Stress and the Brain
Traumatic Brain Injury = brain injury as the result of destructive action from external causes, such as a blow to the head.
Chronic Brain Injury = a term I coined to reference a progressive deterioration of the brain from inflammation caused by poor diet, lack of exercise and ongoing stress.
The culprit in Chronic Brain Injury is Inflammation. Inflammation is caused by:
Sugar-spikes insulin and promotes the production of cytokines which have an inflammatory effect.
Chemicals – Pesticides, environmental pollution, hormonally –modulating plastic, fire retardants, and cosmetic additives all stimulate our immune systems to varying extents and disrupt optimal functioning of our cells, including brain cells.
Pathogens – Herbicides, gluten grains, genetically modified foods promote intestinal permeability, changes in our intestinal flora that facilitate growth of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungus which keep our immune systems in a state of alarm. More inflammation!
Stress -The ultimate link between hormones and inflammation due to physical and psychological stress is cortisol. Cortisol helps to mobilize blood sugar so you can run effectively and efficiently from emergencies.
In short bursts, the “fight or flight response” generated by the sympathetic nervous system is functional. But over a lifetime, getting stuck in this mode doesn’t permit the brain to rest. The result is chronic overdrive and deteriorated functioning of the brain.
Two parts of the brain affected by stress are the hippocampus (memory) and the amygdala (emotional expression). According to researchers, with chronic toxic stress, our brains respond by discounting factual information (memory) and rely heavily on emotional experiences (amygdala). So our experience goes out the window and we react!
What can we do to heal the chronic effects of inflammation?
Exercise: Burst exercise is most effective. Max for 30 secs, rest for 90 secs.
Diet: Elimination of refined carbs and grains, and introduction of high levels of natural fats to push the body to relearn how to use fats for fuels. This is the brain’s preferred source.
Strategic supplementation: Natural anti-inflammatories like polyunsaturated fats (fish oil, evening primrose oil, essential oils), curcumin, and probiotics can help promote a synergy of beneficial effects with the above interventions.
Meditation: The effects of stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (relax and digest), even through listening to a 20 minute guided meditation , can be far-reaching. The enhanced expression of anti-inflammatory genes and suppression of inflammatory through meditation has been demonstrated. empirically.
With the legalization of hemp products, CBD oil is being studied for its anti-inflammatory properties. More to come on that front down the road.