cascade ChiropracticOur Blog
Brain health is a hot topic lately. We have 72 million Baby Boomers in the United States currently, many of them aging more rapidly than they would like. It is anticipated that there will be fewer than 20 million Baby Boomers by mid century. Herein lies the challenge; there are long term care centers popping up on nearly every corner around the country to take care of this aging population, not because they are sick, but because their brains don’t work anymore!!
So why are dementia, Alzheimers, stroke and other forms of brain disorders on the rise?
Let’s explore some of those questions so that we can avoid being a statistic in this very disturbing trend.
The brain is one of the first things to develop when we are conceived, and it is the most important organ. The nervous system, of which the brain is a large part, controls and coordinates all the functions of the body. The brain consists of several parts, the gray matter, the cerebellum, the temporal lobes, the parietal and frontal lobe, the hypothalamus and pituitary that control the hormonal system, and all the other very important components. It cannot function well without the proper nutrients. You may know that from our earliest development, we are dependent on certain vitamins and minerals, fats and nutrients to have a healthy functioning brain. Without folic acid for example our neural canal does not form correctly and we might get spina bifida, without enough good fats they have determined that we will have a smaller brain than we should. When certain nutrients are deficient like protein, we don’t make the neurotransmitters or the chemicals that run the brain, resulting in conditions like depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, and more.
The brain is like a very complicated switch board. Information goes both ways, incoming information from the body is processed and instructions regarding that information goes out to the body in response to either correct a problem or make a change. For example, lets say that you come up to a hot stove, as you get nearer the temperature is hotter and hotter.
How does the brain respond?
- It might make your blood vessels larger to increase the ability of the body to cool off.
- It might make your sweat glands activate.
- It might cause you to move away from the heat.
- All this happens without your conscious thought, thankfully!
Many of our automatic processes are controlled by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). For example, you have been exposed to some chemicals and need to process some trash out of the bloodstream, its probably a good thing that we don’t have to tell the liver and kidneys to do their job or keep track of those processes.
The brain is intricately involved in many of our conscious and unconscious bodily functions. If however we have some damage or faulty nerve transmissions we need to go about figuring out the problem and providing support in a non invasive way if at all possible. Damage to the brain can occur due to many things. Our modern food supply is nutrient deficient due to processing and our desire to create a longer shelf life. The chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis in our water, air, food, the genetically modified food we eat, and the toxins in our environment, and body care products can all contribute to the body’s inability to remove trash and maintain healthy cell function.
I recently read a book about early brain surgery and since they didn’t know that certain parts of the brain were connected to certain activities, they used the early brain damaged patients as guinee pigs so to speak. They would take out parts of the brain, and wait to see what happened. Then they could document the changes and use that information for future purposes (The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean). Fortunately for us, that was a long time ago and we now have the modern conveniences of MRIs, CT scans and PET scans. They can determine exactly where the lesion is and deal with it as we choose. Some of the conditions that can adversely affect the brain are discovered on scans, some on bloodwork, but many, to be honest, are discovered by the family members or patients themselves. We are the ones who find little differences that stick out on a day to day basis. The earlier we handle these issues the better. They tend to be progressive and nutrition has been shown to be a huge part of repair.
SOME OF THE MOST COMMON CONDITIONS THAT CAN AFFECT THE BRAIN ARE:
- Alzheimers (AD)
- Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)
- High Blood Pressure (HBP)
- Medication Side Effects
You may know someone with one or more of these conditions, I have helped many patients with these conditions, but not without their cooperation. You see, these and many other health concerns are often self-inflicted. I know that seems weird, who would give themselves a stroke or T2D? No one in their right mind, right?
Dr. Suzanne DeLaMonte from the Alpert Medical School at Brown University is a Neuropathologist, she states that Alzheimers and other forms of dementia are a result of diabetes of the brain. For some of you this is a very real issue since one in three adults today has pre-diabetes or is a diabetic. Pre-diabetes is having a Hemoglobin A1C of 5.7 or higher and diabetes is having a Hemoglobin A1C level of 6.1 or higher, depending on the lab and part of the country you live in. Ideally your 3 month average of blood sugar should be between 4.1 and 5.6.
