Nourishing Your Brain with Ayurveda: Tips to Keep Your Brain Young and Healthy

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a brain disorder affecting the parts of the brain controlling thought, memory and language. About 4.5 million older Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s. The number of cases are expected to quadruple by 2050. Ayurveda, the original health science of India, offers much needed knowledge on how to reverse the aging trends, even in cases of brain deterioration such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Early detection provides a greater opportunity to delay or reverse the existing symptoms of aging disorders. Maharishi Ayurveda, a systematic revival of Ayurveda, offers a comprehensive system of effective interventions.

Detection begins with a consultation with an Ayurvedic health expert using the ancient technique of Ayurvedic pulse assessment. This will help identify specific imbalances in the body which can predispose an individual to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. This individual diagnosis is a powerful tool for designing an individualized treatment program and home recommendations.

Factors Affecting Alzheimer’s

Drugs, alcohol, stress, the buildup of toxins and poor nutrition are all factors whose effects accumulate over time and contribute to the degeneration of our brain’s ability to function properly. While available drugs have been shown to be somewhat effective in reducing some aspects of cognitive decline, changes in diet and lifestyle remain the only proven means of affecting the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s.

Don’t Let Your Brain “Dry Up”

The thousand year-old texts of Ayurveda indicate that with advancing age, the brain and body gradually become more agitated and dry. Alarik Arenander, Ph.D, a UCLA-trained neuroscientist with degrees in Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology, and Neuroscience, notes that Alzheimer’s is often associated with marked shrinkage of the brain. “The ‘drying’ effect of Alzheimer’s”, says Arenander, “must be remedied by proper diet, digestion and routine. This is the specialty of Ayurveda.”

Ayurvedic experts can offer individualized recommendations to regain balance in the physiology and nourish the brain in an effort to counteract the brain’s natural “drying” influence and establish an optimum level of mental and physical function.

In addition, Ayurvedic treatments and massages help to increase lubrication and stability and sustain quality of functioning, thereby decreasing drying, agitation and distruption of body and mind. These treatments also remove accumulated toxins and impurities which are associated with the degeneration of optimal functioning of the mind and body. The traditional Panchakarma treatments of Ayurveda are the only known means of effectively removing fat-soluble toxins from the body. Otherwise these toxin remain in the body for up to 30 years and can be passed on to one’s children.

Ayurvedic Tips to Nourish Your Brain

  • Stay physically active: Recent studies suggest that exercise which raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes several times a week can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. One study, conducted at the University of Chicago, looked at two groups of mice. One group was allowed to exercise and the other was not. The brains in the physically active mice had 50 to 80 percent less plaque than the brains of the sedentary mice. In addition, the exercising mice produced significantly more of an enzyme in the brain that prevents plaque.
  • Mental activity: stay mentally alert by reading, playing cards, crossword puzzles and writing.
  • Eat a wide variety of green vegetables and include milk products (only milk contains significant levels of B12 which is absolutely essential for proper nervous system function) in your diet. If you are feeling mentally weak and are experiencing memory loss, have your doctor check your vitamin B levels, especially vitamin B1
  • Include plenty of antioxidants in your diets. Free radicals and oxidative stress are major factors in premature aging. Include plenty of organic fruits and green vegetables in your diet.
  • Include high quality oils in your diet. It is good to sauté spices such as tumeric and black pepper when you use oils. Your brain is composed of over 50% fat. Nervous system tissue is most nourished by oils, especially ghee, or clarified butter. Organic ghee and olive oil are the best cooking oils. Tumeric and freshly ground black pepper have the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which helps lubricate the brain. In India, where tumeric is used in great quantity, the rate of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases are very low.

The treatments and techniques of Ayurveda are based on age-old wisdom of how to maintain perfect balance in the physiology. This ancient wisdom sheds light on how to maintain and promote healthy, youthful brain functioning.

Learn more about Ayurvedic programs to optimize brain functioning at The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Support Brain and Heart Health With Ayurveda

While most people now understand that cholesterol is not uniformly “bad”, not everyone knows that cholesterol, a fatty acid produced in the liver, is actually essential to many bodily functions. Without cholesterol the body could not build cell membranes or synthesize vitamin D, or hormones.

Western medicine teaches us that cholesterol is available in two forms: high-density cholesterol (HDL) (“good” cholesterol) and low-density cholesterol (LDL) (“bad” cholesterol).

LDL (Bad) Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible.

HDL (Good) Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries. It is believed that HDL acts as a scavenger, carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and eliminated from the body.

