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Super Aging with Neurogenesis and BDNF

Plus, Fiber, Your Microbiome and Sugar

Neurogenesis and BDNF: You can probably guess that neurogenesis means making new neurons. Well, you are right. It means the process of creating new neurons in the brain, and how the brain renews and upgrades itself. If you think this is important, again, you are dead right. We all want to prevent dementia and keep all of our brain cells clicking away, with the help of a neurohealthy life style.

Let's start with a list of what is bad for Neurogenesis: Sugar, crappy carbs, overeating, inflammatory foods, alcohol, caffeine, charred anything, esp. meat, concussions, blue light, chronic anger and hostility, isolation and loneliness. And, esp. the Four Poisons for Neurogenesis: Inflammation, Chronic Stress, Physical Assaults (like concussions, chemical poisonings and emotional trauma) and Deprivation. (The Neurogenesis Diet and Lifestyle by Brant Cortright, Ph.D.).

Now, what is good for Neurogenesis? Aerobic exercise, fasting 12-14 hours every day, foods that you must chew; then there is touch, sex, connection, sleeping well 7-8 hours a night, optimism, lifelong learning, a spiritual practice, meditation, indoor plants, and my favorite: SILENCE. What supplements are good for Neurogenesis? Omega 3's are the very best, then green tea (EGCG), Curcumin and quercetin, followed by ginseng (Eleuthero), ginkgo, tocotrienols and melatonin.

BDNF is an acronym for Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor and as you might have guessed, it is a helpmate for Neurogenesis. It has been dubbed "Miracle Grow for the Brain." It creates new neurons in our hippocampus and is our memory's best friend. It protects existing brain cells, and is the main signaler that turns on Neurogenesis. So, yes it is very important. What is bad for BDNF? Pretty much what is bad for Neurogenesis (see above). What is good for BDNF? Pretty much what is good for Neurogenesis. The big four for BDNF are Omega 3's, EGCG, and curcumin, just like Neurogenesis, then especially good for BDNF? Blueberries.

Other things you might already be doing that are good for BDNF are eating chocolate, eating a lot of fiber and petting a dog (release of oxytocin). Then there is heat stress/cold stress which is not only good for BDNF but for our mitochondria Girls. So, towards the end of your morning shower, turn the water as hot as you can for 30 seconds then to as cold as you can for 30 seconds. That will wake up the Girls and activate your BDNF and might make you scream as well, making a very exciting start to your day.

Newsbrief: Seven year follow up shows lasting cognitive gains from meditation: The Shamatha Project: Endorsed by the Dalai Lama and led by researchers at UC Davis, Center for Mind and Brain. The more diligent the practice, the more impressive the gains (cognition and attention) and long-time meditators had the most gains. My advice: If you already meditate, don't stop.If you don't meditate, start!

Fiber is super important not only to BDNF, but to our microbiome. Gut bacteria eat fiber to create a fatty acid called butyrate which in turn will decrease inflammation and increase BDNF. Here is a very short primer on fiber: There are two types, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber forms a gel (soft and sticky) when mixed with liquid and can be found in psyllium, bran, beans, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens and flax. Insoluble fiber ("roughage") passes through the intestine largely intact and adds bulk to waste. This kind of fiber can be found in whole grains, most beans and lentils and pretty much in what is already in soluble fiber. Most fiber foods contain both soluble and insoluble, so don't go bonkers trying to get your fiber foods into one category or another.

Here are foods that are both soluble and insoluble: Flax, hemp and chia seeds, berries, vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, root vegetables like onions, yams and jicama, almonds, peas, green beans, cauliflower and beans. Make sure you get 25-30 grams of soluble/insoluble fiber every day. (Google "grams of fiber in foods" to figure out how you can accomplish this.) Most Americans are woefully under-fibered. Organic psyllium husk is one of my favorite fibers. Start with small amounts so you don't bust a gut.

Concerning the health of your Microbiome: Here is how to totally decimate your microbiome.(I suggest you do just the opposite. . .) Eat a lot of processed foods, dine on CAFO animals who live their lives standing in their own poop day after day and die a miserable death in the upright position unless they are inhumanely slaughtered before this can happen.