So how does high blood sugar affect the brain long term? The pancreas makes insulin, insulin takes sugar out of the blood stream, takes it into the cells and makes energy. If we abuse sugar, or things that turn into sugar, then the pancreas overproduces insulin and the insulin receptors get down-regulated, leaving the blood sugar to get higher and higher. When blood sugar is elevated, the red blood cells (RBC’s) get glycated, or sugar coated, like an M&M. The sugar coating process is like having razor wire on your RBCs and they can cause damage when they travel down the tiny capillaries. This micro-circulation damage can affect our kidneys, cardiovascular system, eyes and brain. Recent studies have shown that in addition to the pancreas, the brain also makes insulin, that shows just how important insulin is to the brain!
In Alzheimers, the parts of the brain that are damaged by lack of insulin are the parts that deal with memory and personality. This is why its so difficult for family members taking care of a loved one with this condition. Insulin is very important for making chemicals known as neurotransmitters, these chemicals allow the different parts of the brain to communicate with each other.
So are Type 2 Diabetics more likely to get Alzheimers? YES, twice as likely. It does not mean that all people with T2D will get Alzheimers, or that all people with Alzheimers have T2D, but there is a lot of overlap. We need to reduce our dietary exposure to sugar, excess fruit, and processed grains, as all of these things create an insulin response and can lead to higher blood sugar levels and an elevated Hemoglobin A1C. Prevention is so important when it comes to the brain.
While, there are some who say that Alzheimers is a genetic issue, the ability of humans to change their genes takes generations and Alzheimers has been increasing in both frequency and severity over the past 30 years, so there must be an epi-genetic reason for the upsurge. Epigenetics is another word for environmental. One popular environmental cause has been linked to nitrates. Nitrates are in our fertilizers, preservatives in and on our food, and they are added to meats to retain color and flavor. They are added to foods that travel a long distance from Chile, Mexico and across the country without spoiling. Fish, cheese, hot dogs, ground beef, smoked meats like bacon, smoked turkey and ham, as well as beer and tobacco may have nitrates or nitrosamines in them. You can find alternative without nitrates and nitrites, and we should all strive to avoid them whenever possible. Recent research has shown that very low limited exposure to nitrosamines found in food can cause Alzheimers type brain degeneration, dementia, diabetes, fatty liver disease and obesity.
HOW CAN WE REDUCE OUR RISK?
Avoid exposure whenever possible. Look for sodium nitrite on food labels. Avoid processed foods, eat organically grown food whenever possible, and if that is not possible, at least eat locally grown food. Get educated about the harmful effects of chemicals in our food chain and educate children in your life and provide healthy choices. By packing a healthy lunch the night before work or school, you can avoid the processed or fast food options.
FOOD SUBSTITUTIONS THAT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
- Bananas ——————–Berries
- Soda ————————Water / Iced Tea
- Potatoes ——————–Sweet Potatoes
- Corn ————————Quinoa or Brown / Wild Rice
- Peanuts ———————Any Other Nut
- Fruit juice ——————Water / Tea
- Wheat ———————–Quinoa / Brown Rice / Oats
- Refined Sugar—————Stevia / Monkfruit / Raw Honey
What if you’re already eating a great diet, you’ve made that jump, and you need to do some repairs for damage done in your prior years? Here is a micro-circulation support protocol you can add to your daily food prep.
MICRO-CURCULATION SUPPORT PROTOCOL FOR MEAL PREP
- Garlic: Preferably crushed raw, you can add it to salad dressing, eggs, veggies, meat etc.
- Ginger: In water, a smoothie, or just chew it.
- Turmeric: A good quality, concentrated, bioavailable product like MediHerb’s turmeric with fenugreek.
- Berries: 3 oz. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries per day.
- Dark Chocolate: At least 70% cacao, about 1 ounce per day is medicinal!
- Beets: Roasted or juiced. If boiled, drink the water, it’s where all the nutrients are.
Exercise such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, strength exercises, biking and walking all contribute to maintaining a healthier blood sugar level and a happier brain.
