How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 21)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Minds by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

Part III – Your Brain, Your Body

Chapter 13 – Reversing Disease Makes You Smarter

Braverman reminds us that “almost every illness of the body wears down the brain. The brain burns up when metabolism is out of control; it swells in an inflammatory response to an immune system issue; it dries out as it calcifies from bone density loss; it rusts from exposure to metals and toxins and it gets choked to death from a diminished ” P. 229

“This is why the cascade of poor health is so often experienced in the following order of events.

  • Loss of brain power and speed
  • Loss of visual, verbal, and working memory
  • Loss of complex attention
  • Loss of cognition, abstract thinking ability, inductive reasoning, and spatial orientation
  • Glands and organs of the body begin to fail” p. 230-231

The body ages when brain speed declines– over the next few pages Braverman lists the physical health breakdowns and the brain chemical deficiency. P. 231-233

Then on pages 234-235, Braverman has a chart that shows diseases that affect cognition.

Frequently, he has mentioned things like, “By following the Braverman Protocol, you can take your health into your own hands by first making small but significant lifestyle changes.” P. 236

Dr. Braverman spends extra time on the following: cancer, chronic pain, diabetes, elevated cholesterol levels, hypertension (high blood pressure), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizures and epilepsy, sickle cell disease, stroke, thyroid disorders.” P. 237-248

One interesting thing Braverman said: “Seizures occur on a continuum: anxiety, depression, insomnia and panic are on one end, and epilepsy on the other.” P. 243

“Brain Training reverses tinnitus” according to a Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (2011) p. 243

Dr. Braverman counsels the reader to “work with your doctor to reverse disease and restore your memory.” He says to “start with the very best physical.’ He lists 12 different ultrasounds and scans that he would include in such a physical. P. 248-250

After dealing with life-threatening conditions, Dr. Braverman would use his “steps of care” using the mildest options first and progressing as needed. P. 250-251

Next time we will finish up the last chapter of the book with Braverman’s “Daily SMARTS.”

How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 19)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

 

Chapter 11- Step Five: Natural Hormones Jump-Start Quick Thinking

“The correlation is particularly important because your hormones control different aspects of cognition at each of the developmental stages of life.”

  • Highest peak for memory and attention – just after puberty – increase of hormones
  • Memory and attention wane at hormonal decline – menopause or andropause p. 195-196

“Bioidentical hormone supplements work as nutrients that feed an aging brain.” P. 196

Different hormones decline at different ages.

Nonbioidentical hormones to avoid: Methyltosterone (Android, Testred, Virlon); Conjugated estrogens (Prempro, Premarin); Medroxprogesterone (Provera); Cadaver growth hormones (cadaver-GH); birth control pills Highlighted text box, p. 199

19 Hormones You Need to Know –  From A (Aldosine) to V (Vitamin D) – Braverman introduces the reader to each of these 19 hormones.p. 199-206

Natural Hormones are one choice for menopausal women – “We now know that MCI and menopause are dynamically related.” P. 206 Braverman writes about “what menopause looks like” and that “perimenopause precedes menopause.” Then he speaks of “men menopause too.” P. 208-211

Next time: Step Six – Brain-Balancing Medications

How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 17)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

Step 3 – Diet and Nutrition (continued)

Now for Braverman’s 10 Rules for a Younger, Smarter You:

  1. Add spices to every meal (provides nutrients and antioxidants plus it allows your foods to metabolize better – He lists 24 herbs and spices from A(allspice) to T(turmeric). 1 teaspoon of dried herbs equals 3 teaspoons of fresh. P. 149-152.
  2. The right caffeine improves cognition –should be regular, but not excessive – daily in moderate doses; tea is better than coffee or caffeinated sodas; most research on Green Tea – “can increase metabolism, decrease appetite, and provide energy for exercise. It is also linked to preventing a host of diseases that are associated with cognitive decline, from heart disease to cancer to allergies and diabetes.” These teas have brain-enhancing properties: Chamomile, Lemon balm, passion flower and roobibos. P. 152-154
  3. Eat yogurt every day to enhance brain speed – Braverman recommends low over no fat and Greek version as they are less processed. Avoid flavored varieties because of sugar content. Can create a smoothie adding some fresh fruit. P. 154-155
  4. Lean Proteins create the most brain power – “The foods you eat influence levels of both glucose and insulin, and their levels affect your ability to think clearly.” p. 155-156

Top 5 Brain-Boosting Snacks:  (highlighted text box on p. 155)

