Holidays and Family

Holidays for some are a time of excitement and joy, participating in traditions to reinforce the connection with your extended family. Some families are not so lucky to have the joy and love that comes from respecting all family members. This hit me very personally in my early forties when I went through a divorce and my family told me they could not help me. They lived in California, and I lived in Florida with my daughter. That taught me to be kind to all people and make my friends my family. Afterall, what was the old song by Stephen Stills, “Love the one you are with”. I learned in my forties, that my biological family may not respect or recognize my struggles, but I had a whole community of neighbors, and friends of all ages, who became a family for my daughter and myself. This group encouraged me to study and go back to school where I started to treat people with nutritional problems in 2002, with my master’s degree in counseling and my Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.

Synapses in the brain connecting to show the relationship between the brain and how that impacts weight loss.

Brain Health and Progressive Neurological Disease

I have had thousands of people walk through my office door or enter my virtual office now that Telehealth is a recognized therapy platform. My heart has gone out to many, but one man really stood out. He had a degenerative neurological disease, that made him forget how to swallow. The common denominator was obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. At age 61, I was seeing this very frail man, for his tube feeding. These neurological diseases can have a genetic root cause; however, our lifestyle impacts our brains as well.

This year I lost my sister at age 70 and my brother aged 69, tells me that he has Parkinson’s Disease. It is advanced. My brother, busy with his life, has not talked to me in 40 years, more really. He had no idea who his little sister was or what she did for people. My G-d, all of us baby boomers are at risk. We rode bikes without helmets, we went skiing without helmets, and my brother played football as a high schooler, and suffered many concussions. We used to think that we could not regenerate brain tissue. We now know that is not true. Our brain can heal. And so, I am sharing with you what I, would have done for my brother, had he known what his little sister did for her profession:

Reduce Insulin Resistance: If you have high fasting insulin, high triglycerides, and high A1C levels, not only is your body inflamed, but your brain is also. Limit processed foods and limit alcohol and carbohydrates to decrease inflammation. Find out your body composition and focus on eating to support your muscle mass.

Take anti-oxidants: You can improve the mitochondria, which is the powerhouse of every cell and promotes energy production. 

  • Vitamin E: alpha-tocopherols- this supplement delayed symptoms of the progressive neurological disease.
  • B-Vitamins (especially folic acid, B6, and B12): As you age, you cannot absorb B-12 as readily, therefore take a shot or take a sublingual supplement.
  • Zinc: At low doses, it has a neuroprotective effect. But you cannot take zinc daily because it competes with the absorption of iron and copper. Food sources of zinc include oysters, beef, breakfast cereals that have been fortified with zinc and pumpkin seeds
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC): This is an antioxidant precursor to glutathione that helps your body to modulate dopamine in your system and neurons. One of the reasons, people get Parkinson’s is because of decreased dopamine utilization. Benefits have been seen with 600 mg of NAC supplementation. (Dean, Olivia, PhD et al; J Psychiatry Neurosci 2011;36(2))

If you take a Statin for Cholesterol: Make sure you take Coenzyme Q10. This helps to prevent your muscles from breaking down. As you age, you need to have muscle strength.

Move: Exercise daily, the American Family Medicine Association recommends 150 minutes (about 2 and a half hours) of exercise each week. That can be 30 minutes 5 days a week, or 20 minutes every day.

Do not Diet: Remember that your brain needs ~ 600 Calories per day just to run!

Have healthy relationships: Focus on people who do want to be around you and who appreciate their relationship with you.

Have a belief system that promotes harmony and peace: Remember the song from The Youngbloods in 1967;
“Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now”

If you are concerned about how your lifestyle and food intake are impacting your body and brain. Please call Nutegra Mental Health and Nutrition, Inc. at 941-787-3525. We have counselors, who can help you with making changes to preserve your functioning and refer you to neurologists and other health care providers that you may need. Do not ignore warning signs. Get help today.