The brain is involved with all human actions. The brain is the most complicated organ in the universe. It is estimated that we have 100 billion neurons or nerve cells and trillions of supportive brain cells called glial cells. Each neuron is connected to other neurons by up to 40,000 individual connections between cells. Neurons communicate with each other by discharging chemical, called neurotransmitter. Main function of neurotransmitters is to exchange information throughout our brain and body. Brain is the major energy consumer in the body.
The incidence of brain disorders is on the rise and alarming. Anxiety disorders, learning disability, depression are much more prevalent today. More and more people complain on sleep disorder, brain fog, emotional problems, loss of motivation and focus. Experts have offered numerous reasons: depression is common, and economic struggles have added to our stress and anxiety, television ads promote antidepressants, and insurance plans usually cover them; the condition is being over diagnosed on a remarkable scale.
Stress can affect people of all ages, genders and circumstances and can lead to both physical and psychological health issues. An extreme amount of stress can have health consequences and adversely affect the immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems.
Reports from the CDC reveal that 1 in10 US adults say they are suffering from depression, and by 2020, depression is expected to be the world’s second-leading cause of disability. Over the past two decades, the use of antidepressants has skyrocketed. One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication. According to a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (people ages 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008.
Brain and body
The brain is an operating system of all body systems. The most crucial concept is that the mind and body (physiology and thinking) are not independent kingdoms sharing one body. The mind is not an independent cloud floating above the body. They are not even simply interdependent on each other - rather, they are one.
Some examples: Sensations of hunger cause chemical changes, low blood sugar level, which, in turn, change the way your brain orients to its surroundings, behavior, alters the priorities of your current tasks so you begin physically seeking food more actively. Once you find the food, changes in blood sugar alter your behavior again.
In stressful situations, some people get abdominal cramps and diarrhea. If you breathe too rapidly, there is less carbon dioxide in your blood. This causes the brain to react with chronic anxiety and fuzzy thinking.
Dr. D. Kharrazian in his book Why Isn’t My Brain Working? shares his experience in exploring the relationship between the immune health of the brain and the immune health of the gut. He described a case with multiple food intolerance, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and constant heartburn, remedying these gut issues helped significantly with neurotransmitter imbalances that were causing feelings of rage and worthlessness. Hypothyroidism can activate brain inflammation and dysregulate all the major brain neurotransmitters. Women with hormonal imbalances may find her estrogen drops too low before her periods, causing a serotonin dysregulation and, consequently, irritability and depression.
The brain plays a major role in gastrointestinal function, including controlling the movement of food through the intestine, releasing digestive enzymes, and regulates blood flow. Impaired brain function can affect the digestive system.
Nothing is more damaging to the brain that stress. It shrinks the brain. Chronic stress has an impact on the brain activating the adrenal gland and sympathetic plasticity. Adrenals released cortisol that is the primary stress hormone. Gradually the stressed patient suffers from insomnia, energy crashes, and the ability to learn and remember. They are symptoms of fast brain degeneration and warning bell for Alzheimer’s disease.
Stress also impacts the brain’s command over the autonomic nervous system that regulates breathing, digestion, heartbeat, organ function and more. In its communication with the body, the brain constantly receiving and sending information.
Areas of the Brain
Certain parts of the brain tend to do certain things. The frontal lobe determines our personality. It allows us to function appropriately within society, suppress impulses, such as violent tendencies, sexual desire, and other types of socially inacceptable behavior. It is also responsible for muscle activity and handwriting. Depression is considered frontal cortex impairment.
Temporal lobe is responsible for hearing, memory, emotional reaction.
Parietal lobe function is to perceive sensations, such as touch and pressure. If there are parietal lobe issues people may be lost easily, unable to recognize objects through touch.
Occipital lobe processes visual information. Visual hallucinations, difficulty in recognizing shapes and color are symptoms of occipital lobe impairment.
Cerebellum calibrates muscle coordination of movement. Cerebellum receives information from muscles and inner ear and send to other parts of the brain. The most common symptoms and signs of cerebellum impairment are dizziness and vertigo, nausea (car and sea sickness), poor balance.
Figure 1. Brain lobes
Figure 2. Left and Right brain sides
As it seen on figure 2, right side of brain is responsible for control of the left side of the body, and is the more artistic, philosophic and creative side of the brain
Left side of the brain is responsible for control of the right side of the body, and is the more reality based, scientific and logical side of the brain.
However, both hemispheres of the brain are tightly connected with each other constantly exchanging information. Still, individual personality, behavior, preferences depend on prevalence of one side of brain over other.
A healthy brain stimulates “rest and digest” activity through the parasympathetic nerve system while dampening sympathetic “fight or flight” activity.
To be healthy brain should receive enough oxygen, glucose, and stimulation (the ability to learn and adapt to changes).
Brain and glucose
Glucose is critical for the brain. Neurons use 20- 25% of the body's entire glucose load. The brain must have a steady supply of glucose at all times to function properly. Blood sugar instability disrupts all aspects of the physiology that are necessary for healthy brain function and lead to the neurodegeneration. Because neurons cannot store glucose, they depend on the bloodstream to deliver a constant supply of this precious fuel. The blood sugar is obtained from carbohydrates: the starches and sugars you eat in the form of grains and legumes, fruits and vegetables (the only animal foods containing a significant amount of carbohydrates are dairy products). Too much sugar or refined carbohydrates at one time, however, can actually deprive your brain of glucose – depleting its energy supply and compromising your brain's power to concentrate, remember, and learn. The mental activity requires a lot of energy.