STANDARD PROCESS & MEDIHERB BRAIN SUPPORT PRODUCTS
- Tuna Omega 3 Oil
- Ginkgo Forte
- Turmeric Forte
- OPC Synergy
If you or a loved one is having brain or memory issues, call our office to find out if dietary changes and some of these products might be the first step towards a healthier life!
Dr. Virginia S. Irby D.C.,DABCO, ACN
2371 Iron Point Rd. Ste. 130
Folsom, CA 95630
I see lots of children in my practice. And although many people question the need for children to receive care unless they are sick, I believe that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as they said in the old days.
Here are some examples of the children I have seen recently…
- A 9 year old girl who presents slightly overweight, with her skin darkened around her neck and armpits. She craves sweets and her MD has suggested she may be pre-diabetic.
- A 7 year old boy presents with anxiety about going to school and gets tummy aches on the way to the point where mom has to turn around and go home. He has missed 50- 60% of his school days in the first 2 months of school.
- A 15 year old with acne and mood swings. Bad PMS and an inability to focus on her schoolwork. Her MD wants to put her on birth control.
- A newborn infant who can’t poop without a suppository.
- A 4 year old boy with sleep issues and difficulty at pre-school. He causes disruption with other children and falls asleep during school time.
- A 13 year old girl with a rash across the shoulders and under the bra line. Moderately overweight, she has trouble going to sleep at night and craves sugar, bread, fruit, etc.
These are very real challenges that many families are facing. Oftentimes, through no fault of their own, these children are struggling with everyday activities. Sitting for several hours trying to focus on what the teacher says, getting along with siblings and others who might create conflict, sleeping soundly through the night; we should all be able to do these things, but sometimes we have challenges. Fortunately however, it can be improved. What we are learning about the gut-brain connection is that there are many ways a child’s gut and digestive capacity can be a contributing cause to their inability to focus, concentrate, have appropriate behavior etc. They may have been exposed to any number of causative or contributing factors in order to get to this place.
Here are some reasons why your child, family friend, or grandchild may be struggling with one or more of the above examples.
- Cesarean birth
- Adrenal stress
- A poor diet
- Excess sugar in the diet
- Fast food
- Excess family stress
- Drinking out of plastic water bottles
- Prescription medications
When a child is born, there are certain things that should be present, one of those is good gut flora (the bacteria that normally live in the digestive tract that digests their food). The immune system is also very intimate with the digestive tract and so important to the long term health of each and every child. Long term complications of poor digestive health can include learning difficulties, ADHD like symptoms, reflux, acne, constipation, obesity, anxiety and so much more.
Most of us have no idea where our initial exposure to that good bacteria comes from; its mom! During the delivery process mom shares her good bacteria with baby. There are many ways to mess this up, but happily there are also many ways to restore it.
Diet can be one of those key ways to restore and maintain your child’s health. Beginning at birth, whenever possible, your child should be breastfed. When this is not possible, because the brain is developing at such an amazing rate and those good fats are vital to proper development, think about adding DHA and EPA (sources of Omega 3s) to their diet. If there has been a C section birth then probiotics are also necessary to provide that good bacteria that is missing. For infants there are specific probiotics that are needed. For youth, teens, and adults there are a variety of probiotic options, which could also include fermented veggies. As infants grow, their diet should also include plenty of vegetables with a variety of colors, protein (both plant and animal), good fats, and nuts and seeds. Many times we find that children have favorite foods or habits that eliminate completely one or more of these food groups. For a short time this may not be a big deal, but over several months and growth periods, we can see deficiencies develop, behaviors change, and health deteriorate.
Think of a growing child like a house being built. There are certain things under construction at certain times, and once the slab is poured for example, it is too late to put an extra sink in the kitchen. Windows of opportunity open and close quickly, and when they are open, we need all the nutrients available or something will be built to a lesser quality. Not our ideal outcome. Nutrition can be fun and interesting for our young ones, however it does require us to put in some effort. We can’t routinely run through fast food or make them food from a box, we need to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, go to the farmers market (with the kids), and include them in the food preparation process as soon as they are able. When they are educated at a young age as to why healthy food is so important, they will make better choices when they are on their own. If we do have to get food on the go, consider going to the grocery store and picking up healthier options, maybe some fruit, some deli meat, etc. If you tell your kids that as a treat you are taking them to McDonald’s, what message does that send? The message is that fast food must be the best, when in fact it is the worst. They use the lowest quality foods, they are not organic, and have the longest shelf life so they are very difficult to digest, therefore providing us with the least amount of nutrition.