  • 1 handful of raw, unsalted nuts
  • 1-2 hard boiled eggs
  • ½ hummus and raw carrots
  • 8 oz. of unflavored low-fat Greek Yoghurt with fresh fruit, ice, and whey protein
  1. Kick the sugar habit. – First – switch to sugar substitute; Then – reduce by half each time to remove from diet. P. 156-157
  2. Choose fiber-filled foods to cleanse your body – good sources: oats, beans, dried peas, fruits, vegetables and legumes. To promote regularity and soft stools: wheat bran, whole grain products and vegetables, especially leafy green. P. 157-158
  3. Drink Water – p. 158
  4. Eat colorful fruits and vegetable to slow cognitive decline: red, orange and yellow, green, blue, violet and purple. P. 158-159
  5. Choose High-Quality Produce – local and organic p. 159-160
  6. Include all three basic food groups (carbs, protein, and fats) at every meal. P. 160-161

Regional Specialties are also brain-boosting agents – Braverman continues this step with charts on dining in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and Europe. He continues with helpful points on what questions to ask when eating out. P. 161-167

Dr. Braverman provides charts of nutrients that make you smarter. He recommends a supplement called “Revertrol.” He calls it “Reverse it all.” P. 168-169

Choose Treats Wisely – but don’t overdo: blueberries, cranberry juice,  dark chocolate, grapes, hops, peanuts, pistachios, pomegranate juice, port and sherry, red grape juice, red wine, white grape juice, white wine. P. 169 – highlighted text box.

Braverman finishes his discussion of Step 3 by listing nutrients that lower stress, fight depression, encourage faster thinking, and boost attention. P. 170-174

He recommends the following supplements for “enhancing exercise performance:” Coenzyme 10, Creatine, Glocosmine and/ or chondroitin, Glutamine, L-carnitine and whey protein. P. 174-175

He also reminds us that “not all supplement brands are equal.”  He has his own brand: Total Health Nutrients available on www.pathmed.com p. 175

Next time we will learn about Step Four: Exercises That Boost Your Brain

 

How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 15)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

Step Two: Smart Life Style Changes

While we may have heard about some of these life style changes, small changes can help.

  • Sleep a minimum of 7 consecutive hours, in a dark room reserved for sleeping
  • Finish eating at least 3 hours before bedtime; drink much during the day, but limit fluids especially caffeinated later in the day
  • Massages – many lengths – 15-90 minutes; many types: aromatherapy, deep-tissue, hot stone, sports, Swedish, trigger point
  • Quiet meditation- including prayer
  • Breathe deeply
  • Music – to improve mood and memory
  • Technology stimulates the brain – Lumosity, Posit Science, Brain Age and Big Brain, Merriam Webster (reviewer’s note: We using Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant Plus as well as Hearbuilder with our clients)
  • Texting is better on cell phones due to the radiation emissions
  • Manage Stress with heart monitor
  • Cranial Electrical Stimulation to treat mood and memory
  • Chelation – detox method

Not all of these are for everyone, but some are for most.

Next time we will cover Step Three: Diet and Nutrition for a Younger, Smarter You

 

How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 14)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

Part II The Braverman Protocol

Step I: Early Testing (Chapter 7)

While our annual health check-ups may be considered comprehensive, an essential organ, the brain, is ignored. Dr. Braverman M.D. uses BEAM (Brain Electrical Activity Mapping) to assess the functioning of the four brain chemical families.

“When your brain is in harmony, the image looks like a full spectrum rainbow; when there are deficiencies or excesses, one color may dominate the picture.” This reports brain voltage and processing speed. “It is like a stress test for the brain.” P. 88, 89 With recent advancements, “PET scans are predicting dementia.” P. 89 and “MRI detects silent disease. (dementia, Alzheimers and silent strokes) P. 90, 91

All of these tests are expensive, “However, by following this program, you will be able to make your brain more resilient without the expense of early detection.” P. 91

Since the BEAM and PET are not available to all due to the high cost, there are other exams that Dr. Braverman uses:

  • TOVA (test of Variable Attention) – 20 minutes – can lead to diagnosis of ADD or MCI
  • Wechsler Memory Scale – verbal, visual and delayed recall memory, attention/concentration
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – many types of intelligence, but not emotional intelligence
  • MMSE (Mini Mental State Exam) – 10 minutes –global cognitive function—orientation, word recall, attention, basic calculation, language, visuospatial registration – screens for Alzheimer’s, less reliable for MCI
  • GAMA (General Ability Measure for Adults)- IQ, self-administered, timed-abstract designs, shapes, colors p. 91-93

Braverman has created ways to define your cognitive baseline at home:

  • http://www.pathmed.com – two important assessments – My Brain Quiz; Age Print Quiz
  • Another on website – Nature Quiz
  • If MCI is greatest health risk: The Braverman Brain Advantage Test (in book p. 95-120 – including help with understanding the score)

Step Two helps us understand Life Style changes that can help maintain our cognitive function. We will summarize that next time.

