Dr. Teri Jaklin, ND
For many years, it has been held that we are born with a finite number of neurons, and that over time these neurons die and cannot be replaced – the slow burn of neurodegeneration. Brain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s made for a dismal diagnosis and conditions that resulted in neurological decline such as MS, stroke, and traumatic brain injury meant a lifetime of struggle and slow decline. And there has been absolutely no pharmacological intervention to correct brain decline.
Well times have changed, science has marched on, and we can really believe that your brain can actually recover.
The basic fact that we are all suffering from neurodegeneration just by virtue of getting older, and statistically if you live to be 85, the chances of developing Alzheimer’s are 50% – both provide compelling reasons to do whatever we can to nurture the brain.
Here are five points for your everyday health plan. Points that will get and keep your brain on track.
Abundant studies support the protective role of olive oil, coconut oil and salmon oil; the prebiotic value of foods like asparagus, flax, and dandelion greens to an every healing gut; and of course, the high sulforaphane content of broccoli which makes it a powerful brain antioxidant. And there’s more – don’t forget about turmeric, kale, and avocado among others.
Your brain is 75% water, so it stands to reason that drinking water would be a good thing. Include a couple of cups of green tea too. In addition to its antioxidant value, the levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA are increased by L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea.1
The second brain
Beyond its role in the assimilation of nutrients and elimination of waste, the gastrointestinal system (GUT) also produces neurotransmitters that affect our brain health. It is often referred to as the ‘Second Brain’ – this connection becomes important when we realize that regulating one system can benefit the other. For example, taking ten minutes to close your eyes and breathe deeply in and slowly out will lower the stress response and lowering the stress hormone cortisol will help to optimize digestion! (and sleep, and mood, and more).2
In a world were ‘exercise’ has become a dirty word, as little as 30 minutes per day can change your brain in many ways. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain, increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and helps release many hormones that nourish the growth of brain cells. Exercise stimulates brain plasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells. Recent research demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brain—making it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.3
Drop the Sugar
A diet high in sugar can be damaging to the brain by increasing inflammation, oxidative stress, and promoting poor insulin regulation. While we’re at it, don’t forget simple carbs too – bread, muffins, rice, and potatoes all increase blood sugar as well! Stick to whole foods, fatty fish, lots of veggies, a few nuts and seeds, and small amounts of fruit and gluten-free grains.
The tides are shifting on the way we understand the brain and what it is capable of. Remember, neurodegeneration happens, even without a diagnosis. Start your brain recovery plan today.
Dr. Teri Jaklin BA, ND, IFMCP is a Naturopathic Doctor and founded the Waterdown Clinic of Naturopathic Medicine in 2002. She is a skilled general practitioner with a passionate commitment to the foundations of naturopathic medicine, treating people of all ages and health status. Areas of special interest include Multiple Sclerosis and Complex Chronic Illness.
With a diagnosis of her own, Teri has been active in the MS community since the mid-’80s. Today she coaches individuals and groups on living well with MS as well as working with people in private practice to reduce the impact of MS and other chronic illness, on their lives.
Prior to becoming an ND, she spent 10+ years in the frantic world of corporate public relations and communications where she learned first-hand what 70 career hours per week can do to you and your health.
She strongly believes that knowledge of the processes of health and disease is not proprietary and empowers individuals and organizations with programs that make a palpable difference in how we engage and perform in our lives.
Teri is an enthusiastic student of the healing power of nature, and a person’s ability to access their own health potential and communicates this regularly in both clinical practice and in her lecturing and public speaking.
She draws on all aspects of her education and experience to create opportunities that impact the lives of those looking to restore and maintain health. Through her work she reaches medical professionals and students, the general public as well as corporate and private groups.
Achieving and maintaining good health is both complex and dynamic and can be profoundly impacted by some very simple choices. Teri believes that wherever you are on the continuum of health, there is a way to chose a path to improve your overall sense of wellbeing!
Teri completed her undergrad studies at University of Waterloo, and her ND studies at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine with interim studies at the Universität Mannheim, Ryerson University, University of Guelph, and the Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard University. She is certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine, an organization committed to changing the way modern medicine is practiced.
Her efforts have been recognized by her peers with the New Practitioner of the Year Award (2002) and an OAND Leadership Award (2012).
- Nathan PJ1, Lu K, Gray M, Oliver C. The neuropharmacology of L-theanine (N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent. J Herb Pharmacother. 2006;6(2):21-30.
- Monnazzi,P, Leri O, Guzzardi L, Mattioli, D and Patacchioli r. Anti-stress effect of yoga-type breathing: modification of salivary cortisol, heart rate and blood pressure following a step-climbing exercise. Stress and Health. 2002; 18(4):195-200
- Molteni R1, Zheng JQ, Ying Z, Gómez-Pinilla F, Twiss JL. Voluntary exercise increases axonal regeneration from sensory neurons. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jun 1;101(22):8473-8. Epub 2004 May 24.