But my smart readers know this already. What you might not be aware of are other, more subtle things that may destroy your microbiome and keep your leaky gut from ever healing and these are the emulsifiers in processed foods. Read labels from now on (esp. in gluten-free products) and avoid these: Polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other "gums." Of course, these emulsifiers are all approved by the FDA, but 80% of the food additives approved by the FDA lack appropriate testing information that would reveal the amounts that can be safely consumed before suffering health consequences. (Reproductive Toxicology, 2013).

Newsbrief: Eating less enables lemurs to live longer. This is the first study performed on sort-of-human primates. The previous studies have all been done on our BFF's, the mice, the worms and the fruit flies, all of whom generously albeit without any informed consent, continue to sacrifice their lives for us. "Chronic calorie restriction consists in eating a reduced but balanced diet from early adulthood onward." The grey mouse lemur "has a lifespan of about 12 years which makes it a very good model to study aging." I will cut to the chase: The calorie restricted lemurs lived on average 50% longer than their normo-eating friends. Moreover, they retained their cognition, there was a reduction in cancer and diabetes and they looked younger. (Sounds good, doesn't it. One wonders - but how happy are they? Are they healthy but sad? Are they looking good but don't care? Do they still desire face lifts? Do they dream of lemur versions of big piles of pasta carbonara?)

There are many names for sugar: Cane sugar, Satan, fructose, Beelzebub, barley malt, The Prince of Darkness, maltodextrin, the anti-Christ. Sugar is sugar is sugar, folks, and it's all bad. There are 56 names for sugar, many of which are designed to confuse you into thinking it's not sugar. Yet, sugar remains a potent form of evil for your body and your health. Even honey and maple syrup which have been given the slippery label of "natural" in that they both come from nature (bees and trees) aren't that great for you either. One of my favorite Momisms: "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it will still be a pig."

Even worse than any form of sugar - natural or manufactured - are any of the artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet (aspartame), the one found in Diet Coke and in the blue packet. Research over the years has proven that these so called diet drinks will make you gain weight and will actually create heart disease. The Framingham Heart Study showed that people who drink one or more cans of diet soda every day face triple the risk of stroke and dementia as compared to people who never drink it at all.

This leads us to the only permissible sweetener, stevia. Have all you want, really. If you have a sweet tooth (like I do) find a stevia that you like without any added sugars and have a go at it. My preferred one is Sweet Leaf Stevia, the powdered form. All it has in it is stevia leaf, silica (which makes it not cake together) and inulin, which is a prebiotic fiber and is actually good for you.

Yes, NuNatural's Stevia tastes really great. You know why? Because the label says it has not only stevia in it but maltodextrin. Uh oh. Maltodextrin is a sugary carbohydrate which scores a glycemic index of 130, which is twice higher than that of white cane sugar which has a score of 65. Also, maltodextrin is derived from corn which is 99.9% GMO unless it says GMO-free on the label, which NuNaturals doesn't.

p>Stevia is actually good for you. "Clinical research resented at the 2016 meeting of the Endocrine Society examined the effects of stevia consumption among a group of 40 subjects with metabolic syndrome. All subjects followed the same low-calorie diet for 4 months. But they were also randomly assigned to receive either a stevia snack 4 times a week or a sweet of their choosing only once a week.

The researchers evaluated every metabolic metric under the sun, from BMI and waist size to blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, hormone levels and liver function. In the end, the control group (i.e. the sweet of their choosing once a week group) did lose some weight, but the stevia group not only lost more weight, but had big reductions in a long list of risk parameters, like blood pressure, fasting glucose, oxidized LDL and leptin levels." (Dr. Craig Reese, Newsletter, April, 2018)

It seems that stevia's unique glycosides  the compounds that make it sweet  are uniquelycapable of reducing metabolic risk. Plus the plant also boasts roughly 100 additional nutrients and phytochemicals with powerful antioxidant and medicinal properties. Hey, it's the new health food, along with coffee and chocolate!

Newsbrief: New Health Benefits discovered in berry pigment. This from the University of Eastern Finland, April 5, 2018. Berry pigments otherwise known as anthocyanins, increase the function of the sirtuin 6 enzyme in cancer cells. This opens up new avenues for cancer treatment. Does this mean that Big Pharma will seize all the berry crops in the US, tweak a molecule to avoid lawsuits (calling it something like berramyacin?) and then resell the crankenberries back to us in a pretty blue capsule, charging us their usual outrageous prices? "Sirts" are the good guys and I will write more about them in a later newsletter. In the meantime, eat a lot of berries. While you still can...

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