Dr Wendi's Health

Category Archives: Brain

Essential fatty acids

Inflammation is the underlying cause of all the chronic conditions we have today and that includes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases like arthritis, MS, Crohn’s, and celiac, neurological issues like Alzheimer’s, dementia, mood disorders, and anxiety.  Inflammation is also the cause of the aches and pains associated with getting older, slow recovery of muscles from workouts, slow tissue repair, dermatitis, fasciitis, tendonitis, any “itis” is inflammation.  If you have any inflammatory conditions then you will want to continue reading. Fats play a major role in our health and disease processes.  Fat is an essential component of our diet and should contribute anywhere from 10 – 30% of our total daily calorie intake.  But which fats are healthy and which ones contribute to disease? Fats all have different compositions of fatty acids.  I made a chart that shows the breakdown of each type of fat and then sorted them into…

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time is money, money soothes, sleep

Sleep is essential for life.  I think the most important factors for a healthy body are eating (healthy whole food), sleeping and exercise.  Poor sleep quality and duration are associated with decreased immune function, increased stress hormones (that suppress the immune system), mood disorders, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. In a normal night, we go through about 4-6 cycles of sleep and each stage contains varying amounts of light sleep, deep, sleep and REM sleep. Deep sleep is important for regeneration of the body, including the immune system, and REM sleep is important for regeneration of the brain. Stages of sleep Awake – stage 0 Light sleep – stage 1 and 2 We typically spend around 45-55% of the night in light sleep EEG shows non-REM alpha and theta brain waves Blood pressure, body temperature, breathing, and heart rate start to decrease Muscles relax and you may jerk awake…

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GABA and anxiety

GABA stands for Gamma Amino butyric acid.  GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases the stimulatory effects of excitatory neurotransmitters.  Without inhibition, our brain would be constantly over-stimulated and that would feel like anxiety and to some extremes, panic.  GABA is the most calming neurotransmitter we have.  Glutamate is one of the primary stimulating neurotransmitters in our brain that helps us to think, problem-solve, learn, and remember.  It is ideal to have a balance between GABA and glutamate so that we can think and problem-solve but also remain calm. How are GABA and glutamate produced? Glutamate is made from an amino acid called glutamine.  Glutamine is found in many plant and animal foods and should be easily acquired in a healthy diet.  Glutamate production is increased when we have stress so that we can think and problem-solve, and under normal conditions, an increase in glutamate should stimulate an increase in…

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tea theanine

After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.  It contains a unique amino acid called L-theanine that has several beneficial effects on our brain because it increases the levels of some hormones and neurotransmitters that make us feel good. Theanine increases molecules that affect mood Serotonin – makes us feel calm and content.  Low serotonin levels are highly linked with depression. Most of the serotonin we produce is made in the digestive system when we eat, this is why we feel so good and content after eating.  The serotonin produced in the digestive tract travels through the blood to the brain and tells the brain we feel good.  This is a survival benefit because we associate eating and acquiring nutrients with feeling good….also, it may be one reason why some people use food for comfort.  Perhaps tea can help reduce the need for comfort food because…

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exercise

Many things can impact our hormones and things can get a little out of wack if we have a lot of stress, don’t get enough sleep, then drink more caffeine than we need, maybe fighting a cold or flu, and then perhaps some bad food choices because that is easier than cooking and junk food gets rid of stress, right?? Or does eating crap cause stress?  Then mood and productivity go out the window and we feel overwhelmed so then we nap and then can’t sleep at night.  How do we get it all back on track? For the most part it boils down to how we are impacting our hormones.  Hormones affect how we function and how we feel……how we feel affects our mood and energy, which then affects our lifestyle choices that affect our hormone production.  It is all a cycle and we have to choose a place…

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lose weight eat less

What kind of diet works best? Low fat diet? Low carb diet? Do total calories matter? The most popular theory right now is that carbs increase weight gain because carbs stimulate insulin, which is a hormone that causes our liver to convert carbs into fat, so reducing carbs will help you lose weight. But, there are populations of people that eat high carb diets and are still lean and not over weight, example, Japanese populations eat a lot of rice, which is a refined carbohydrate, it is high on the glycemic index, yet these populations are not over weight. Likewise, there are populations that eat high fat diets that are lean as well. People lose weight on low carb AND low fat diets.  Why? Because they are eating overall fewer calories AND they are cutting out the worst foods that are high in calories, low in nutrients, and highly rewarding….which are foods…

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love oxytocin

What hormone causes you to feel love, empathy, compassion, and trust, makes you feel bonded to your loved ones (including pets), reduces feelings of fear and stress, increases honesty, causes women to deliver babies, and causes men and women to have orgasms? This hormone is the main reason why animals, like humans live in cooperative groups.  Body language, compassion, social recognition, and emotional connections are essential for survival in social animals. It also happens to help us live longer, and….this hormone makes us feel really good!! This hormone is oxytocin We often separate our cognitive/thinking brain functions from our emotional/feeling brain functions but feelings are as physiological as thinking, regulating body temperature, or digesting food.  We feel things because of the levels and combinations of hormones and neurotransmitters produced by our brain and endocrine system. When we have higher levels of hormones like oxytocin and serotonin then we feel good.…

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has several important functions in our body.  Getting into the winter months, it may be time to think about adding a vitamin D supplement.  Studies show that approximately 40-50% of North Americans and about 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D is primarily made in the stratum basale layer of our skin when we are exposed to UVB sunlight (below I made a diagram of the steps involved in its production). We can get some from consuming liver, eggs, oily fish, mushrooms, and fortified milk but food is only a minor source compared to sun exposure or supplementation. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in our liver so there is a supply to draw on for a period of time.  If you had about 10-20 minutes of sun exposure a few days per week during the summer, you likely have…

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Stress has a significant impact on how our body functions.  Short term stress can actually be beneficial, for example, exercise is interpreted by the body as acute stress, we produce cortisol and epinephrine (adrenalin) and increase blood sugar, heart rate, and blood pressure.  Then when the acute stress is over, the body regenerates cells and repairs muscle and restores glycogen; making the body stronger and better able to deal with the next acute stress. But what happens if we have increased cortisol all the time? In my previous post I explained all of the details about what cortisol does in the body but here is a quick list of some key things that happen when we have excessive amounts of cortisol.  The effects are dependent on the dose, so the higher the stress level, the more cortisol produced and the stronger the effects will be.  Cortisol is a hormone that…

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Lion's Mane mushroom

Lion’s Mane is a type of mushroom that has been shown to have some extraordinary health benefits.  It is Hericium erinaceus, also known as Yamabushitake, but most commonly called Lion’s mane.  A review article published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2015 reviewed 139 primary research papers that describe the myriad of chemical compounds and their exceptional bioactive effects and lack of toxicity in rodents and humans. Most of this research is still in the stage of cell culture and animal studies but it looks extremely promising for humans and even for pets.  Lion’s Mane contains around 70 different metabolites that can be divided into 5 categories of organic compounds including erinacines (have neuroprotective properties), aromatic compounds, sterols (anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties), alkaloids, and lactones. It has been shown to be beneficial for the following by either eating the mushroom fruiting bodies, consuming dried mushroom ground into…

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10/17

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