How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 13)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

Chapter 6 – Identifying IQ Types

Originally, the intelligent quotient (IQ) compared a person’s mental age to his chronological age. With the first IQ (Alfred Binet, French psychologist in 1904) the mental age was divided by the chronological age and multiplied by 100 making 100 the average IQ. Today, with the “deviation IQ” ‘test takers are compared with other people their own age.” With this formula, the average remains 100, “but deviations are assigned a number, which corresponds to a percentile rank.” P. 78

Over the years there have arisen many theories about IQ. In the past, some have considered IQ as fixed, but more and more people see the reality of “neuroplasticity.” Braverman obviously knows this.

He recognizes four main categories of intelligence, “and each one corresponds to one particular brain chemical family.” P. 79

  • Abstract or traditional IQ – schoolwork / ability to synthesize facts, recognize patterns, create new paradigms/ dopamine
  • Creative IQ – ability to incorporate new ideas into establish ways, leading to a change in viewpoint, empathetic/ acetylcholine
  • Emotional IQ –ability to be sensitive to others , sustain long-term relations / GABA
  • Common Sense or Perceptive IQ – ability to understand reality, thrill seekers who keep a low profile, mellow, jump into action when needed / serotonin p. 79, 80

Typical Traits of High IQ

  • Better vocabulary than friends or colleagues
  • Ability to recall information quickly
  • “Reading too much into a story or movie” (perceptive / creative)
  • Like to figure out how things work
  • Interested in discussing opinions (politics, religion)
  • Thinking you are always right
  • Thinking you know more than others
  • Figure out on your own
  • Being a perfectionist
  • Creativity
  • Expressing your opinion often
  • Comfortable conversationalist
  • Skeptical of government or ‘experts’
  • Sensitive to beauty
  • Self-Critical
  • Original ideas and solutions
  • Like to solve puzzles
  • Normally energetic
  • Witty
  • Good sense of humor p. 81, 82

Having a balanced brain can improve all domains of intelligence. P. 82

 Ways to Increase Memory (brain’s bandwidth):

  • Reading and learning a variety of subjects
  • Learn another language
  • Balancing the Brain

Follow me in learning about “The Braverman Protocol” which is covered in Part II of the book.

How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 12)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

Braverman concludes his discussion on Attention:

Signs of Impulsive Behaviors (p. 68-69)

  • Agree to complete something before thinking about if it is possible
  • Interrupt a conversation
  • Make rash / quick decisions
  • Not checking details
  • Reckless spending habits

Tips to Stay on Task (p. 69-70)

  • Make a list of tasks that you can do in a day
  • Use sticky notes
  • Keep an appointment calendar
  • Keep a notebook (or smartphone feature) to record ideas
  • Organize your work and living space
  • Break down larger tasks into easier to manage smaller tasks
  • Follow a consistent routine
  • Reward yourself for completion of tasks
  • Be realistic and don’t expect perfection

Addictions affect Brain Power –as does excessive use of technology.

“Disturbances in the dopamine ‘reward system’ are associated with addictive behaviors. Anything you enjoy doing, but can’t seem to rein in can cause a release of dopamine. “ Initially, you feel a rush, but that wears off. You are driven to repeat the rush and the brain can’t keep up. p. 71

Regarding technology: “It’s the information overload, not the multitasking, that’s the culprit. I find that too much information, even when you are completing only one task at a time, causes distractions.” P. 73

Simple Science Behind This –

  • Prefrontal cortex – same location for decision making and emotions; almost always intertwined.
  • Location of working memory – 7 pieces of information at a time
  • Brain has to decide what to send to long-term memory and what to throw out.

 

Braverman continues by discussing the Types of IQ – we will see that next time.

 

 

How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 11)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

 

 

Chapter 5 – Identifying Attention Problems

“The dopamine family of brain chemicals delivers your brain’s voltage, or power. Voltage is the intensity at which the brain responds to a stimulus and the effectiveness of its ability to process the information that monitors your physical and mental health. Your brain’s power determines your ability to stay focused, stay on task, concentrate, and get a job done.” P. 63

Deficiency of dopamine indicates a brain burning too much or not producing enough. As we age, we typically produce less. We may sleep longer and still wake up tired. We may even feel sluggish.

Low dopamine levels may lead to…(p. 64)

  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Decreased alertness
  • Distractibility
  • Failure to finish tasks
  • Failure to listen and follow instructions
  • Forgetfulness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Poor abstract thinking
  • Poor concentration, especially with numbers

Four Core Forms of Attention Errors: (p. 65-66)

  • Omission – not answering a question or running a red light
  • Commission – inappropriate response, walking into traffic even seeing red light
  • Reaction Time – long delay even with an appropriate response
  • Variability – inconsistent responses

These difficulties lead to the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S.. Attention is a subcategory of memory. Those who have attention problems generally have difficulty with communication.

