Although some may fear that their genetic destiny lies within their family’s health history, a differing belief that advocates a more empowering viewpoint is gaining momentum. We are in the midst of a health revolution advocating that we can take control of our own health through the choices we make every day.
After the failure of the human genome project to successfully predict most diseases based on genetics (1), it is now well established that in actuality our genes play a much smaller role than their interaction with our environment. Even prior to BreakFree Medicine, there has been a plethora of studies on how various natural substances and lifestyle modifications can modulate the risk to chronic diseases in powerful and positive ways.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the science of epigenetics!
It is the study of how we have the means to manipulate our environment in order to change the way our cells function. These wonderful, wide-eyed, eager scientists, spear-headed by Dr. Bruce Lipton and Jeffrey Bland, PhD, are continuing to document how various actions we do every day, such as what we put in our mouth, affects every aspect of our lives, even our risk of cancer.
By now, many health-conscious individuals have come across the news of how eating broccoli sprouts can mitigate cancer risk. Furthermore, it’s been hard to miss the new headliner, turmeric. This bit of curry has the science behind it to back how a simple Indian spice can work on more than one biochemical pathway, turning off cancer expression as its decreases blood sugar, alleviates pain, soothes stress, and calms overall body inflammation (2-4).
Does this make you appreciate grandma and mom who encouraged you to eat your veggie curry a little more?
One of my favorite wellness tips is combining herbals and nutrients with the life-blood of the plant, essential oils. By doing this, the essential oils will assist in bringing the nutrients to the cells that need it most. This is because essential oils are so similar to our own blood chemistry that they can penetrate our cellular membranes and have powerful immune-modulating effects.
Furthermore, the study of functional medicine has allowed me to specify just exactly what each unique individual needs for their best wellness! (My clients deserve more than generalized, cook-book, protocols.) Functional medicine combines well with the naturopathic philosophy to treat the cause of disease, down to the cellular level and specific DNA patterns. As my clients hear me say all the time, this is truly “cool school!”
Now that you have the background of how we can use different substances and lifestyle factors to modify our disease risk, I wanted to give you more tips on protecting one of our most important organs, our brain.
The majority of our population is aging and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is a major concern for our baby boomers that are sandwiched between taking care of their parents and parenting their children. Many have concern that their own facilities will not stay as sharp.
Rightly so, as there are some pretty dreary statistics such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease rates as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States
- One in three seniors currently dies with a form of dementia
- From 2000 to 2010, there was a 68 percent increase in deaths from Alzheimer’s, while deaths from other major diseases, including heart disease decreased (5)
I am hoping that my introduction prior these statistics, combined with the following tips giving you lifestyle choices to decrease your risk will bring you comfort.
Fish Oil & Memory
A January 2014 study demonstrated how higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids levels in red blood cells positively affects memory in 1000 female participants. Furthermore, MRI brain scans confirmed that those with higher levels of fatty acids in their red blood cells had higher brain volume in the area of memory (6).
Alzheimer’s and Fish Oils (x 2)
Research from Sweden provided evidence that omega-3s (EPA and DHA) may help prevent or delay dementia if a person’s diet consistently included these healthy fats prior to symptoms (7).
Pesticides Linked to Parkinson’s
A study in the journal Neurology has suggested a link between pesticide exposure and Parkinson’s. In keeping with the theme of genetic susceptibility, individuals with specific gene variants were thought to be more at risk (8-9).
Two words to rectify this…organic food and diffuse. Okay, I used four words.
16-Year-Old Defies Death Following Fish Oil Treatment
The tragedy and triumph of 16-year-old Grant Virgin, who experienced skull fractures, spinal fractures, and bleeding throughout his brain after a hit-and-run became major headline news. Despite doctors deeming his case hopeless, his famous nutritionist mom, JJ Virgin, proved them wrong. JJ Virgin brought together a group of integrative practitioners and natural solutions, including high dose fish oils and essential oils, to rehabilitate her son (10).
