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Mental Health
WAYS TO BOOST YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
It is a fact and a true concern: mental health problems seem to occur more commonly nowadays. They don't affect everybody and those who are affected present themselves in different ways. Some get memory decline, while others get  a general intellectual decline, mood changes, decreased alertness, difficulty in concentrating or a lack of attention. Some get a decline in the "old" memory (inability to remember things from remote past), and in others is a decline in "new" memory (not remembering recent events). Some individuals get a combination of these symptoms, and some combine this with an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

What is worrisome, however, is not that they are happening, but that they are happening at young ages and more frequently.  We see now men and women in their early 40's and even in their late 30’s with some decline in their mental faculties. This is a growing concern.

To make matters worse, and this is a concept you need to remember and tell all the people you know, by the time the "tip of the iceberg" of the memory-intellectual decline shows over the surface, the metabolic damage to the brain is pretty advanced. Therefore, you should not have the attitude of waiting for several symptoms to happen and persist  to then run and get help. It’s definitively not a good idea, and could be a little late.
 
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO THEN?
Should you start taking 10 or 15 different vitamins twice a day? Should you follow the advise of every website you find?

While it is true that certain supplements provide beneficial effects to brain cells, they should NOT be your "primary weapon". Having said that, Choline (either GPC-Choline or CDP-Choline) enhance mental functions and improve cognitive health. Bacopa improves memory, learning and it is beneficial for the neurotransmitters. The compounds known as phospholipids ( phophatidylserine and phosphatydilcoline) are known for decades to provide major benefits to brain function. Over the last few years Curcumin has been studied in length and found to be an excellent brain detoxifier. Ginko is very well known as a brain ‘improver’ as well. The combination of Acetyl-L-Carnitine with Alpha Lipic Acid offers neuro-protection and improvement in mental faculties. DHA and coconut oil are both brain nutrients. Vinpocetine improves blood flow to the brain. But wait!! Don’t just start taking them without having good guidance and advice, be careful. You don’t start here.

Then, where is where you should start?
Although I am showing you this armamentarium of supplements, they are not the  starting point.
The starting point is more simple, and it’s the ABC of brain improvement.
 
THE ABC OF BRAIN IMPROVEMENT.
The ABC is the answer of the essential question: why is brain function declining in the general population? When you understand these questions, you’ll be able to actually improve your brain.

A)  Our food supply does not contain all the vitamins and mineral that it used to contain who knows how long ago. Whether vegetables or fruits, protein or drinks , the food nowadays is depleted from the rich nutrients our grandparents used to get. We can compensate by eating organic or eating more colorful salads, variety of fruits, better quality of meat, but the reality is that we are all too busy and too stressed out to be doing this every single day. The solution: getting high quality vitamins and omega-3 in our health food store. Consult chiropractors, anti-aging doctors, acupunturits, alternative medicine practitioners, but beware of internet sales (don’t let fancy websites full you). Close your laptop and go and talk to you local neighborhood health food store, just like I do. Don’t take many vitamins, and specially, don’t buy them in supermarkets and don’t buy cheap. Your goal is to supply your brain and body with what nature should have placed in your food.

B)  Change your diet. I know you heard that a million times, but it is very important. Disengage from what is known as SAD (the Standard American Diet) and go and read and learn about Mediterranean Diet, if possible gluten-free and dairy free. It is not even worthy to explain how damaging , for the susceptible brain, the excess sugars, fructose, bad fats and food-chemicals can be: you should know that already. Yes, YOU are responsible for every piece of food that enters your mouth, and it is time to disengage and avoid the food and drinks that are metabolic aggressors and embrace the ones that are bring on metabolic benefits.

C)  Achieving hormone harmony.  Now, here we are getting a bit difficult. Hormonal decline wreaks havoc in brain cells and in neurotransmitters. Persistent stress secondary to at job, family, money, etc., causes a decline in adrenal-cortisol and in progesterone, two hormones with very significant impact in brain integrity . The combination of environmental toxins, food chemicals and stress brings down other fundamental hormones like DHEA and pregnenolone, which also have an effect on the proper synthesis and function of brain chemicals, and on brain energy, alertness, thought process, sleep, mood and cognition. Even testosterone and estrogens are known to influence brain cells communication and function. And here is another message: you can not achieve brain balance if your hormones are not in balance. You will not enjoy good mental health if your hormones (Pregnenolone, estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, Progesterone and adrenal-cortisol) are not in harmony. Get your hormones checked: talk to your doctor.  

YOU WILL NOT ACHIEVE GOOD MENTAL HEALTH IF YOU ARE LOW IN NUTRIENTS, LOW IN HORMONES AND YOU EAT BAD FOOD!!

So here is my point and final message. Although there are supplements that improve mental health, as I described above, don’t even touch them. Your first steps should be to bring on the missing nutrients, to change the way you eat (adopting a detoxifying, alkalinizing, and anti-inflammatory diet like a well done Mediterranean diet) and checking and balancing your hormones.

Then and only then you can engage in subsequent steps like taking supplements, doing detoxification,
work in your sleep and your stress, fixing your thyroid, etc. 
 
Daniel Nuchovich, MD
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