Brain Health 101
What is your greatest personal resource? Maybe you think it's your winning smile, pleasant personality, quick wit or intellect. What makes each one of these possible is healthy balanced brain function. It is a healthy brain that allows a one-year-old to point out objects of delight and smile, or a parent to find delight in the simple things their child does. It also allows the grand parent to remember and celebrate the grand child's birthday. It is having balanced brain function that allows us to be a fully integrated member of society and a happy individual.
Furthermore it is the human brain, especially those of the next generation that may hold the answer to our most challenging social and environmental problems. What would happen to our society or us as individuals if we were to allow this precious resource to become metabolically broken and even degenerate? Our brain is the most complex and most misunderstood organ of our body! This is especially true in regards to keeping the brain functioning optimally. When you damage the brain you damage the mind, and the mind is the source for all the magnificent things you do in your life.
Treating the Brain as the Organ It Is
We realize that the health of any organ, such as the liver, is maintained by proper diet, necessary nutrients and that it can be harmed by toxins such as environmental chemicals and alcohol. The brain is actually one of the most metabolically active organs in the body and therefore it is more readily damaged by any of these above mentioned factors. At a mere 3 pounds it is only 2% of the total body weight, but utilizes more than 20% of the oxygen and at least 25% of the available calories one consumes. To perform all its complex functions, like any organ, the brain needs its cells to be maintained in optimum health.
The brain is composed of 100 billion neurons with more synapses to each other than there are stars in the universe, all contained within the walls of the cranium. For an infant to develop properly or a child to behave normally in a social setting, they must have a magnificent mind that comes from balanced brain function. For you to realize all your dreams and health goals, to overcome whatever is holding you back, you need to create and maintain healthy brain function.
Imagine the world's largest most talented orchestra of 100 billion members playing very complex but harmonious music all at once. What if some members of this orchestra were sick or ran out of energy, you can imagine the music would become stressed and disharmonious. The orchestra within your patient's cranium is a ravenous group demanding more energy and nutrients than any other organ. This is especially true in the rapidly developing brain of the fetus and infant.
Our National Epidemic of Broken Brains
What if as a society we were not maintaining optimal brain health, what if we were starving our brains, would that look like? Today the most common brain health disorder in children is ADHD. In some US cities, the incidence of ADHD has reached an astounding rate of 10 to 15% of school-age children. Autism was relatively rare in the US before 1990, after which its prevalence skyrocketed by three to five times, a rate increase that experts now agree cannot be explained by genetics or improved diagnosis. According to a CDC governmental report published February 8, 2007, about 1 child in 150 develops autism or a related disorder like Asperger's syndrome by the age of eight. Whereas the autistic rate for children of Amish people around Middlefield Ohio is only 1 out of 15,000 births. Nearly 45% of the US population suffers from some form mood disorder with about 30% of them affected by depression and 15% with anxiety syndromes.
Today the most feared disease is no longer cancer, but Alzheimer's disease and for good reason, it is a devastating disorder that steals your memories and personality. Alzheimer's disease is now the number one neurodegenerative disorder in the US today, every 72 seconds someone develops this disorder . Parkinson's disease is now the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the US today. The majority of Parkinson cases is not inherited, but instead is now related to environmental factors. Parkinson's disease is now increasing by more than 50,000 new cases each year in the US.
But what about the myofascial pain that you experience on a recurrent basis? A recent study utilizing functional MRI of the brain found dysfunction in 5 pain-related areas of the brain in chronic low back pain patients-but not in healthy controls . Therefore your chronic low back patient is not just in your back, but actually in the brain itself. In the future I will explore other research that shows the more brain inflammation present, the more likely an individual is to develop recurring muscle and joint pain problems and even fibromyalgia
What is the cause of these alarming statistics and what can you do to protect yourself and your family? This will be the subject matter of a series of articles written to assist you in bringing about real healing by keeping your brain healthy and balanced with the latest research in brain nutrition.
About Dr. Greg Fors
Dr. Greg Fors, D.C. is a Board-certified Neurologist (IBCN), certified in Applied Herbal Sciences (NWHSU) and acupuncture. As the clinic director of the Pain and Brain Healing Center in Blaine Minnesota he specializes in a functional medicine approach to fibromyalgia, fatigue, brain fog, digestive disorders, depression and anxiety. He is a sought after international lecturer for various post-graduate departments and state associations. Dr. Fors is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “Why We Hurt” available through booksellers everywhere.
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