Archive for September, 2019

The Care and Feeding of Your Brain, Part 1

Who doesn’t want to learn quickly; remember well; feel alert; and be cheerful and optimistic? Hello brain, we’ve decided to take good care of you! Beyond what we usually think of as mental function, we should remember that if the brain isn’t working, then ultimately nothing works. That is because, along with our gut bacteria, the brain controls most of the body’s functions, right down to breathing and swallowing.

This is the first part of a library page that I’m building about the brain. You will see that the basics boil down to obeying the two prime directives of being “healthy by nature”—(1) give the body everything it needs for optimum function and (2) don’t gum up the works with things it cannot handle. I’m starting with rule #2. The list below is far from exhaustive, but it should give you the idea.

Rule #2—Don’t gum up the brain with damaging toxins and excesses:

  • Smoking. I probably don’t need to say much on this because even smokers know that the habit is bad for most every aspect of health. However, here is a good article if you need more encouragement to quit.
  • Anticholinergic drugs. Before you are tempted to say “I don’t take any”, hold on because many of these look innocent on retail store shelves. They include some antihistamines, most nighttime meds, some for nausea, urinary control and heartburn. See if any of these OTC brands sound familiar: Advil PM, Aleve PM, Bayer PM, Benadryl, Dimetapp, Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Nyquil, Nytol, Simply Sleep, Sominex, and Tylenol PM. Anticholinergics interfere with an important brain signaling compound, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The more of these you take and the longer you are on them, the worse the long term damage. According to this Harvard article, “taking an anticholinergic for the equivalent of three years or more was associated with a 54% higher dementia risk than taking the same dose for three months or less.” The list of prescription drugs with anticholinergic effects is quite long and includes meds for allergy, anxiety, bladder control, depression, dizziness, gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, insomnia, muscle relaxation, and pain. Here is a good article on the subject with a list of common drugs. It is best to ask your pharmacist and/or do a web search for the name of your drug and the word anticholinergic.
  • Heartburn drugs. These increase dementia risk in a different way from the anticholinergics. They block stomach acid which needed to provide the body (and brain!) with protein, minerals and especially vitamin B12. I’ll discuss B12 in more depth when I add rule #1 to the brain page, but we discussed this crucial brain and nerve vitamin at length in an interview with Sally M. Pacholok RN BSN, the author of Could It Be B12? (Second Edition): An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses. These drugs are so damaging that I wrote a whole book about them.

In a future installment of what you should NOT do to your brain, I will talk about antibiotics, agricultural chemicals, sugar, and more.

Is your brain growing or shrinking?

I was impressed with this article from Michelle Ward, MS* and, since it had not been published elsewhere, she kindly agreed to let me use it as my blog this week.

New studies show that regular, moderate exercise has a beneficial effect on the brain as we age. With more than half of adults over 85 experiencing cognitive or memory issues, a little exercise may go a long way.1

Neuroscientist Art Kramer at the University of Illinois scanned the brains of 120 older adults over the course of a year. 2 At the beginning of the study, half of the participants started a program of moderate aerobic exercise: mostly walking for just 45 minutes, three days a week. The other half did not engage in exercise. After a year, MRI scans showed an increase in the volume of parts of the brains for the group that did exercise.

Interestingly, the placebo group that did not engage in exercise lost 1.5 percent of their brain volume. The group that had greater brain volume from exercise was also found to have better memory compared to the placebo.

Animal studies have shown that exercise increases new neuron production, strengthens the connections between neurons and increases blood volume to numerous areas of the brain.3

According to Kramer, brain exercises like Sudoku or crossword puzzles are not as conclusive compared to the research on aerobic exercise but are still a good idea.

Nutritional Support for the Brain

There is evidence suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids—found in certain fish—and antioxidants like vitamins C and E—found in vegetables—may help nourish the brain.4

A recent study also revealed that vitamin B12 may protect against the actual “shrinkage” of the brain as we age.5 The study measured 107 people from ages 61-87 for five years with brain scans and MRI’s.

The study found that people who had higher vitamin B12 levels were less likely to experience brain shrinkage compared with those who had lower levels of the vitamin in their blood (5). None of the people in the study had a vitamin B12 deficiency. You do not have to be deficient in B12 to see brain shrinkage. Low B12 levels can put you at risk as well.


1. What is Dementia?

2. Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory

3. Exercise builds brain healthkey roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation

4. Nutrient biomarker patterns, cognitive function, and MRI measures of brain aging

5. Vitamin B12 status and rate of brain volume loss in community-dwelling elderly

*Michelle Ward is a Certified Holistic Health Coach specializing in helping people make simple, yet profound lifestyle changes that dramatically impact health in a positive way.  Michelle embraces the idea of bio-individuality and evaluates each client’s nutrition, movement, stress, sleep, hydration and mindset in order to create a program that is unique and sustainable for the individual she coachesTo schedule a complimentary consultation, visit or email her at [email protected].






Interesting items of news

Whole body vibration, the gut and inflammation. I have been a fan of whole body vibration because it seems to help lymph drainage and who knows, it might jiggle off some fat. And, I’ve heard it may help back pain. But, now there is surprising medical news saying that spending time on a whole body vibrator also has a positive effect on our microbiome (the collection of trillions of microorganisms in our gut). Apparently it rearranges the layers of organisms and increases species that keep the lining healthier. The vibration actually leads to higher amounts of a kind of human immune cell that can reduce inflammation and improve glucose management (which is, of course, related to diabetes). It is easy—you just stand there! My own unit is kind of a big deal that I tried at a traveling demo at Costco. However, this one looks like it might be an affordable option that would be easy to store.

Deafness and blindness in a teen—caused by a junk food diet. We all know by now that a nutrient-poor, highly processed diet will ultimately lead to disease and an early death. But, did you know that the trouble could occur this early and in this way? Recent news revealed that a British 17-year-old who lived for a decade almost entirely on “chips [fries], crisps [Pringles], white bread and processed meat” became legally deaf and blind. There are many ways he could have been damaged, but the most likely culprit seems to have been a deficiency of vitamin B12. That can cause permanent nerve damage.  

On the other hand, plant foods save the day. A pretty big study (56,048 participants) in Denmark showed that “A moderate habitual intake of flavonoids is inversely associated with all-cause, cardiovascular- and cancer-related mortality.” In other words, eating colorful vegetables and fruits high in flavonoid compounds may save your life from cardiovascular disease, cancer and well, any cause. It doesn’t take a high intake. However, smokers and drinkers do need more.

Reminders about Bill Sardi.

  • In his article about various anti-aging substances, there is a chart. It might not be obvious, but you have to scroll to the right to see that vitamin C has the most powerful life-extending effect.
  • Gallbladder issue? Read his FREE BOOK on the gallbladder.
  • He recently answered a listener question about Boron, 12 mg a day, helps keep testosterone from being bound up and therefore inactive.

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