A thousand years ago, even educated people weren't sure the brain was a vital organ. They certainly didn't know what it did. This last 100 years has given us an explosion of information. What can we say in this short space?
First is that for most people brain degeneration can be dramatically slowed down by taking a few basic steps. The brain like your body needs exercise. In this case exercise means learning. One of best brain stimulators is learning to play the harp. Learning to play other musical instruments will help too. Learning a new language is difficult for an adult but is also very brain protective.
As you learn, your brain makes new connections. It is these connections that keep a neuron alive. While we are on the subject of neurons, you have heard that we only use 10% of our brains. A cardinal rule of neurology is that if a neuron isn't used for 10 days, it dies. So the neurons that are still alive are being used. A lot of our brain is used in ways that makes us uniquely human, that is giving us the ability to walk on two legs in a coordinated fashion, learn language etc.
All else being equal, a person with a college education or equivalent will show symptoms of a genetic brain disorder much slower than a person who led a simple, repetitive life. Physical exercise is also brain protective. Exercise delivers oxygen to this metabolically active zone and exercise also does good things for blood sugar control. The brain runs on sugar and does best when blood sugar levels are kept within a tight range.
So far we have to keep learning and exercise regularly. But wait, there's more. People who study the history of man have noticed that brain size over the last 10,000 years or so has generally decreased. The commonly held opinion is that this is due at least in part, to the beginning of reliance on grains as a staple. Before the agricultural revolution, people were hunters and gatherers and ate what they found that day. Having a reliable source of calories like wheat that could be stored and transported across great distances had some advantages for civilization. Brain health wasn't one of them. To read more, I recommend books such as The Paleo Diet or the Primal Blueprint.
A few cultures around the world still don't rely on these classes of plants. Again researchers have noted that these cultures have an almost complete lack of schizophrenia and related brain disorders. Part of the reason is that several components of the grain can cause an autoimmune reaction and one of the key organs subject to damage from this autoimmune cascade is the brain and other neural tissue.
The most studied component of wheat is gluten. Gluten is made up of two proteins. The gliadin portion can have a very powerful autoimmune stimulating effect but the other protein glutenin is not benign either in some people according to very recent research.
Today it is easy to tell if this is happening to you. We recommend Cyrex Labs Array 3 test. This is a simple, single-tube blood draw and costs about $325. It is a one-time test and can save your life. Because understanding gluten is so key to understanding chronic inflammation and illness, you will find a separate learning section at OVitaminPro.com on this topic. Gluten Resources.
Omega-3 fatty acids and phosphatidyl choline are essential components to neural health. Researchers have long ago determined that the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids should be about 1:1 for optimum health. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is closer to 20:1 or even higher. This is because foods like corn and wheat contain mostly omega-6 fatty acids. Fish oils and flax seed oils contain much higher ratios of omega-3 fatty acids. Wild game meat also is much higher in omega-3 fatty acids than its domesticated counterparts.
Several companies have figured out how to get that important fish oil into capsules without the oils suffering degradation by oxidation that begins almost immediately after the fish is caught. We recommend brands such as Nordic Naturals, Metagenics and NuMedica. Nordic Naturals has built its entire business around delivering oxidation free omega-3 fatty acids. Some have pointed out that there aren't enough quality omega-3 fatty acids for 7 billion people.
We also recommend Thorne Research's PHOSPHATIDYL CHOLINE to give your body the building blocks to make the best cell membranes. Phosphatidyl choline is an important component of cell membranes. Cell membranes control what comes in and what leaves a cell.
Metagenics has also brought to market a wonderful product called Ceriva. In a process like Alzheimer's Disease, the body produces beta amyloid proteins that begin to cause brain degeneration. This eventually leads to a more permanent brain damage condition with an abundance of something called tau proteins. The active ingredient in Ceriva has been shown in animal studies to dramatically reduce the beta amyloid protein concentration and also reduce the progression to the tau protein state. You may be able to slow down or prevent certain types of brain degeneration by chewing on chocolate-flavored Ceriva tablet three times per week. We have seen this work and highly recommend it for everyone over 45 years of age.
See also Shop By Concern Neurotransmitter Support. Neurotransmitter support is a relatively recent advance with an excellent track record already. Keeping your neurotransmitters tuned-up pays off now and in your future.
I know this is article is a little long but I wanted to give you the important basics regarding the part of you that makes you most human.