental Wellbeing Too

probProbiotics have become hugely popular for their beneficial effects on the digestive system but, as research has shown, they can also be very helpful for symptoms of anxiety, low mood and depression.

Live Yogurts and probiotic drinks are two of the most popular ways of adding probiotics to our diet. But are these the best way of doing so? The team at Eastland Family Chiropractic who supply vital nutritional information to patients as part of their ongoing Chiropractic care say a resounding ‘No’ for two reasons!

  1. Many of these products are loaded with inflammatory sugars and other processed and refined ingredients.
  2. Because there are many different strains of probiotic bacteria and some are more beneficial than others when it comes to helping with a specific problem, getting sound nutritional advice will ensure that you are taking the right bacterial strain or combination of strains for your particular needs.

Do You Ever Have a ‘Gut Feeling’?

It will be helpful in understanding the benefits of probiotics to look at why our bodies need them. If you have ever experienced that flutter of butterflies in the pit of your stomach or had a ‘sinking feeling’ when you received bad news, you will already have discovered the Enteric Nervous System (ENT), the ‘Gut Brain’ or as it is often referred to. The ENT is directly connected to our brain, communicating information  about the whole of the digestive system via a huge network of neurons.

The ENT has been the subject of a lot of research. It seems that it is responsible for regulating digestive processes such as how quickly food passes through our intestines, the levels of acid in our stomachs and the maintenance of the mucus coating lining all the tubes and passageways of our intestines. Interestingly, the research has shown that this ‘Gut brain’ monitors the balance between trillions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microbes in our intestines. At first, the right balance of bacteria and in sufficient amounts was discovered to help with the functioning of our immune systems and keeping our health in balance. Now it is becoming increasingly clear that gut bacteria have a vital role to play in maintaining our mental health too.

The Many Benefits of Probiotics

Having an imbalance in our gut bacteria, when the ‘bad’ bacteria start to get the upper hand or there are insufficient bacteria due (perhaps) to having to take antibiotics for a health problem, debilitating digestive problems can take hold. These include Ulcerative colitis, Irritable Bowel syndrome, Crohn’s and more. An imbalance in this microbiome, is also a factor in diabetes, obesity and Celiac disease.

More recently, researchers have been studying the link between an imbalance of gut bacteria and mental health issues such as low mood, and feelings of sadness, anxiety and depression.

Two studies in particular showed that probiotics could be extremely beneficial:

  • A Canadian Study in Vancouver showed that eating fermented foods (which have high levels of probiotics) and taking exercise had the biggest effect in reducing levels of social anxiety among the group of students participating in the study. It was also interesting that students who were most neurotic gained the most benefit from the combination of probiotics and exercise.
  • A Netherlands research project among young adults who experienced mood disorders found that among the group who received daily probiotic supplement containing eight different strains of ‘good’ bacteria, experienced lower levels of depression, anxiety and Cortisol, (the stress hormone).

How To choose The Right Probiotic Combination

As we mentioned earlier, not all probiotic strains are the same and some individual strains or combinations are better for specific health problems. Unfortunately, with the vast number of Probiotic products and supplements available, as patients at Eastland Family Chiropractic have reported, it can be hard to know which product to choose.

Thankfully, the team at Eastland are able to give a detailed assessment of your problem and advise, not just on the correct type of probiotic supplement for you, but also provide nutritional advice on probiotic-rich foods you can incorporate into your diet. Call Eastland Family Chiropractic (on 03 9095 7990), arrange your initial appointment and take your first step to feeling better, today.

Suffering from Meniere’s Disease?

mrnIf you have been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease, you won’t need telling how unpleasant and upsetting the symptoms can be. This is a condition with no solid cure, and it’s all about management in order to live a life as free of symptoms as possible.

If you’re not sure what your current symptoms are related to, and you’re worried they might be down to this rare condition, then it’s certainly time to get checked out, as when left unmanaged, Meniere’s Disease can cause very unpleasant symptoms indeed.

Here at Eastern Brain Centre, we are experienced at dealing with Meniere’s Disease, advising sufferers on how to reduce the frequency of attacks, as well as using highly effective vestibular rehabilitation methods, in conjunction with lifestyle advice, in order to rid suffers of severe symptoms, and bring harmony back to life.