From the Ayurveda perspective, cholesterol is only “bad” when it is out of balance. It is “good” when it is balanced, supporting and lubricating the body’s numerous circulatory channels, known as the shrotas. There are many kinds of shrotas. There are micro-shrotas, which carry nutrients to the cells and waste from the cells. There are larger shrotas, such as the arteries and veins, which carry blood to and from the heart. And there are delicate shrotas that lead to our brain.

For our physiology to be healthy and functioning well, all of these shrotas must be flexible and elastic. When in balance, cholesterol plays an important role in lubricating and maintaining our shrotas.

“Good” cholesterol becomes “bad” cholesterol when we have large amounts of ama in our system. Ama is the sticky waste product of poor digestion, absorption and metabolism. It accumulates as a toxin in the fat tissues. Ama thatis present for a very long time and is not cleansed from the system begins to spread throughout the body, and blocks the important channels of circulation, nourishment and detoxification.

For years, high levels of “good” cholesterol and low levels of “bad” cholesterol has been linked to a healthy heart. In December of 2013, a study was released linking high levels of “good” cholesterol and low levels of “bad” cholesterol to good brain health as well. It was established that high “bad” cholesterol levels were linked to brain deposits that cause Alzheimer’s. A healthy ratio of good vs. bad cholesterol was associated with lower levels of the plaque in the brain. An unhealthy ratio was associated with higher levels of plaque. The findings were independent of age or presence of specific a specific gene that has been linked to some forms of Alzheimer’s.

Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol: Diet and Purification

Diet

To lower “bad” cholesterol Ayurveda recommends a two-pronged approach: Improve digestion and follow a Kapha-balancing diet to enhance fat metabolism.

A Kapha-pacifying diet favors bitter, astringent and pungent foods. Astringent foods include dried beans such as lentils, split mung dhal, and garbanzo beans. Astringent tastes also include many vegetables, such as the cruciferous family (brussels’ sprouts, food52_06-12-12-5121broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower) and fruits such as apples and pears. Bitter foods include greens such as spinach, chard, kale and mustard greens. The Kapha-pacifying grains include barely, quinoa, amaranth and oats (whole oats, not processed oats.) Avoid sweet tastes, including rice, wheat, pasta, breads, and sweet milk products. Avoid sour foods such as sour fruit (lemons), yogurt, cheese, tomatoes, vinegar, salad dressings, ketchup, mustard and pickles. Oddly enough, while it is recommended to avoid yogurt, digestive lassi, made of yogurt and water, turns out to be good for balancing cholesterol. Avoid sweet lassi and mango lassi and opt for the digestive lassi. Favor warm foods cooked with small amounts of ghee or olive oil.

Purification

Detoxification is a natural body process to reduce ama. Our natural ability to detox, however, can become compromised when our system becomes overloaded from stress, poor diet and environmental toxins. So what can we do to support the body’s natural process of detoxification? Panchakarma, the traditional purification treatments of Ayurveda, help remove ama from deep within the tissue beds. Cleansing and detoxifying the body also helps build up our natural digestive fire, which itself naturally burns ama from the body.

For more information on Panchakarma, the traditional purification and detoxification treatments of Ayurveda, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center:

www.theraj.com

 

 

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DDT and Alzheimer’s — Ayurveda Can Help!

A recent study published in JAMA Neurology found that patients with Alzheimer’s had four times as much blood levels of DDT as healthy people. While the findings are not conclusive, researchers believe the chemical increases the chance of Alzheimer’s and may be involved in the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, which contribute 6a00d83451e0d569e201156e4f87e6970c-800wito the death of brain cells. Even though DDT has been banned in the US since 1972, the average American still ingests small amounts of the toxic chemical every day.

The good news? The ancient science of Ayurveda provides a means to remove this harmful chemical from the body.

Current mainline thinking is that the only way to eliminate DDT from the body is to let nature take its course. DDT’s half-life — the time it takes to naturally fall to half it’s original value — is 2 to 15 years. But a published research study conducted on the traditional Ayurveda detoxification treatments at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center in Fairfield, IA showed that 50% of DDE levels (DDE is the by-product of DDT found to be linked to Alzheimer’s) can be eliminated through a 5-day treatment program. A good investment in one’s future! To read more about the study visit http://theraj.com/rajresults/index.php

(If PK is not in your budget, daily massage with organic sesame oil can be helpful. See more tips at the end of the blog.)