Communication Difficulties (p. 68)

  • Difficulty finding the right word (dysphasia)
  • Difficulty following or joining a conversation
  • Difficulty initiating a conversation
  • Losing train of thought in middle of conversation
  • Repeating questions, stories, or statements
  • Struggling with vocabulary
  • Using words incorrectly

Next time we will finish the discussion on Attention.

How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 10)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

 

Vision Problems – with MCI these visual signs may appear:

  • Change in vision
  • Difficulty determining color and contrast
  • Difficulty in judging distance
  • Difficulty reading
  • Inability to recognized faces in photographs

Daily Living Problems – with MCI these signs may appear:

  • Difficulty recalling recent events consistently
  • Repetition requested constantly
  • Difficulty handling financial tasks
  • Difficulty performing household tasks without help
  • Difficulty preparing meals, eating or getting dressed
  • Difficulty remembering a short list of items (i.e. grocery list)
  • Difficulty remembering appointments, important events (i.e. birthdays)
  • Difficulty with driving, following directions, finding familiar places
  • Excessive use of ‘to do’ lists
  • Forgetting current season, month or year
  • Losing common items frequently
  • Problems with judgement (i.e. falling for scams, buying inappropriate gifts)
  • Reduced interest in hobbies/activities
  • Trouble learning how to learn something new p. 54-55

Specific Memory Functions (highlighted text p. 55)

These link the different types of memory and long and short term storage of information:

  • Episodic memory-Binding the “what, where, and when” aspects of events. Most common deficit.
  • Procedural memory – Acquiring and later performing cognitive and motor skills.
  • Prospective memory – Remembering to perform an action in future (i.e. appointment, medication)
  • Semantic memory – Remembering facts and general knowledge about the world.

Four Steps of How Memories Are Made

“For every sensory experience we face, the brain has to notice it, store it, match it other knowledge or previous exposures, and then be able to call upon it when necessary.” P. 56

Memories are stored in the prefrontal cortex and broken up into different bits of information, not as one event. Visual pieces are stored in the occipital lobe, words and lessons learned in the parietal and temporal lobes etc. P. 56

  1. Focus attention to maximize every new exposure. Notice every sensory part of the experience.
  2. During exposure, mentally note and connect to a previous experience.
  3. Explore the experience emotionally.
  4. Replay the experience – an hour later and a day later

We lose memories because we don’t get lost in the details. Sometimes memories are distorted. “Perception is colored by past experiences, associated memories, and current social inputs.  p. 57

Tips for Remembering

  1. Look people in the eye. Ask for repetition as needed.
  2. Reread instructions or other reading material.
  3. Repeat aloud.
  4. Minimize interruptions. Prioritize people and events.
  5. Examine a person’s face discreetly during the introduction. Find a distinguishing feature to associate with the name.

Brain Speed Meets Brain Structure

“Besides governing brain processing speed, acetylcholine is also the building block for myelin, a fatty substance that insulates the nervous system, keeping it moist and strong. … With the right amount of myelination, your neuronal circuits fire more rapidly, allowing the neurons to recover faster after signals have been sent, giving brain cells ‘greater bandwidth,’ and boosting their processing capacity. “ p. 60

Smoking is one of the ways people live that affect their memory. Nicotine destroys the brain chemical needed for memory – acetylcholine. P 62

Great news: “Memory loss is reversible.” P. 62

Memory may be the first sign you notice of MCI. P. 62

Next time we will begin the discussion on Attention.

How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 8)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

Chapter 4 – Identifying Memory Problems

Memory is:

  • Central to the entire function of the brain
  • Memory problems occur (typically) when there is a loss in processing speed
  • Related to the loss of Acetylcholine
  • Acetylcholine regulates the processing of sensory input
  • Acetylcholine regulates the ability to access stored information p. 48

People with high Acetylcholine are:

  • Creative
  • Keenly aware of surroundings
  • Able to keep lifelong friends
  • Intelligent
  • Understand other people and their motivations
  • Excellent students
  • Witty
  • Enjoyable to be with p.48

Having too much acetylcholine the brain speed is so fast that you are burning it up. Having too little a person slows physically, mentally and emotionally. We naturally lose this important brain chemical as we age. P. 48

It begins with a general absentmindedness and proceeds with:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Apathy
  • Attention difficulties
  • Difficulty driving
  • Disorientation
  • Easy frustration
  • Excessive and inappropriate flirtation
  • Explosive spells of anger
  • Falling
  • Fearfulness
  • Impulsivity
  • Inconsistency
  • Insomnia
  • Irrational decision making
  • Neglect of household chores
  • Neglect of self-care
  • Restlessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Suspiciousness
  • Trouble understanding the spoken and written language
  • Wandering p. 50

“When you think faster, you can react more effectively to everyday situations.” P. 51

What are the four types of memory?  You may be surprised how Braverman defines these four types.  Next time.