Did you know that brain disorders are on the rise? More than 60% of adults and more than 20% of kids have some type of brain disorder.
9% of kids ages 8-15 will be diagnosed with ADHD and 1 out of every 166 kids will be diagnosed with Autism (that’s an 11 fold increase just in the last decade)! 5-10% of kids will be diagnosed with a learning disability.
On top of all of this, 1 in 3 Americans struggle with Depression and 1 of every 6 Americans take some type of psychotropic medication. These statistics are staggering to me, but not surprising!
When you consider the underlying causes of brain disorders it’s understandable how these numbers continue to rise. Unfortunately our modern day lifestyles are often to blame.
I recently watched the Broken Brain docu-series by Dr. Mark Hyman and wanted to take a moment to share the highlights here. In the series he explores the many reasons for these rising numbers of brain disorders plus more importantly what we can do about it. He interviews many different experts in the field of brain health and the conclusions are as I expected.
More and more brains are “breaking” due in large part to poor diets, bodies burdened with toxic overload, and gut microbiomes that are imbalanced and suffering. All of these pieces lead to an inflamed and unhappy brain!
BUT the good news, make that the amazing news, is that there is A LOT we can do to resolve inflammation in the brain and restore function. This is true across the board, from depression, anxiety, and ADHD to Autism, MS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Hyman wraps up the docu-series with his “7 Steps To An UltraMind”. I was super pleased to see that they mirror the strategies I teach; a return to Real Food & Rustic Strategies! Let’s take a look at how you can start to heal your broken brain.
Foods that nourish the brain are anti-inflammatory and full of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. When you choose foods that feed the brain plus the hormones and neurotransmitters the brain produces, you will immediately begin to see a difference. Click on the links above to see a list of the exact foods you want to be focusing on in your diet. Foods rich in healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, and minerals like magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Daily exercise is critical for a healthy brain. The increased oxygenation and blood flow to the brain along with the stress reducing properties of exercise combine to support an optimally functioning brain. High-intensity exercise has actually been shown to stimulate the production of new brain cells.
Both the duration and the quality of your sleep is important to the health of your brain. Chronically sleep deprived people are more irritable, depressed, have shorter attention spans, and experience more difficulty processing ideas and making decisions. The goal is to get 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night. If that is not currently happening for you, click here to get more ideas about how you can start getting better sleep.
I think we’ve all experienced at one time or another how stress influences both are mood and our ability to think clearly. Finding ways to decrease your level of stress when possible and learning to manage the stress you can’t avoid, goes a long way to both protecting and healing the brain. Click here to learn more about how to live mindfully with stress and here to learn how a daily gratitude practice can actually begin to re-shape the brain.
We live in a very toxic world and often despite our best intentions our detoxification pathways become sluggish and burdened with the sheer volume of toxins we’re exposed to on a daily basis. The danger, especially with pesticides and heavy metals, is that these compounds build up in the body and harm the brain and nervous system. Do what you can to minimize your exposure to toxins while supporting your detoxification pathways. Read more about how to do that here.
The quality, quantity, and variety of bacteria in your gut has an incredible impact on your brain. When you support healthy gut function this directly improves the health and functioning of your brain. Learn more about the Gut-Brain connection here and what steps you can take to optimize this relationship.
Finally, the old saying “use it or lose it” could not be more relevant than when it comes to the brain. Keeping the brain sharp, agile, and flexible enhances with mental stimulation; especially as we age. One of the best ways to do this is by continuing to learn new things; a new language, or how to play an instrument for example.
Take Home Message
The most empowering take home message to me is that there is A LOT we can do to improve both the health and functioning of our brain. Even in scenarios that we traditionally thought could not be changed (Autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc) we now know that this is not true. Often by addressing underlying nutritional deficiencies or toxic metal burdens or microbiome imbalances we can effect change! We can heal our broken brains!