Continue learning more brain health tips at my Simple Tips for a Better Brain blog and the essential oil tips below.
1. Wade, N. A Decade Later, Genetic Map Yields Few New Cures. New York Times. June 12, 2010
2. King, M. How To Get More Cancer Protection From Your Broccoli.GreenMed Info.com. July 28, 2013.
3. Mercola, J. The Benefits of Curcumin in Cancer Treatment. mercola.com. March 2, 2014.
4. Quain, J. Your diet may not fit your genes, scientists say. FoxNews.com February 17, 2014
5. Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures. alz.org. Accessed March 2, 2014.
6. Flynn, M. Brain Food: More omega-3 fatty acids linked to greater brain volume. philly.com.February 22, 2014.
7. Weatherby, C. Alzheimer’s News Points to Omega 3’s Promise. Vital Choice Newsletter. February 20, 2014.
Abstracts cross referenced:
- Hjorth E, Zhu M, Toro VC, Vedin I, Palmblad J, Cederholm T, Freund-Levi Y, Faxen-Irving G, Wahlund LO, Basun H, Eriksdotter M, Schultzberg M. Omega-3 fatty acids enhance phagocytosis of Alzheimer’s disease-related amyloid-?42 by human microglia and decrease inflammatory markers. J Alzheimers Dis. 2013;35(4):697-713. doi: 10.3233/JAD-130131.
- Hooijmans CR, Pasker-de Jong PC, de Vries RB, Ritskes-Hoitinga M. The effects of long-term omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on cognition and Alzheimer’s pathology in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;28(1):191-209. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2011-111217. Review.
- Otaegui-Arrazola A, Amiano P, Elbusto A, Urdaneta E, Martínez-Lage P. Diet, cognition, and Alzheimer’s disease: food for thought. Eur J Nutr. 2014 Feb;53(1):1-23. doi: 10.1007/s00394-013-0561-3. Epub 2013 Jul 27.
- Wang X, Zhu M, Hjorth E, Cortés-Toro V, Eyjolfsdottir H, Graff C, Nennesmo I, Palmblad J, Eriksdotter M, Sambamurti K, Fitzgerald JM, Serhan CN, Granholm AC, Schultzberg M. Resolution of inflammation is altered in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Dement. 2014 Feb 12. pii: S1552-5260(14)00030-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2013.12.024. [Epub ahead of print]
8. Whitman, H. Low-level pesticide exposure linked to Parkinson’s disease. Medical News Today. February 4, 2014.
9. Mercola, J. Low-Level Pesticide Exposure Linked to Parkinson’s Disease. mercola.com.February 20, 2014.
10. Mercola, J. Fish Oil Cited in Dramatic Healing After Severe Brain Trauma. mercola.com. February 9, 2014
Brain Health & Essential Oils Highlights
Consider adding these oils to your daily oil use routine to support memory and brain health.
1. The Effect of Sage on Enhancing Memory
It looks like Salvia species (Sage) has been named appropriately for its ability to prevent mental decline. One study showed how its various species types prevented the decline of the memory. This was thought to be through its ability to modulate the enzymes acetylchoinesterases and butrylchoinesterase.
Source: Senol FS, et al. Evaluation of cholinesterase inhibitory and antioxidant activities of wild and cultivated samples of sage (Salvia fruticosa) by activity-guided fractionation. J Med Food. 2011 Nov; 14(11):1476-83. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.0158.
2. Carnosic Acid and Brain Plaques
Carnosic acid, found in rosemary and sage, was found to play a role in suppressing the formation of Amyloid beta (A?) peptides in human brain cells. These peptides play a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Source: Yoshida H, et al. Carnosic acid suppresses the production of amyloid-? 1-42 and 1-43 by inducing an ?-secretase TACE/ADAM17 in U373MG human astrocytoma cells. Neurosci Res. 2013 Dec 1. pii: S0168-0102(13)00261-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2013.11.004. [Epub ahead of print]