So when do we begin to be concerned about our child’s health? Ideally pre-conception. If that’s not an option, at birth. If that ship has sailed, now! It’s never too late to begin a healthier lifestyle. Start simply with a healthy breakfast. Protein, a good fat, and a fruit or vegetable are all contained in a healthy breakfast. Some options to consider are:
- Smoothies with fresh fruit, veggies, protein powder, a non-dairy beverage
- Eggs fixed any style – fried, poached, hard boiled, frittata, etc
- Leftover dinner from the night before
- Whole grain cereals low in sugar with non-dairy beverage (oatmeal, buckwheat, etc)
- Overnight oats – tons of recipes on Pinterest
- Paleo muffins made with almond flour and coconut flour
It’s so much fun to be creative in the kitchen! And the benefits are so many for our children and ourselves. Healthier families create less stress for everyone, save us money on healthcare costs, and keep our children functioning at optimum physical, emotional, and social levels. It’s a win-win.
Dr. Virginia S. Irby D.C.,DABCO, ACN
2371 Iron Point Rd. Ste. 130
Folsom, CA 95630
Having been a Type A person most of my life, I can say this topic has been a struggle for me. I have always had more than my share of energy, drive and enthusiasm for a project. Having been “born this way” I seem to find a way to do laundry while I sit down for a minute, or sweep the floor while everyone preps for bed. I was obsessed with being busy. I’m now at the age where I can at least observe my obsession with a critical eye and see the need for truly “unplugged time.” There are many forms of down time, whether its a bit of meditation, a quiet bath, gentle exercise or sleep, all are important to our overall health.
I expect for some of you reading this down time may be an issue, so let’s start with what happens during our most important down time, sleep. For some, sleep comes naturally and unadulterated, while for others it is a dance, with bad music, bad partners, and a dance floor covered in mud. It can be hard to find the rhythm. Perhaps small children are in your life right now, or a partner who snores, or you travel for your job, or perhaps you just don’t know why! It happens! Sometimes our sleep issues are things we don’t think could contribute like a poor diet, improper digestion, a Rx side effect, chronic adrenal stress (from caring for a loved one, a job you don’t love, a difficult personal situation) or hormone disruption. Hormone disruption is defined as menopause, birth control, blood sugar issues, stress, etc. Needless to say, there are a multitude of reasons why sleep may evade us.
Is Sleep Really that Important to our Health?
Did you know that recent research has shown that there is a specific kind of lymph in the brain called glymph? Think of the lymphatic system as the sewer system of the body, it follows our circulatory system so goes everywhere we have blood, and picks up the trash we made as a result of our daily cellular processes. The glymphatic system is a waste clearance pathway specifically for the central nervous system; the brain and spinal cord. Glymph cleans up all our brain’s trash during our sleep cycles. It ONLY works when you sleep. It also has other important functions such as the distribution of glucose, neurotransmitters, fats and amino acids, all vital for a properly functioning brain.
Recent studies indicate a failure of the glymphatic system (poor sleep) may contribute to pathology in neurodegenerative disorders (think Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Dementia), brain trauma, and stroke (1 Science Daily 2/27/19). The deeper the sleep the better, so if you have a sleep issue it’s important to get to the underlying cause and fix it, not just cover it up with a prescription. Drinking plenty of water, regular exercise, and getting enough good sleep are all essential to a well functioning glymphatic system.
Many of us suffer from being wired and tired. That means that we are up at 6am take care of our daily responsibilities and finally fall into bed by 11pm or midnight. Maybe we found time to go to the gym and do some strenuous cardio or run a few miles (hard on the adrenals by the way if they are not amazing) and we put that last load of laundry in just before crashing. Now you’re laying there in bed pondering all the things you didn’t get done, or need to do tomorrow, but, most importantly, you’re not sleeping! So tragic! All you need is sleep, but it doesn’t come. We need to find the time to relax, to be calm and introspective.
