JUNE 2018 LEDGER
13375 University Avenue, Suite 100, Clive, IA 50325|www.thelivewellclinic.com|515.279.9900
T hroughout my years in functional medicine, I’ve seen countless patients struggle with the fear of mental decline and witnessed several others actually succumb to dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other degenerative brain diseases. You could argue that there’s no other topic more frightening to us as humans, and rightly so. After all, so much of what’s going on between all those firing neurons is really our deepest self . The idea of our personality, our memory, and our most basic sense of identity dissolving with the passage of time is pretty harrowing. Luckily, there is hope for staving off this decline, often for good. I’m not a neurologist by any means, but through my experience studying the work of neurologists and other experts on the human mind, it’s become clear to me that everything we do in functional medicine eventually applies to the brain. Ironically enough, with my busy schedule, I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast this morning ... but bear with me and allow me to explain. Take inflammation, for instance. When we talk about inflammation, "leaky gut" often comes up in the conversation, a disorder in which the intestines become inflamed and allow toxins and undigested food particles to flood the bloodstream. But when we’re consuming the standard American diet, chock-full of gluten and other types of proteins our immune systems don’t know what to do with, it’s not just our intestines that become inflamed. We see the same breakdown all over the body, and in our brains in particular. For example, there’s a syndrome called gluten ataxia, during which those afflicted act almost as if they were drunk. Symptoms include an unstable gait, slurred speech, and poor fine motor control — all because the WHEN FUNCT IONAL MEDICINE AFFECTS THE BRAIN STAVING OFF DEGENERAT IVE DISEASE THROUGH PROACT IVE HEALTH
patient is regularly eating a lot of gluten. Over time, this process can cause permanent damage and accelerate mental decline.
Of course, there are numerous other factors that I harp on all the time with my patients that speed up brain degeneration as well. The overproduction of stress hormones can break down the memory response center in the brain, linking it with the onset of Alzheimer’s and similar diseases. If nutrition markers are off, all those deficiencies will cause cascading changes to the body, eventually catching up with the way your brain operates on a basic level. With functional medicine, we can address these issues long before the brain reaches the point of no return. I say it as often as possible: The key is to take a proactive approach to your health, including brain health. That means eating well, exercising well, and living well, and all that each of these entail. That way, our brain isn’t put under undue stress; it ages more slowly and we can live happy, healthy lives as ourselves long into our golden years, continuing to be present for those we love. Honestly, I can’t think of a better reason to take control of your own health. But enough harping on the benefits of functional medicine. Read on in this month’s issue to discover ways you can take your brain health into your own hands and transform your life from the inside out.
317-776-9942 515.2 9. 00 –Dr. Z a c Watki ns
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