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Dr. Corinne: Everything You Need to Know About Your Brain and How to Power It Up: Part 1
Dr. Corinne Weaver : Jul 12, 2018 : DrCorinneWeaver.com
Nutrition is a huge part of any health regime, including brain health. Typically, eating a well-balanced diet which includes a high intake of fruit and vegetables and low in fat and sugar can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
First, let's look at the basics of the human brain and then I'll give you some strategies to help you power up your brain.
The brain is an organ that acts as the main control center of our bodies. This complex organ controls:
- The Senses
- Body Movement
The human brain weighs approximately three pounds, making up about 2% of our body weight. Within the last 10 years, we have begun to understand more about the brain then past centuries combined. The brain can be divided into three sections including the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain.
Sections of the Brain
These three sections of the brain can house different parts:
FOREBRAIN - Contains the largest and most developed part of the human brain add houses the cerebrum.
MIDBRAIN- Houses the uppermost part of the brainstem.
HINDBRAIN- Contains the upper part of the spinal cord, the brain stem, and a tissue called the cerebellum.
Parts of the Brain
The three primary parts of the brain are the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem:
CEREBRUM - The cerebrum is divided into four lobes: frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital. The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain and is composed of right and left hemispheres.
BRAINSTEM - The brainstem includes the midbrain, pons, and medulla.
CEREBELLUM - The cerebellum is located under the cerebrum. Between the cerebrum and brainstem lie the thalamus and hypothalamus. The cerebral cortex coats the surface of the cerebrum and cerebellum.
Parts and Sections of the Brain
Now, putting the sections and the parts together, we have:
- The frontal lobe holds memories which allow you to plan, imagine, and think
- The parietal lobe translates the senses (touch, vision, hearing, as well as speech, reasoning, emotions) and is important for spatial orientation and navigation
- The temporal lobe processes sound and language and houses the hippocampus and amygdala, which play roles in memory and emotion, respectively.
- The occipital lobe is responsible for visual processing, it allows you to recognize friends and read books.
- The brainstem relays information between the brain and the rest of the body.
- Automatic functions such as breathing, heart rate, and body temperature are controlled in the brainstem.
NOTE: If you have read any of my past articles, then you know I love the brainstem the most because of breathing!
- The cerebellum coordinate muscle movements, and motor control to maintain posture, and balance.
Glands related to the brain
The thalamus relays sensory and motor signals to the cortex and is involved in regulating consciousness, sleep, and alertness.
The hypothalamus connects the nervous system to the endocrine system, where hormones are produced via the pituitary gland.
The cerebral cortex is where most information is actually processed in the brain.
Left/Right Brain Theory
The human brain is divided into the left and right hemispheres connected by a bundle of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum.
Theories surrounding left-right brain dominance state that each side controls different thinking styles. The left-right brain theory originated by Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry in 1981. Each side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body, for example, the left-brain controls all the muscles on the right side of the body, and vice versa.
THE LEFT BRAIN
Left brain thinkers are said to be more logical, analytical, and objective (which is definitely my husband!!)
Traits of the left brain include:
-- Critical thinking
THE RIGHT BRAIN
Right brain thinkers are said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective (which is more me). Since my husband is more left-brained and I am more right-brained, we actually make a fantastic team!
Traits of the right brain include:
-- Facial recognition
-- Emotion expression
Why is brain health so important?
A healthy brain functions quickly and automatically. One in 5 people in the US suffers from neurological disorders, which are diseases of the brain, spine, and nerves connecting them.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders report the following as common disorders:
- Neurogenetic diseases (such as Huntington's disease and muscular dystrophy)
- Developmental disorders (such as cerebral palsy)
- Degenerative diseases of adult life (such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease)
- Metabolic diseases (such as Gaucher's disease)
- Cerebrovascular diseases (such as stroke and vascular dementia)
- Trauma (such as spinal cord and head injury)
- Convulsive disorders (such as epilepsy)
- Infectious diseases (such as AIDS dementia)
- Brain tumors
Let's take a deeper look into a few neurological disorders.
Dementia is considered a cerebrovascular disease but is not a specific disease. It is a general term to describe a decline in mental ability. Dementia describes a wide range of symptoms. For a condition to be considered dementia at least two of the following must be significantly impaired:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
Dementia is caused by brain cell damage which impairs communication in the brain and may cause short-term memory loss. Many forms of dementia are progressive, meaning symptoms worsen as time goes by. While there is no cure for dementia, some treatment options are available. A number of prevention strategies have been identified as helpful for reducing risk.
Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease, and the most common form of dementia, causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Over 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer's, one in 10 people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer's. Early onset Alzheimer's affects approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65. Minor changes in the brain occur long before symptoms show.
