Supporting Brain Health with Functional Medicine
As we get older, our bodies and brains begin to slow down. In addition to stiff muscles and joint pain, brain health begins to decline. Many people develop conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Other people experience brain decline due to injuries, trauma, or genetic factors.
Poor brain health isn’t something you have to sit back and accept. It’s caused by a variety of factors that functional medicine doctors specialize in treating:
- Poor nutrition
- Gut dysbiosis
- Poor sleep
- Heavy metal exposure
- Environmental toxins
- Lack of exercise
Poor brain health, like any other disease, has a root cause. Functional medicine is designed to get to find and treat the root cause of an illness.
Here’s how functional medicine practices can support your brain health and allow you to thrive for many years to come.
1. Nutrition and Brain Health
Functional medicine doctors address many aspects of physical and mental health, but nutrition is the foundation of what we do.
Think of your body like an extremely complex machine. With the right fuel and lubrication, everything runs smoothly. But most of us aren’t giving our bodies the nutrients they need. We advise our patients to start by incorporating more high-quality foods into their diet: whole grains, quality protein and fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
As functional medicine doctors, we assess our patients’ current eating habits and provide guidance for making changes to promote brain health. For example: the older you get, the more your brain is exposed to stress from your environment. Your brain cells receive damage, a process known as “oxidation.” However, some foods contain antioxidants, which counteract this process and boost your brain. We help patients incorporate antioxidant-rich foods to protect and benefit their brains.
2. Movement and Brain Health
Let’s continue our machine analogy… Your body will become “rusty” if you don’t move it regularly. Exercise benefits the body in many ways, from boosting your mood to raising your immune system to strengthening your muscles.
When it comes to brain health, exercise has specific benefits. According to Cleveland Clinic, a person who engages in consistent exercise is less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Movement gets your blood flowing and improves your memory, mental clarity, and mood.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Start small by incorporating more movement into your day: washing the dishes, taking a walk, folding laundry, or weeding your garden patch. Or take the plunge by signing up for a gym membership, fitness class, or downloading a fitness app. There are also hundreds of workouts available for free on YouTube.
By adding in even a few minutes of intentional movement per day, you can expect to feel better and know that you’re taking care of your brain.
3. Gut Health and Brain Health
Scientists and doctors are talking more about the importance of gut health and how it impacts every aspect of your health. The gut microbiome is responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food you eat and distributing them to the rest of your body. It also composes over 75% of your immune system.
The gut is nicknamed “the second brain,” as it’s linked to the brain through the gut-brain axis. It affects your central nervous system, which impacts your brain health, mood, neuro-pathways, and mental health.
Most of us have imbalanced gut bacteria due to poor nutrition. With the help of a functional medicine doctor and dietary changes, gut flora can be restored. The effects of a healthy gut reach to every part of your body, from brain health to inflammation to chronic illness.
4. Sleep and Brain Health
Even while you sleep, your body is working to repair, rebuild, and cleanse your systems. Proper sleep also boosts your energy, strengthens your immune system, and enhances your mood. It also slows buildup of beta-amyloid plaque, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Sleep issues may be due to a variety of factors, from stress to screen usage to vitamin deficiency. Your functional medicine doctor may help you identify areas impairing your sleep and provide guidance and resources for getting more shut eye, giving your body the time it needs to repair.
5. Social Health and Brain Health
Spending quality time with others and being involved in a community improves your overall wellbeing and benefits brain health. Socializing has been shown to slow memory loss, and engaging activities and conversations strengthen your brain like any other muscle. This reduces the risk of dementia and also stimulates new brain cells.
Functional Medicine for Brain Health in Colorado Springs
Ready to get started with functional medicine? All it takes is a quick phone call. We’ll perform an initial assessment to get to know you and match your situation with one of our healthcare treatments.
From there, Dr. Randolph James will meet with you for an in-depth consultation and construct a comprehensive plan based on your healthcare needs. Working with True Life Medicine means you’re entering into a partnership, and we’ll monitor your progress and provide guidance every step of the way.
It’s important to take steps now to improve brain health, so don’t hesitate to get started.
6 Pillars of Brain Health – Healthy Brains by Cleveland Clinic
Functional Medicine’s Role In Brain Function – Dr. Puckette (pucketteintegrativehealthcare.com)