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How To Detox For Better Brain Health

Detoxification is an essential cellular function. When the body detoxifies, it packages debris in the form of foods and toxins so that it can be easily excreted from the body. We eliminate this debris through various mechanisms such as our gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary tract, respiratory tract, and our sweat glands, and it requires the function of multiple organs such as the liver, lungs, gallbladder, skin, kidneys, and yes, the brain!

Why organs like your brain suffer most from toxins.

Our body’s detox pathways also require a variety of nutrients that act as cofactors for the enzymes involved in this multi step process. These include activation, oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis, conjugation, methylation, and recirculation. Because it’s so complex, detox requires significant amounts of the body’s energy supply.

When our body is assaulted by the exposure to pro-inflammatory foods, alcohol, tobacco, medications, and foreign substances such as drugs, heavy metals, chemicals, persistent pollutants, and microorganisms, our natural detoxification systems can be overwhelmed and unhealthy metabolites can accumulate and ultimately trigger mitochondrial dysfunction, metabolic deficiencies, immunotoxicity, and resultant neuroinflammation (also known as inflammation in the brain). As a result, the body’s energy is diverted and metabolically active organs such as the brain, the heart, and the muscles start to suffer. It is then we start to feel unwell and experience not only chronic fatigue and weakness but slow processing and cognitive difficulties.

How to detox for better brain health.

So what can you do to start detoxing your brain from the effects of contaminants, toxins, and inflammation?

Here are some suggestions:

1.   Eat a diverse variety of fruits and vegetables.

Colors represent different vitamins and nutrients, so include ginger, turmeric, garlic, beets, broccoli seed sprouts, and herbs such as thyme and rosemary in your diet each day. Consume dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables regularly. Other important food groups include nuts, seeds, legumes, and fatty fruits such as avocados and bananas – .

2.   Include complex forms of carbohydrates.

While it’s best to stay away from simple and processed carbs, complex carbohydrates are an important energy source for the brain, as the glucose molecule—broken down from whole grain and starch sources by the intricate mechanisms with our body’s catabolic pathways—is the preferred energy source of the brain and its cells.

3.   Incorporate interval eating patterns into your meal plans.

Allowing the body to take a break from digestive duties will help divert energy from the gastrointestinal tract to the organs recruited for detoxification pathways. This can take the form of a simple intermittent fasting plan.

4.   Try to minimize exposure to toxins and contaminants as much as possible.

Eat organic when you can to minimize exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and farm chemical residues. Use eco-friendly cosmetics, personal care products, and cleaning agents.

5. Target your supplementation for additional detox capability.

You can do this with supplements like milk thistle for liver support, Coleus forskhii for respiratory support, ubiquinol and NAD+ for mitochondrial support, L-glutamine for gastrointestinal support, and N-acetylcysteine for additional antioxidant support since detoxification results in reactive oxygen species, which are damaging to our cells. For increased brain support, consider the use of plants such as Lion’s mane, Boswellia, and Macuna pruriens. For more information on how exactly to use these supplements and in what dosage, speak to an integrative physician, naturopathic doctor, or other supplement-savvy health care practitioner.

6.   Daily movement and exercise.

Run, walk, hike, go to a yoga class, dance, and cycle. However you can manage, sweat each and every day and it will support your detox pathways and your brain.

7.   Deep breathing exercises with episodic rapid breathing.

Did you know that breathing exhales waste by-products? It’s true. Rapid breathing (like in this video) also results in alkaline urine, which can help you better excrete other toxin metabolites as well.

8.   Maintain good hydration.

Fill up that reusable water bottle at least a few times a day. Proper fluid balance keeps blood and lymph moving through the kidneys and leads to better elimination of toxins through urination.

9. Aim for 20 minutes in nature each day.

Research is clear that immersion in nature improves mental clarity, decreases stress and anxiety, and has beneficial physiological effects such as lowered heart rate and respiratory rate and decreased blood pressure. These improved physiological parameters can only help the body during detoxification. So, go for a hike, walk through the park, or sit in your garden for a few minutes each day.

10. Sleep at least seven to eight hours each night.

During restorative sleep, the brain is able to repair cellular damage from toxins and other exposures. Make sure you’re giving your brain a chance to slow down and repair itself every night by getting enough sleep.