Some say you have to schedule it in, while others say you need to be more spontaneous about it. I have found that a little of both is needed. Planning personal time into your week, whether its a 15 minute period of meditation at the start or end of your day, a yoga class, a daily commune with nature, a set time to read, etc., is a necessary part of your productive lifestyle. As for the spontaneous part, be on the lookout for opportunities, deviations from the plan that would include some “down time.”
Here’s a couple of ideas for spontaneous moments:
- You need to go to the post office for stamps, the grocery store, and stop at the pet store for dog food. Instead of 3 stops, get your stamps at the grocery store and while at the pet store stop and look at the fish, kittens or puppies for a minute or two. Spend a couple of minutes with a smile on your face, with stress free, purposeful calm.
- You take the kids to practice and the usual routine is you sit and chat with the other parents. While this can be considered down time, only you can say if that’s true. Is it really? Or is it just part of the problem? Change it if needed. You’ll be glad you did, especially if you have limited “me” time. Quality time management is so important!
Its easy to get distracted from our mission, and before you know it an hour has passed and now we are behind. The most common place for this to occur is getting sucked into social media or TV. Purposeful calm is just that, purposeful. Intentional distraction means you’re still in control and it’s not mindless deviation. So whether its planned down time or spontaneous purposeful calm, enjoy the benefits of refueling your spirit, your body, your mind.
Quality down time can also benefit our adrenal glands, thyroid, and digestive system. For some, quality down time needs to look like a 20-30 minute nap. Simply getting horizontal can boost adrenal function for the rest of the day. This is especially important for those who don’t sleep well. You don’t even have to go to sleep, just set an alarm, listen to something relaxing, and give the adrenals a break from all the hard work they do. Remember, stressed out adrenals can keep you awake at night by making too much cortisol, so be nice to them!
The act of self-care has never been more important with our busy lifestyles. Having lived out of the country in slower paced environments I can tell you there is benefit to stepping out of the fast lane from time to time and replenishing yourself. Discover what fits into your routine, where can you slow down and replenish? Your body will thank you for it. And remember, quality down time doesn’t have to be time spent by yourself. Many people love spending quality time with family members and friends.
Make time to call that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with, but never see. Have lunch with a sibling or significant other. Host a movie night. Plan a vacation! The options are endless and should be something that brings YOU joy and rejuvenation.
To finish today, I want to offer some practical solutions to improve your sleep.
Solutions for Improving your Health through Standard Process and MediHerb
If sleep is an issue you must first identify the cause…
- If a snoring partner, you know what you need to do. Move them or you. Eliminating allergens, starting a detox program, and losing weight can all help with snoring.
- If you have a hormone issue you may need to balance them with lifestyle changes, herbs or start a detox program. Lab and saliva test can help us determine if hormones are keeping you from sleeping.
- If you have stress or anxiety there are whole food supplements and herbs that can be helpful while you establish a healthier lifestyle and/or wean off anti-anxiety meds. Some examples are:
- Adrenal Complex
- Ashwaganda Complex
- Adrenal Tonic
- Dessicated Adrenal
To work with me on a plan specific to your needs and concerns, call my office to schedule an appointment!
Dr. Virginia S. Irby D.C.,DABCO, ACN
2371 Iron Point Rd. Ste. 130
Folsom, CA 95630
I don’t know a single person who has a toe or nail fungus that isn’t embarrassed by it. But did you know it can also affect your skin and, more importantly, your gut? It’s true, the most common starting point for a fungal infection is the gut, also known as the digestive system.
The family of pathogens that fungus falls into is commonly known as the Fungus, Mold, Yeast Family. These organisms like to set up housekeeping in moist, warm areas so think sinus, ears, vaginal, armpit, under the breast, mouth and in hot shoes.
