Dr. Alison discusses her top 5 ways to improve brain health. September is brain health month, join the group here:

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Hello. And welcome today. We are talking the best and easiest thing that you can do to improve your brain health. Now, in September of this year, I have been going through a different topic, a different category every day in my Facebook group. So you can find this in the functional medicine community with Dr. Alison and I’ll drop the link below here in the comments as well. So make sure you join us because I talk about a lot more information, a lot more in depth, and it’s totally free. It’s open. Everyone is a great private community. You can ask questions, you can get help. You need I’m there almost every single day. So make sure you join us and really just learn a lot more about functional medicine and your health. So let’s dive into kind of a big overview of how to best support your brain.

So the first thing that I’m going to recommend is that you start focusing on exercise because exercise is so important for the body, but it’s also so important for the brain. And we don’t even think about that as much. Most people are so focused on weight loss and strength and how they look. They’ve totally forget all of the other amazing benefits. So what exercise does is it improves the brain derived neurotrophic factor. So this is like a growth hormone. The BDNF that helps the brain increase the neurons and the connections in the brain. It also helps the brain recover from trauma injury, stress, and calms down inflammation too. Obviously exercise improves insulin resistance and blood sugar issues. And the all you need is like a 20 minute block. Now, the more intense do your exercises a little bit longer, it is the more benefit you’ll see.

But if you could just do 20 minutes a day, you’re on your way, it would be a great support for you. Exercise also improves nitric oxide levels to modulate the immune system, the vascular system, and so much more. So this works on focus and numbery and brain health and stops degeneration too. So exercise very important. So make it a goal this week, wherever you’re at right now to add in at least two sessions this week, we’re go a little bit longer, go a little bit farther, do something for your brain. Okay. The next thing that I recommend is maintaining a healthy blood sugar level throughout the day, glucose, blood sugar, all of these things are so important for the brain one because the brain needs glucose for energy and fuel, but it also needs healthy levels to make good. Neuro-Transmitters so serotonin dopamine, GABA, all of these things are dependent on your diet, your insulin and your blood sugar levels.

So having a healthy blood sugar level doesn’t mean that you’re cutting out carbs necessarily. It doesn’t mean that you’re eating carbs all day long. Most people hear sugar and they mean they didn’t cut it out or add more something in there. It’s really about keeping a healthy level of protein, fat and carbs in your bloodstream all day long, making sure that your pancreas is releasing insulin in a healthy way, and that your cells are receptive to influence. So they’re able to use that energy that you’re putting in your body. So you might be intermittent fasting, and that might not be working out for you. So if you’re more tired, {if your anchesare aches}, if your joints are more achy, you might have a brain inflammation issue going on with your blood sugar causing neurogenic joint pain and inflammation. So for a lot of people that I work with, they either aren’t eating enough calories, they’re eating too much junk food, they’re skipping breakfast, or just having coffee.

They’re typically my drive-through people where the first thing they do is get coffee and a muffin. And then they’re off for the rest of the day. And maybe they think about lunch at like two o’clock in the afternoon. If this is you, I think I talk about this. Every single video I do, because it’s so important. Our brain, our body, our hormones, everything is so dependent on good nutrition, healthy blood sugar, not skipping meals to harm our body, or I can wait. There’s so much in depth here. So if you struggle with depression, brain fog, anxiety, fatigue, all of these brain issues, memory issues are dependent on insulin and blood sugar. So the first thing you need to do is first of all, figure out where you are with your blood sugar. Of course you want to do blood work, find out your glucose or hemoglobin A1C, but you also want to figure out if you’re the hypoglycemic where it’s too low or it’s too high in the pre-diabetic diabetic range.

So if you’re waking up in the morning, you’re so tired. You’re not even hungry. You grab caffeine. You can never eat again until night. When you binge, you’re probably a low blood sugar hypoglycemic person. You need to eat like every two hours to three hours, depending on what’s going on for you. You need to have more protein and not need to stop bingeing on carbs so much. Okay? If you’re in the prediabetes high blood sugar range, you’re probably really tired after you eat, do crave a lot of sugar as well, where there’s no such thing as too much food. Like you can’t stop eating. There’s a lot of symptoms that go along with this. So for you, if you’re on the high end range, intermittent fasting might work out for you as well. But both sides need to have more protein, healthier levels of fat to see where you are.

