In children, the brain can manifest both immune and inflammatory reactions to stimuli in the environment, leading to behavior problems and nutrient deficiencies, which can severely impact their ability to thrive in the classroom and at home.
We can improve memory and learn better with the help of functional medicine in our diet, lifestyle, and individual brain chemistry.
Functional Solutions for ADD and ADHD
ADD or ADHD is a diagnosis given to a collection of symptoms people share in common: an inability to focus, inattentiveness, and hyperactivity.
If these are the symptoms, can functional medicine find their root cause?
Inflammatory and immune reactions play a significant role in the root cause of attention disorders, both in adults and children (3).
Low levels of serotonin have also been found in patients with attention deficit, warranting investigation into the health of intestinal bacteria and the gut’s ability to produce serotonin.
When an integrative medicine practitioner treats mental health, he or she will often treat brain health as well, removing bad influences, and optimizing input via diet, supplements, and lifestyle.
The Detox Factor
Some people have a genetic predisposition for sensitivity to heavy metals. CentreSpringMD includes this testing when evaluating optimal cognition.
Children and adults who have a high burden of heavy metals can have poor detox capability and reduced glutathione status, which places them at greater risk for poor brain health (4).
Better learning depends on healthy levels of oxidative stress in the brain, which can impact memory retention as well.
Heal Your Brain with Integrative Medicine
When optimizing brain function, CentreSpringMD begins with a Gibson test to pinpoint which areas of learning, memory, or processing skills need addressing.
From there, your integrative medicine provider uses these clues to build a comprehensive approach, combining a treatment plan of diet, brain training, and nutrient deficiency solutions.
Your integrative practitioner will also address increasingly common problems like gut bacteria imbalance that can significantly impact brain function, learning, and memory.
7 Strategies for Holistic Brain Health
- Eat simple, whole foods
Our brains (and body) function at their best when the majority of our diet consists of whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible. Avoid heavily processed convenience foods as much as possible, and prioritize cooking at home with real ingredients, as much as your lifestyle and budget will allow.
- Reduce sugar
Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners hijack brain chemistry by decreasing a specialized protein in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF (5). Create steady energy for your brain by getting more carbohydrates from veggies, and less from refined sources like white flour.
- Focus on phytonutrients & antioxidants
The best superfoods are the ones you eat every day. Any vegetable with a deep or vibrant color is full of antioxidants and phytonutrients that promote the health of brain cells, their communication, and neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt over your lifetime.
- Eat healthy fats
60 Percent of the brain is made up of fat, and in this case, quality matters. Omega 3 fats from fish, algae, and flax promote a healthy brain cell membrane and healthy levels of inflammation within the brain.
- Consume anti-inflammatory foods.
Inflammation has been linked to Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADD, and depression, among other mental health problems. This is a result of cytokine production and dysregulation that creates oxidative damage and poor energy to the brain.
- Develop healthy coping strategies.
The effects of stress are real, and so is the impact our thoughts and emotions have upon our physiology. Developing coping strategies during difficult times is paramount to strengthening mental resilience. Start with simple practices like gratitude journaling, developing affirmations, or meditation to promote brain health and relaxation.
- Leverage the right supplements
A functional approach to brain health, learning, and memory can be well-supported by leveraging the help of the right supplements.
- Phosphatidylserine supports learning and memory (6).
- CoQ10 supports the energy-producing capability of mitochondria in the brain and body. The more efficient and robust your mitochondria, the more energy is available for the brain.
- The majority of your brain is made up of fat. If your diet isn’t rich in DHA and EPA, an omega 3 supplement can support healthy levels of oxidative stress and inflammation within the brain.
- Lion’s mane mushrooms support the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) within the brain, and also the overall function of a healthy nervous system (7).
- Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions within the body, and is a must when dealing with brain health of any kind.
- B vitamins modulate stress response, play a role in energy, and provide cofactors for dozens of other reactions in the brain.