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Food For Thought

Neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are often thought to be permanent and irreversible. Not so, says Dr. Jay Lombard in his new book, The Brain Wellness Plan. He says with proper nutrition we can work with our doctors to not only prevent brain disorders, but to treat them as well.

Once upon a time, scientists believed that humans were born with a finite number of brain cells and that once those brain cells died, they were gone forever. Now, however, scientists believe the adult brain continues to form new neurons and is able to activate a part of the brain in order to compensate for a part of the brain that has been weakened by age or disease.

Discovering the brain's plasticity has given hope to sufferers of neurological disorders. It means that the brain has the capacity to "heal and regenerate at every stage of our lives," says Lombard in his book. Most neurological diseases are caused by a breakdown in communication between the brain and the immune system. When the body is fighting off an infection, it produces "free-radicals" that essentially attack invaders like bacteria, toxins and viruses. When communication between the brain and the immune system breaks down, though, the free radicals will also attack the body's own cells--often in the brain where the cells are fatty. In addition, many brain cells are preprogrammed toward death, as part of the brain's normal housekeeping process called apoptosis. Many neurological diseases, though, are caused when apoptosis goes too far and leads to abnormal cell suicide.

Lombard believes the key to a healthy brain, and to overall health, is nutrition. He talks about the balance between the brain and the immune system and presents the results of clinical trials documenting ways nutritional agents maintain brain health and reverse neurological diseases.

In his book he says we can help maintain our brain through diet in two ways:

  1. Counter damage already done by restoring neurotransmitter balance to the brain.

  2. Prevent future damage by consuming phytonutrients and essential fatty acids that function as antioxidants to balance an overactive immune system.

To get started on the road to health, Lombard says to avoid fad diets and eat a variety of foods: whole, unrefined carbohydrates, like whole-grain bread, organic vegetables, meats and poultry.

Lombard also says to limit fat intake to 25% of your daily calories; limit red meats to 4 ounces twice a week; emphasize fish, fowl and low-fat yogurt; and to explore vegetarian sources of protein.

Lombard’s advice is also to limit cholesterol to less than 300mg daily, to avoid sugar and sweets, and avoid packaged, processed foods that may contain undesirable nutritional constituents like hydrogenated fats, preservatives, or high amounts of saturated fat or sugar.

In addition to the food requirements, Lombard recommends the following supplements: glutamine, indigestible fiber, frendly bacteria, chlorophyll and nucleotides.

Those are just the supplements he recommends for the digestive system. For the brain, he recommends a multi-vitamin, antioxidants, a calcium magnesium supplement, a total B vitamin supplement and supplements of zinc, magnesium, copper, and selenium.

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