DDT

DDT is harmful to the nervous system and is a known carcinogen. It belongs to a group of chemicals (along with PCBs and dioxins) that are fat-soluble. This means the chemicals adhere to the fat in insects, animals and people. The chemicals remain stored in the fat until their natural dissolution. This can take from 4 to 30 years. Although DDT is no longer made or used in the US, our water, air, soil are so contaminated that the chemical still poses a threat to our health.

Exposure to DDT

DDT and its by-products are persistant, bioaccumulative and can be transported long distances through the atmosphere. They can travel in the water systems and can end up in produce, dairy and meats through irrigation. DDT can build up in sediment in rivers, lakes, and coastal areas, and then accumulate in fish and shellfish. It is still in our soil and can be absorbed by some plants and by the animals or people who eat them. The largest fraction of DDT in a person’s diet comes from fish, meat, poultry, and dairy products. Leafy vegetables generally contain more DDT than other vegetables, possibly because DDT in the air is deposited on the leaves. DDT also comes to us in food from other countries. Infants may be exposed by drinking breast milk.

Removing DDT

The purification treatments of Ayurveda start with a week of “home-prep”, an individually recommended protocol that primes the body to get the most out of the up-coming treatments. One aspect of home prep is a fat-free diet. When the detox treatments begin, pure oils are massaged into the body day after day, penetrating deeper and deeper into the tissues and organs of the body. Because the restrictive diet has reduced the body’s natural fat saturation, the fat-soluble chemicals respond joyously to the pure lipid infusion, detaching from the cells and attaching to the new lipids.  These then get flushed out of the body with daily elimination therapy. To date this is the only proven way to remove fat-soluble toxins from the body.

Avoiding DDT

1. Begin each day with a warm oil massage. Sesame oil is the most penetrating of the oils but those with a more pitta constitution may develop itchy skin or a rash. If you have sensitive skin, try using sweet almond oil, olive oil or coconut oil. Warm the oil slightly before using. Sit for 10 minutes after application and follow with a warm shower.

2.  Favor organic foods, especially organic foods grown in the U.S. Many countries still use DDT to contain malaria. The run-off from spraying can contaminate the water systems and get onto food through irrigation (even into so-called organic farms).

3. Wash all fresh produce thoroughly in water, especially leafy greens, beans, root vegetables, and fruits and berries, to remove soil and any residues of DDT or DDE on the surface of the food.

4. If you are not a vegetarian, choose lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish. Trim excess fat from meat and poultry.

5. Consider a yearly commitment to Panchakarma treatments. A five-day treatment can accomplish what nature takes 2 to 15 years to do.

To learn more about Ayurveda detox and purification programs, visit The Raj website:

www.theraj.com

(Photo of older man with younger woman. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

Healthy Diet, Healthy Brain

Continuing our celebration of fruits and vegetables, it turns out that there is a direct correlation between a healthy diet and a healthy braIn.

Days before  a first-ever G-8 summit on dementia in London, leading English physicians wrote an open letter to the Health Secretary saying that the benefits of diet far outweighed “dubious drugs” in the battle against dementia.  They urged that the best strategy for preventing Alzheimer’s and other memory-affecting diseases was a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil.

The link between diet and healthy brains is not new. Back in 1991 a study at California’s Loma Linda University suggested that meat eaters had double the risk of developing dementia as vegetarians. (No difference was observed between lacto-ovo-vegetarians and vegans.)

Good Diet Key to Regaining Memory

In 2011, researchers from VA’s Puget Sound Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center documented an important link between diet, exercise, and the development of Alzheimers.

According to lead author Laura D. Baker, PhD, for those who are aging normally, regular exercise can help offset the “potential pathological effects of a western-type diet on Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in the brain”.  But for adults who have already have an existing condition of mild cognitive impairment, improvement only came when a change in diet was added to the regular exercise routine. Switching to diet low in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates actually improved memory function.

Results in Only 4 Weeks!

The team found that a diet low in saturated fat and high in foods such as whole grains and vegetables could favorably alter the levels of certain markers for Alzheimer’s in only four weeks. This diet improved visual memory not just for older adults with mild levels of Alzheimer’s disease but for healthy older people too.

While these studies have been small in scope, they all lead to the encouraging conclusion that we do not have to wait for a magic drug to appear on the market to protect us from dementia. Instead there are simple life-style changes that we can make today to keep our brains alert and functioning in good order. By favoring regular exercise and a diet of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and by keeping sugar and refined carbohydrates to a minimum, we can reduce the risk of dementia and at the same time significantly increase our level of physical health and well being. Win/win!

To take a free dosha quiz and find out more about what fruits and vegetables create balance for your physiology, visit The Raj website:

http://www.theraj.com