Now. Of course you can work with functional medicine physician. You can ask me, you can talk to your doctor about where you are with these symptoms in your brain, but definitely make sure that you’re starting to eat towards your patterns. Okay? I could talk for hours about this. So I like I guilty skipping over it and just throwing that at you. But through the rest of my podcasts, I have a ton of information about blood sugar. You can message me. We’ll get you figured out, okay. Number three, managing stress. So easier said than done, right? Stress will actually degenerate and atrophy your brain causes it to shrink stress, increases inflammation. It degenerates our protective barriers it affects memory systems in our circadian rhythms. You already know this because you know that if you get overstressed, you can’t sleep. We have insmonia. You don’t feel good.

Everything hurts through. You have no energy. You feel like you can’t remember anything. Like if you didn’t sleep the night before, you don’t know where your car keys are in the morning, right? So stress is a major, major factor in our brain health. So we can have psychological stress and physiological stress, and we need to be able to manage both to the best of our ability. Of course. So psychological, I think is what we typically think of stress like fighting with your spouse or your kids stress out work. The satisfaction in your job or your career does not feeling focused. Traffic jams, right? Whatever stresses for you as that psychological stress now physiological stress is chronic pain, inflammation, allergies. Maybe your blood sugar is on that rollercoaster all day long. And your body’s just perceiving the stress. Anemia is another big one that I have written down.

All of these things can stress out your body and cause your brain to atrophy high cortisol happens when we’re in this just constant release of stress. It inflames the brain and causes insomnia energy crashes throughout the day. You might find yourself being like that night owl type of person, but is actually just a stress response that we need to manage. So how do we manage stress? There’s a lots and lots of different ways. So the number one thing I always recommend is therapy. Something like EMDR, there’s amazing therapists out there. I’ve worked with so many. If you don’t like the person you’re working with, find someone else, ask for referrals, ask me who I know and well, I’m in the St Louis area and I can get you get you help. I’ve worked with so many horrible therapists and counselors. I’ve worked with just a handful of good ones.

So don’t give up, keep trying, okay. Now dealing with the past and trauma and abuse and as scary as it is digging into those issues because research shows that even childhood abuse and trauma might not manifest in the brain until you’re 40 or 50 years old. And all of a sudden you feel like why is everything shutting down? Meaning research on heart attacks and stroke and the relationship to childhood abuse. So this is so important in the context of therapy, right? People to support you and creating a sense of safety in your body and your mind to manage the stress, the emotions and memories, support. Like you need everything to be able to manage this. This is not just, oh, get a better night’s sleep. I’ll tell you about my oils. I use those things are important, but for me, those, this is the big picture.

This is what’s going to get you. There is getting through and working with someone who can support you in these ways. The other thing I like to do to manage stress and the brain is Vegas nerve exercises. It’s V-A-G-U-S the nerve, not the city where you go party. And what that does is it supports the brain and the autonomic system. So it will calm down first to calm down the brain. Second of all, it calms down the body. And then third of all, it calms down inflammation, pain, and how we’ve used stress as well. Meditation is an amazingly helpful tool. I know I always roll my eyes when someone says this to me as well. And it actually is so, so, so important. You can do any type of meditation. You want whatever works for you, whether it’s guided, whether it’s timed, whether you’re using something like the heart map monitor that does heart rate monitoring.

I love my muse headband too. That does monitors your brain signals to help you feel more calm and focused. I like to start with five minutes a day, get people in the habit. And at 20 minutes a day is where you see that biggest difference in your brain chemistry. Okay. Now I love to use neuroprotective and adaptogenic essential oils. So my top two would be like frankincense and copaiba use those daily under my tongue. Make sure the company that you’re using is graded for internal use, which is why I love doTERRA. I’m could talk forever about the research on there too. So maybe I’ll circle back to that in my groups and make sure you join us there too, because this is such a quick little podcast on, and I like to keep it short for you. So these are, you know, things that you can research on your own as well.