- Overconsumption of sugar are at the heart of the Alzheimer's epidemic
- Risk of Alzheimer's is doubled in type 2 diabetics (in fact Type 3 Diabetes is considered Alzheimer's)
- Heart disease also increases your risk of dementia, as arterial stiffness is associated with the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque in your brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease
A stroke is considered an attack on the brain. Stroke occurs by obstruction of blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die from lack of oxygen. Depending on where in the brain a stroke happens will determine effects. Because one side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body, different functions may be impaired.
Stroke occurring on the right side may lead to:
- Paralysis on the left side of the body
- Vision problems
- Quick, inquisitive behavioral style
- Memory loss
Stroke occurring on the left side may lead to:
- Paralysis on the right side of the body
- Speech/language problems
- Slow, cautious behavior style
- Memory loss
- 800,000 new or recurring strokes happen annually
- Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
- Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S.
Strategies for Brain Health
Nutrition is a huge part of any health regime, including brain health. Typically, eating a well-balanced diet which includes a high intake of fruit and vegetables and low in fat and sugar can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Diets such as the Mediterranean may contribute to risk reduction. The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy diet which may also help protect the brain, and incorporates different principles of healthy eating that are typically found in the areas bordering the Mediterranean Sea. You can follow this diet by: (Image via Wikispaces)
- Providing local and organic produce to reduce intake of pesticides.
- Insuring that your child is drinking plenty of water to remove toxins and not sugary beverages.
- Avoiding heavily processed foods, trans fats, high sugar, and artificial sweeteners.
- Focusing on fruit, vegetables, nuts, and grains
- Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil
- Reducing red meat intake
- Using herbs to flavor food rather than salt
- Eating fish at least twice a week, one white fish such as cod or haddock and one fatty fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, sardines.
MAINTAINING A TOXIN-FREE ENVIRONMENT
- Utilize natural cleaners around the home.
- Avoid fabrics treated with flame retardants.
- Look for natural fiber furniture.
AVOIDING SKIN IRRITANTS
- Look for natural sunscreens to avoid exposure to chemicals
- Try cloth diapers to avoid exposure to chemicals used in disposable diapers to keep wetness away
HAVING GOOD DENTISTRY
- Look for a holistic dentist
- Avoid overuse of fluoride
- Avoid mercury containing fillings
MAINTAINING HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT
- Encourage frequent physical activities
- Incorporate Brain Gym exercises
- Limit screen time (TV, computers, etc.)
There are a number of lifestyle habits you can adopt to maintain brain health. They can be broken down into four categories:
- physical health and exercise
- diet and nutrition
- cognitive activity
- social engagement
These categories have been shown to reliably help keep your body and brain healthy to potentially reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Research has found combining activities of each category has more of an impact in maintaining or improving brain health than any single activity.
We'll discuss ways to incorporate these categories into your lifestyle in my next article. Meanwhile if you want more healthy tips you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/drcorinneweaver. Like and comment on my channel so I will know what tips and topics you want to know about. I am forming a community of people who want to take action in their own health with my social media channels and I want to know what health topics you want to hear.
I hope my column speaks to you and you can wake up each morning with a purpose. What I do every day is a calling, and I give God the glory for allowing his gifts to work through me. I do believe in miracles, because I get to see them every day! For more information sign up for my closed Facebook group #NoMoreMeds-Community for more healthy tips.
Dr. Corinne Weaver is a compassionate upper cervical chiropractor, educator, motivational speaker, mother of three, and internationally bestselling author. In 2004, she founded the Upper Cervical Wellness Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Over the last 13 years, she has helped thousands of clients restore their brain to-body function. When she was 10 years old, she lost her own health as the result of a bike accident that led to having asthma and allergy issues that she thought she would always have to endure. Then, after her first upper cervical adjustment at age 21, her health began to improve thanks to upper cervical care and natural herbal remedies. This enabled her to create a drug-free wellness lifestyle for herself and her family, and she also enthusiastically discovered her calling to help children heal naturally.
Dr. Weaver was named one of Charlotte Magazine's "Top Doctors" in 2016 and is now a number-one internationally bestselling author to two books: Learning How to Breathe and No More Meds.
Upper Cervical Wellness Center is known for finding the root cause of health concerns through lifestyle changes, diagnostic testing, nutraceutical supplementation, and correction of subluxation (as opposed to just medicating the symptoms). The practice offers cutting-edge technological care at its state-of-the-art facility, including laser-aligned upper cervical X-rays, bioimpedance analysis (measures body composition), digital thermography (locates thermal abnormalities characterized by skin inflammation), and complete nutritional blood analysis, which is focused on disease prevention.
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