Australian researches (2012) found that blood glucose at the high end of normal results in significant brain shrinking in regions of the brain (hippocampus and amygdala) involved in memory and other critical functions. Neuroscientists at Canberra studied 249 people in their early 60s. Each of them had a blood sugar level in a normal range. The brain was scanned at the beginning of the study and four years later. It was found significant brain shrinkage among those whose blood sugar was high but still below chronic exposure to high glucose levels and more likely to lead to poorer brain health.
Brain Circulation and Oxygen
Chronic cerebral hypoxia from poor vascular health and circulation precedes cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative disease. Healthy circulation is critical for the delivery of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to neurons. Blood carries all the nutrients, hormones, neurotransmitters, immune cells, and other chemical compounds that are crucial supplies for the brain. Most aging humans suffer from obstructions to cerebral blood flow that initiates a cascade of neuronal injuries. These injuries can manifest as memory loss, depression and cognitive dysfunction.
Poor circulation of the distal also suggests poor circulation to the brain. Pallor or cyanotic distal extremities or nail beds, cold feet and hands, cold tip of the nose are an indicator of poor circulation.
A metabolic syndrome that includes elevated glucose, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, low testosterone (in men), and hypertension associated with cognitive decline and dementia. Middle-age adults with metabolic syndrome showed 15% decrease in cerebral blood flow compare with a control group. They also had lower immediate memory.
Reduced blood flow of the brain and inadequate blood delivery to the capillary of the brain lead to hypoperfusion. Blood pressure plays a very important role in brain function. Low blood pressure impairs perfusion and limits transport of nutrients and oxygen to neurons. Hypoperfusion is evident in cognitively healthy persons at high risk for the development of Alzheimer’s due to family history.
High blood pressure can damage the cells of arteries' inner lining. That launches a cascade of events that make artery walls thick and stiff, a disease called arteriosclerosis. Fats from diet enter your bloodstream, pass through the damaged cells and collect to start atherosclerosis. These changes can affect arteries throughout the entire body blocking blood flow to organs. Hypertension destroys fragile capillaries creating cerebral perfusion deficits. Interruption to capillary blood flow has a potential to injure or kill neurons. High blood pressure can cause several problems, including:
Ischemic attack (TIA). Sometimes called a ministroke, a transient ischemic attack is a brief, temporary disruption of blood supply to your brain. It's often caused by atherosclerosis or a blood clot. A transient ischemic attack is often a warning that you're at risk of a full-blown stroke.
Stroke. A stroke occurs when part of your brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to die. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging and weakening your brain's blood vessels, causing them to narrow, rupture or leak. High blood pressure can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to your brain, blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke.
Neurons communicate with each other via neurotransmitters. Stress affects neurotransmitters chemistry, blood sugar, and immunity. The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance.
SEROTONIN is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It does not stimulate the brain. Adequate amounts of serotonin are necessary for a stable mood, appetite, body temperature, and to balance any excessive excitatory (stimulating) neurotransmitter firing in the brain. Serotonin regulates many other processes such as carbohydrate cravings, sleep cycle, emotion, pain control and appropriate digestion. Low serotonin levels make people lose the pleasure of life and are also associated with decreased immune system function.
GABA is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter. When GABA is out of range (high or low excretion values), it is likely that an excitatory neurotransmitter is firing too often in the brain, increase the feeling of anxiety, irritability, or panic. If GABA is lacking in certain parts of the brain, epilepsy results.
DOPAMINE is a special neurotransmitter because it is considered to be both excitatory and inhibitory. It is our main focus neurotransmitter. Dopamine is also responsible for our drive or desire to get things done – or motivation. If it feels good, dopamine neurons are probably involved. Dopamine helps with depression.
The severe mental illness schizophrenia has been shown to involve excessive amounts of dopamine in the frontal lobes. Too little dopamine in the motor areas of the brain is responsible for Parkinson's disease, which involves uncontrollable muscle tremors.
ACETYLCHOLINE. Acetylcholine has many functions: It is responsible for much of the stimulation of muscles, including the muscles of the gastrointestinal system. It is also found in sensory neurons and in the autonomic nervous system and has a part in scheduling dream sleep. The botulin derivative botox is used by many people to temporarily eliminate wrinkles can reduce the production of acetylcholine.
It was found a 90% loss of acetylcholine in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer's.
Protect your Brain
The ability to impact the neurodegenerative disease is determined by its early identification. The current conventional healthcare model offers little hope for brain degeneration that has progressed to end-stage diseases, such as dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Genetic and environmental factors play an important role in brain aging and function. Brain health highly depends on the quality of life. Brain nutrition, stress and blood sugar, oxygen and blood circulation imbalances must be addressed first.
How do you know if your brain isn’t working? See if some of these signs and symptoms of brain degeneration apply to you:
Lack of motivation, drive or passion
Tire easily working, reading, driving, etc.
Poor focus and concentration
Fatigue in response to certain foods or chemicals
Protect your brain, even mild brain injuries can change people’s whole life, behavior pattern, learning ability and emotions.
A highly functioning brain leads to a highly productive and appreciative life. Healthy brain helps you live longer and smarter.