 

Rachel x

Why Meditation Is Amazing For Your Mental Health

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There’s no denying that meditation has officially gone mainstream. Gone are the days where people turned their noses up and wrote it off as a bit weird. Now, there are a growing number of meditation classes being offered as well as some brilliant apps to help us find calm anytime and anywhere.

Taking a few minutes to meditate every day with the goal of becoming more mindful, or focused on and accepting of the present, is a great way to relieve stress. But it’s even more powerful than you think. Mindfulness meditation helps ease mental health conditions like depression and anxiety—so much so, that some clinicians are trying it as a course of treatment before turning to medication.

Here’s how meditation can help put you in control of your mental health.

Meditating actually changes your brain, and with it, the way your body responds to stress. Which works wonders on depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Studies have been suggesting for the past decade that meditation can bring big health benefits, but it wasn’t until recent years that research has looked into exactly how it can change the brain.

A recent study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, studied 35 unemployed men and women experiencing the major stress of searching for a job, and found significant changes to the brain on scans done after just three days of mindfulness meditation. Specifically, there was more activity in the portions dedicated to processing stress, focus, and calmness. In blood tests, the subjects also showed lower levels of an important marker of inflammation – even four months after the study!

It’s this impact on the body’s stress response that seems to make meditation so effective in treating mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD

Meditation can even take the place of medication for some people.

One study published in 2015 in The Lancet showed that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a treatment that combines mindfulness meditation with traditional cognitive behavioural therapy, was just as effective at preventing recurrence of depression as antidepressants—even for those with a larger risk of relapsing.

For the best results, meditate every day, first thing in the morning. And you can start with just five minutes.

Research has yet to pinpoint the magic time requirement to see these brain changes and improve mental health outcomes. But  ideally you should try to do it every day for 10-12 minutes. Four to fives times per week is great too, if you really can’t get to seven. The key is to be consistent.

A lot of my clients are health conscious, so I equate meditation with going to the gym. Think of meditation as mental fitness, you’re not going to get fit working out one day a week; it needs to be several times a week. We’re changing mental muscles in your brain, and it takes repetition and consistency for those changes to occur. If you’ve never meditated before, start with just five minutes or even just noticing your breathe and being aware. For many people, that’s going to seem like an eternity! Get used to focusing on your breath and stopping your mind when it wanders, and once that five minutes is flying by, increase your time to ten minutes.

 

Rachel x

Please Note: if you are suffering from a mental health condition it is always best to speak to your GP, I have also included in this post links to the mental health charity Mind who can also offer help and advice.  

 

Natural Remedies To Soothe Anxiety.

Chamomile-Tea

According to Mental Health Foundation UK 22% of women (this rises to 28% for 18-24 year olds) feel anxious all or most of the time. Many of us are very good at hiding the it. Sound familiar? Give my 4 natural remedies to soothe anxiety a try.

1 CHAMOMILE

A lack of sleep is one of the most common triggers for an anxiety attack, but when you’re feeling stressed the last thing on your mind is getting som sleep. Causing a restless night with wild thoughts racing through your mind, and the cycle continues … Break the cycle with a cup of calming chamomile tea. A recent study suggests that chamomile significantly relaxes blood vessels and smooths muscle fibers helping to release built up tension, helping you drift off to sleep.

2 VALERIAN ROOT

A popular over-the-counter sedative in Japan, valerian root is a natural treatment for anxiety. Helping to promote sleep, control panic attacks and relieve tension headaches, scientists have found that the herb increased the amount of GABA (a chemical which helps regulate the nerve cells and calm anxiety) in the brain.

3 LAVENDER

With a long history in herbal therapy, lavender is most commonly used in aromatherapy. An emotional anti-inflammatory, the essential oils from lavender are believed to help promote calmness. Lavender sprays which are applied to pillows are also said to help promote a peaceful night’s sleep, perfect for those suffering from stress.

4 LEMON BALM

This herb has a calming history which dates back to the middle ages. It is said to help ‘lift spirits’, heal wounds and calm insect bites, it’s also commonly combined with valerian to soothe stress. Studies suggest it can help aid indigestion and that when used in aromatherapy, it can also help to improve cognitive function and decrease agitation in those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Rachel x

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