Most of us at one time or another thought that we needed to eliminate all bacteria, fungus, mold, and yeast from our environment, however that would not be a good idea. Antibiotic resistant microbes are proof of that with the possibility of C. Diff resulting. C. Diff is a very dangerous life-threatening gut infection often the result of the destruction of too many resident microbes.
There are several billion gut microbes that we actually need in our bodies to help us digest our food, make enzymes and hormones, and more. Without these commensal or co-habitating organisms we could be less than healthy, in fact, some say we could not exist! There are 10x as many bacterial cells in the body as human cells. These cells protect us against the overgrowth of unwanted pathogens so we need to take care of them, feed them, and try NOT to kill them off.
If there are so many of them, how do they get out of balance? Well, WE do that to them sadly and here are some ways that can happen.
- Antibiotics: Killing off most of the good guys and only a few of the more resistant bad guys almost always leaves us with an imbalance and the impending yeast infection, thrush, or recurrent initial infection. Studies show it can take 3-12 months to restore gut flora to some semblance of normal.
- Sugar intake/ Type 2 Diabetes: Sugar feeds yeast, if you have ever made bread, the activating factors are warm water and sugar. Once combined the yeast takes off and multiplies like crazy.
- Prescription Drugs: Many times Rx drugs cannot be avoided, however there is nearly always a consequence. The gut lining replaces itself every three to five days, this can be interfered with by many prescriptions as they have an inflammatory action on the fragile cells, thus resulting in an intestinal lining that becomes hyper-permeable. You may be familiar with this condition as Leaky Gut. The inflammatory state disrupts the mucus lining of the gut and leaves the good bacteria no place to live.
- Stress: We all have some level of stress, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Being excited about an upcoming event is good stress, but there are many types of bad stress. The challenge is that we produce cortisol, an adrenal hormone, as a result of stress, and cortisol slows the repair of the intestinal lining, also leading to damage and inflammation.
- Sodas, sugary drinks and alcohol: Sugar in this form is often not considered a contributor to a fungal or pathogenic overgrowth. However, fruit juice, excess fruit consumption, sodas, and alcohol all turn into sugar. So, much the same way as a diabetic suffers from excess blood sugar so does the person who consumes too much sugar in its natural state.
Let’s explore for a minute how we got our initial gut flora. When you were born, if you were fortunate to have a non-cesarean birth, you were covered in good microbes that your body absorbed and incorporated into your immune system. If you were breast fed this sharing of beneficial microbes continued as the anti-bodies in mothers milk were passed on to you. If you were fed good, whole, unprocessed food…. and on and on.
For some of us, this was not the case; our mother was raised in an allopathic model, where C-sections, antibiotics, and formula were the norm, or were unavoidable. If that is the case don’t dismay, it simply means you need to up your game if you suffer from stealth pathogens such as fungus, mold or yeast.
There is good news!! There are things we can incorporate into our daily routine that will help us on our path:
- Eat more garlic, ginger, and onion
- Eat whole food, unprocessed, not from a box
- Drink water and herbal teas
- Wear breathable shoes if you have nail fungus
- Eliminate wheat and dairy when warranted
If you’re already being proactive and feel more support is needed, there are more advanced courses of action you can take:
- A stealth pathogen protocol (supervised by Dr. Virginia)
- Topical herbal tinctures
- A gut restoration protocol (supervised by Dr. Virginia)
- An elimination diet or weight loss program to balance blood sugar
Fungal infections often get misdiagnosed and are challenging to eliminate. Complicating conditions can include SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) , SIFO (small intestine fungal overgrowth), gas, bloating, GERD, and reflux, in which case many allopathic approaches might be an over the counter or prescription antacid. This approach is rarely the best option and in fact is contrary to alleviating the underlying cause of the fungal infection wherever it resides. This is because the pH balance of the gut should in fact be acidic and not alkaline. An acid environment helps to kill the bad bacteria also.
There are so many ways to compromise our health, and so many ways to improve it. As informed consumers we get to choose! Being committed to a healthier lifestyle is something you can do to improve your overall health, do it for you, do it NOW!
Dr. Virginia S. Irby D.C.,DABCO, ACN
2371 Iron Point Rd. Ste. 130
Folsom, CA 95630