So I want to give you all the information that so you can get rolling. Okay. So my top supplements for brain health are essential fatty acids and muffled groups. So you’re probably familiar with essential fatty acids. These are like omegas that come from cold water fish, not see as avocados are healthy fats. And we have to consume them in our diet because our body cannot make them, which is why they’re called essential, good fats are necessary for our cell membranes, our neuron health antioxidant protection, and so much more, especially for women, of course, men, but for women’s hormones are so dependent on good healthy fats because all of our hormones start cholesterol, which is a good fat, and that’s how we make our hormones, estrogen, testosterone progesterone. So if you’re having menopause symptom, horrible cycles, bad acne, dry skin or skin issues, you probably are deficient in healthy fats.

This is also by fat free diets are the most dangerous things in our nutritional system because it’s degenerates our brain degenerates, our hormones degenerate ourselves. It destroys the body. So good fats in the diet. Make sure you’re taking some good omega supplements as well, because we knew so much. And honestly, we’re not eating enough healthy fats in our diet. I talked a lot about muscle groups in my Facebook group, as well as we went through this month. And these are basically carbon groups that come from like B vitamins are B complexes. So methylation is a process that takes muffled groups and transfer them to create new compounds like neurotransmitters, serotonin dopamine. And we can have defects in our methylation processes. Most people know the MTHFR gene where it messes up the whole methylation process and we need special vitamins and to watch our nutrition. So this is something that we can focus on as well, because you might not be making enough or healthy Neuro-Transmitters because you have either a genetic, genetic defect, your liver is not functioning well, your body can’t use the vitamins the way they’re coming in. Especially if there’s synthetic you need to be getting them from food or you need to be taking specific methylated, nutritional supplements, especially your B vitamins. The other thing that I would recommend is testing your homocysteine levels to make sure one that your inflammation is under control, that you don’t need to supplement. And it’s also a good sign of what’s going on with your genetics as well. Okay. Lastly, would be to get some sleep for your brain. Again, easier said than done for most people. And especially if you’re here, like trying to find a functional medicine support, probably not sleeping well. So my recommendations are very simple to start with. Because after those, everyone becomes a completely different story for the reason why they’re not sleeping.

So number one, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day. When you wake up, make sure that you get some sun light on your eyes, direct sunlight, and that will jumpstart your cortisol awakening response to get your brain triggered at night. Try and make sure to watch the sun go down. Either sit outside. I know it’s starting to get colder out. So look outside because the sun going down is a melatonin trigger as well with sleep hygiene. You want to get rid of your screen to blue, screen your phone, put your phone in the bathroom, let it charge. Turn down the brightness on your TV, where those blue light blocking glasses, get those apps on your phone to block all that blue light, all of that as well. You want to sleep in a dark room, ideally you can’t see your hand in front of your face, but if you can’t manage that, use a sleep mask, something to help you use nature sounds as well.

Try not to fall asleep to the TV or music. Something that might be too triggering for your brain use nature sounds as well. And of course I love all of my central oils for sleep because they’re so calming for the brain. They were can somebody at different levels. So again, copaiba, frankincense, lavender, keep trying different things until you figure out what you need after that. That’s when we start going into food, blood sugar levels and hormones, and how’s your cortisol doing throughout the day. I love to do the saliva test with the adrenal stress index because you take it throughout the day and that may have this phone and it measures how your cortisol is functioning throughout the day and night while you’re sleeping, it should be high in the morning. So you wake up with lots of energy. High cortisol is not always a bad thing.

We need cortisol, but it should come down throughout the day. It should be low at night. So doing a saliva tests like this can help us understand what’s going on during the day at one. Was it too high? When is it too low and help us manage that so you can get some better sleep. Okay. That was a little bit of information on a really huge topic. So I’m here to support you. If you have any questions, if you need support, if you’re looking for personalized help, I’m here for you as well. You can schedule a free online consultation. We take about 30 minutes to chat about your health, your wellness, your goals. Talk about testing, what you might need, brainstorm on a plan and move on from there. So feel free to schedule a call, message me if you have any questions and make sure you like and subscribe. So you stay tuned with all of our weekly podcasts and we’ll see you next time.

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