Sixty percent of our immune system is located around our gut in what is a called a Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissues (GALT). When antigens, such as a bacteria, fungus, virus or food allergies or sensitivities are presented to GALT, our immune system reacts by producing inflammatory mediators which travel all around the body. They can create systemic inflammation. This inflammation can affect the glial cells, the glue-like cells in our brain that provide protection to the neurons.
Once glial cells are inflamed in a condition called gliosis, they release inflammatory cytokines that cause neuronal cell death or neuro-degeneration. This process has been identified in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, as well as ischemia, edema, and seizures.
To reduce inflammation, be sure to eat a diet abundant with vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, whole grains and fish. Avoid foods that can instigate an inflammatory response. If you notice a change in bowel movements, especially after travelling or eating a suspect food, you should consult your doctor. This is where a naturopathic physician can play a vital role. Your naturopath will be able to check the level of inflammation in the body, as well as run tests that will analyze gut health and food sensitivities.
7. Stimulate your brain – Keep those neurons firing!
Research has demonstrated that playing brain games, reading books and participating in activities such as bridge and chess, improve cognition and auditory processing speed. You will find many computerized brain games readily available online. Brain game apps are also available for hand-held electronic devices.
Balance exercises such as Yoga, stretching and using a rebounder (small trampoline) can positively stimulate your brain.
If balancing exercises are harder on one side, try spinning to that side.
For right side stimulation, spin clockwise.
For left side stimulation, spin counter clockwise.
If hearing is impaired in one ear, listen to music with that ear while blocking the good ear.
If left side – Listen to irregular and spontaneous music such as Jazz
If right side – listen to repetitive beats and sounds
If one of your eyes can’t appreciate or differentiate bright colors as in a bright art work, close your good eye and try to stimulate your opposite eye by looking at complex and bright art work.
8. Maintain adequate supply of Brain neurotransmitters
You have probably heard of Serotonin in association with depression, or Dopamine, often mentioned in relation to Parkinson’s disease. There are other neurotransmitters such as Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA) and Acetylcholine.
Research has demonstrated that massage can increase serotonin levels and meditative yoga can increase dopamine levels. As well, we now know that acupuncture, acupressure, manipulation therapies and olfactory stimulation such as aromatherapy can increase neurotransmitters and subsequently improve brain functioning.
It is important to note that these sensory-based therapies have a greater effect on the brain only when the brain has been adequately nourished with the nutrients mentioned.
If you follow the first 7 steps of this 8 step protocol, it is likely that your neurotransmitters will naturally balance out; however, people sometimes need a boost to increase the availability of neurotransmitters in the brain.