What is Metabolic and Nutritional Therapy?
As Hippocrates so eloquently put it: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. There is an incredible amount of truth and validity to this statement in that food should be our ultimate source of nutrients…period. Metabolic and nutritional therapy is the process of using a combination of diet, enzymes, and supplements to promote health, including brain health.
Supplements are just that, to supplement a diet that is lacking in nutrients, or to address deficiencies that exist. Given our foods, whether processed or not, are increasingly lacking in adequate nutritional content, the need for nutritional supplementation is continually on the rise. Supplements for brain health are particularly needed as our population lives longer and rates of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s continue to increase in numbers.
The focus of any nutritional therapy in most cases should be to address the underlying metabolic dysfunction, not simply giving a pill to address a symptom. An example of this is building lean body mass and lowering body fat, therefore improving blood sugar handling and brain function, through medical food protocols. The resultant changes made from this type of approach are farther reaching and more sustainable, having a greater impact on brain and body health!
More and more folks are searching for the best supplements to improve brain function. While the increasingly proactive mindset of the general public is encouraging, this is not without its side effects. Metabolic or nutritional therapy, particularly for the brain, is an incredibly vast and complex arena that requires years of study and understanding of brain and body physiology, biochemistry, and laboratory analysis to become proficient at delivering the appropriate protocols for an individual’s specific needs. No two brains are created equal and the needs of one brain are vastly different from the needs of the next; even if those 2 brains are experiencing the same condition (e.g. depression).
How Nutrition Affects the Brain
In their simplest sense, nutrients are chemical messengers and building blocks that allow for all of our body processes to occur. Whether an amino acid creating protein to build muscle or forming a neurotransmitter to direct brain function, an electrolyte such as sodium or calcium allowing for proper nerve conduction, or an antioxidant neutralizing the damaging effects of oxygen metabolism; what goes into our bodies determines how well our brains work! That said, too much or too little of any of these critical nutrients can have devastating consequences and proper direction of supplementation is highly advisable.
Supplements for Brain Health
As no two brains are created equal, so goes the same reasoning with the understanding that no two supplements are created equal. Brain health supplements are incredibly numerous and varied, and there are frankly too many on the market for any one practitioner to keep up with. That said, seeking out an expert in functional medicine is of paramount importance to ensure you receive the appropriate metabolic evaluation and intervention with the highest quality supplements possible.
The following list includes brain health supplement categories and examples of nutrients in each category:
Medical Foods – Meal replacements designed to reduce inflammation, improve blood sugar handling, increase lean body mass (and burn body fat), and detoxify our bodies and brains.
Fats – Omega fatty acids, particularly the polyunsaturated Omega-3 variety (EPA and DHA), found in fish, certain nuts and seeds, and supplements. Coconut and vegetable oil supplementation are also good for your brain.
Brain Protectors – Antioxidants including glutathione, N-acetylcysteine, acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, Vitamin E, etc.
Miscellaneous Brain Nutrients – Phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine, vitamin D, huperzine A, ginseng, B vitamins, amino acids, and more.
Talk to your provider, or contact us at APEX Brain Centers, to learn which nutrients are appropriate for you and your health care needs.