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Brains on Fire

In our society we are facing many health challenges associated with our nervous system and brain health. We have seen exponential increases in children with ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorders, depression, anxiety, and autism just to name a few. These conditions are very taxing on families emotionally and financially as treatments involve long-term care and medication designed to manage the symptoms but not fix the nervous system and cure the disease.

The reality is much of the neurological health of children starts with the parents; however its not genetics I am talking about but epigenetics (the way in which genes are turned on and off based on their environment). As food decreases in quality and nutritional content, and GMO (genetically modified organism) food becomes more prevalent, our natural physiology therefore does not have the resources to work appropriately and our health is suffering as a result.

Understanding the cause of this neurological decline is only the first step. The next step is to start making changes to empower and inform our society to change these increasing statistics. There are a couple of things that every person can do to ensure a stronger, better functioning brain and help put the fires out.

Our brain is composed of a lot of fat, however not all fat is the same. There are good fats and bad fats. Good fats are essential for our survival and our health, and the bad fats are very dangerous and cause many diseases and even death. The good fats are the essential fatty acids Omega3, 6, and 9. Bad fats are the trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils, fats that were once liquid at room temperature but have been modified to be solid at room temperature like margarine. When we were cave men and eating animals that grazed on grasses our body physiology had an omega6 to omega3 ratio of 1:1. As society changed and we started to consume more animals that were fed grains the ratio of omega6 to omega3 started to change. During the early 1900’s the ratio of omega6 to omega3 had changed to 4:1.  Today many animals are feed an exclusively grain diet, and we are also consuming more grains which has caused the omega6 to omega3 ratio to shift to an average of 25:1.

The further the omega6 to omega3 ratio moves away from 1:1 the more our bodies become inflamed, and the more disease processes arise. To counter this inflammation and return our bodies to a proper balance, supplementing our diets with a good omega3 supplement like fish oil is essential. It is also important to consider what the food that we are eating is eating. Consuming grass fed, free range, wild caught, animals ensure those animals have a proper fat ratio as well. To keep our inflammation low it is also important to consume a low grain diet even if you are not celiac or gluten sensitive. Grains and gluten containing foods are very high in the omega 6s and increase inflammation in the body.

Consuming any food that contains partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats, is going to severely compromise your brain function and overall health. As the molecular structure of the oil changes to be solid at room temperature, our body cannot recognize and digest them. For all intent and purposes they are plastics that clog up our system, increase inflammation, and deteriorate your brain! Never ever, ever, ever eat trans fats or feed them to your friends and family.

Folic acid is another essential nutrient to the body that has a major effect on our overall health and function of our physiology and nervous system. Folic acid is thought about during pregnancy to protect the fetus from neural tube defects and developmental deformities such as spina bifida or a cleft pallet. However, the need for folic acid does not stop there. Folic acid is essential in well over 300 different known reactions happening within the body, not to mention the unknown reactions. Folic acid is essential in the synthesis of many neurotransmitters, methylation reactions that help with live detoxification, the break down of homocysteine, which is a very inflammatory molecule, DNA synthesis, tissue growth and repair, and red and white blood cell production.

Unfortunately folic acid in our diets, or through supplementation may not be enough.  Our body needs to be able to convert folic acid into the active form of folic acid; 5-methyltetrahydrafolate (5-MTHF). In our society there is about 1/3 of the population that has developed a genetic snip, which creates a problem in the conversion of the folic acid into 5-MTHF and leads to a folic acid deficiency. Therefore it becomes more appropriate to supplement with the 5-MTHF then the folic acid.

Homocysteine is an inflammatory molecule that requires folic acid, along with a few other nutrients to break it down. Too much Homocysteine in the body leads to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and many other neurodegenerative diseases. If homocysteine is not broken down the body produces a by-product of the homocysteine, homocysteic acid. Homocysteic acid is an excitatory neurotoxin that will affect other excitatory neurotransmitters, aspartic acid and glutamic acid, enhancing their effect and leading to overstimulation of the nerve and apoptosis or cell death.

The information above may sound like impending doom however we are fortunate that there are ways to screen and identify these problems, and all can be corrected with appropriate diet and supplementation. Your omega6 to Omega3 ratio as well as your concentration of trans fats can be evaluated with a simple finger stick called the blood spot fatty acid test. Homocysteine levels can be checked with a routine blood test. Checking to see if you have the genetic snip causing faulty folic acid metabolism to 5-MTHF is done with a simple DNA test.

These three physiological conditions are creating havoc within our society and causing inflammation within our nervous system. It is imperative that our children and parents of children keep their physiology healthy so we can turn the staggering numbers of children and adults with neurological disorders around, and put the fires out!

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