If you’re not sure what Meniere’s Disease is, basically this is a condition which affects the inner ear, often thought to be caused by a pressure problem within the ear to begin with. Symptoms include vertigo, tinnitus, a feeling of pressure deep inside the ear, distorted sound, sensitivity to sound, and in severe cases it can also cause permanent hearing loss. When an attack occurs symptoms can last anything from a few hours, or a few days before they disappear completely, and in many cases this can cause anxiety and depression, because of the unpredictable nature of the condition, and the unpleasant symptoms attached to it.

Of course, like any condition in life, Meniere’s Disease affects different people in varying degrees of severity, so management has to be centred around the person involved, rather than being a one size fits all kind of deal.

Meniere’s Disease most commonly affects people aged between 20-60, and is slightly more prevalent in women than men. When left unmanaged, the condition can progress to later stages, which can result in permanent hearing loss as a worst case scenario, including severe balance problems as a result.

As you can see, Meniere’s Disease is not something to be taken lightly, and anyone who has suffered the effects of the condition, be it to a minor degree or more severe, will be all too aware of the distressing effects this can have on a daily life, especially when an attack can be so unpredictable.

If you are at all worried about the effects of Meniere’s Disease, whether you have been diagnosed with the condition, or whether you have a suspicion that you may be suffering from it, or perhaps you are experiencing problems with ear-related issues, balance and tinnitus, then don’t hesitate to call the practice now on 03 8652 1628 to arrange an appointment. We are experienced in helping many different people combat Meniere’s Disease, manage the condition, and live a life much less impacted by this rare and upsetting problem.

Meniere’s Disease doesn’t have to rule your life, simply take action now and take that first step towards a much more stable and balanced future.

Anxiety Treatment, Strategies to Help You Cope

anxeqThe results of a 2007 study published by the Australian Government Department of Health show that anxiety disorders affected 14.4% of all people aged 16-85 years in the 12 months before their participation in the study.

Despite the prevalence of the problem, many people try to cope without help because they are fearful of admitting that they need anxiety treatment. This need not be so. Anxiety is a natural, normal emotion but one that can lead to trouble if thoughts and behaviours reinforce the anxious feelings rather than allowing them to dissipate. The resulting problems range from the exhaustion of constant, ‘low-grade’ anxiety, to the crippling effects of intense and debilitating anxiety.

If anxiety has been a problem for you, taking the decision to find out about how we can help is an important first step on your journey to recovery. To help you make your decision, here is a brief overview of some techniques for dealing with anxiety.

Neurofeedback Treatment

This treatment is suitable for almost everyone and is non-invasive and painless. The sessions involve using feedback from the patients’ own brainwaves to retrain the brain. Scans can pinpoint areas of the brain where anxiety is causing brainwave activity to be too fast or slow and normalise that activity.

Nutritional Advice

This can be of tremendous benefit as patients suffering from anxiety often have hectic lifestyles that may result in skipped meals and quick snacks of highly processed foods with poor nutritional content.

  • Supplementation is no substitute for a good quality diet full of ‘nutrient-dense’ foods that supply the body’s needs. However, where there is a serious deficit, it may not be possible (at least in the short-term) to correct this with diet alone.
  • Minerals such as Magnesium, and Vitamins, especially D3 and the B group vitamins, B6, B12, Riboflavin and Folate may be seriously deficient and this can make the symptoms of anxiety much worse.
  • Published studieshave demonstratedthat treatment with the prescription medication Fluoxetine (Prozac) can be more effective when used in conjunction with Vitamin D3 or Magnesium supplementation.

A multi-vitamin might help a little, but the correct dosage of the most bio-available forms of specific nutrients will produce optimum results. Expert advice from Perth Brain Centre will be invaluable during your anxiety treatment.

Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

Rapid breathing is common during panic attacks and anxiety episodes. Because it alters the oxygen/carbon dioxide balance in the blood, symptoms can escalate.

However, abdominal breathing techniques that slow down your breathing rate help to calm the situation and the symptoms. These techniques are simple to learn and can be practiced anywhere although they must be taught correctly to be effective.

Progressive muscular relaxation is another technique that, used in conjunction with abdominal breathing for around twenty minutes each day, will help re-program your body to relax more quickly and ‘on-demand’.

Lifestyle Guidance

In addition to the nutritional advice and relaxation techniques mentioned above, we can give lifestyle guidance to maximise the benefits of your anxiety treatment. This could include suggesting strategies for coping with insomnia, panic attacks and difficult situations.