Those who have followed my work over the past few years know I am very focused on neurological and cognitive health. There is a pervasive epidemic of nervous system and brain dysfunctions worldwide. In fact, it has been estimated that about 1/4 of the western population is neurologically imbalanced. That accounts for at least 25% of the population. This may seem startling, or even a gross miscalculation, but when we look out onto the world, observing common place behaviors and the decisions, or lack thereof, that people make, it becomes much more obvious. This imbalance can be attributed to numerous factors, but the most basic is the foods we consume, the lifestyle activities we participate in, and the toxins we are exposed too.
There are a few core factors of neurological health that require addressing, and I’d like to focus our attention on myelin or myelination (myelinogenesis). Myelination refers to the outgrowth and development of the myelin sheath. This sheath acts as the shielding mechanism that wraps around our nerve fibers (axons), helping the transfer of information-packets from each neuron of the brain and nervous system by electric signal. This shield is essential for proper nerve function and healthy body mechanics. It insulates our delicate nerve fibers from oxidative stress that commonly takes place due to food, mental stress, electro-magnetic pollution, and chemical toxins.
When our myelin becomes oxidized, our nervous system malfunctions, initiating age-associated debilitation, behavioral instabilities, and cognitive impairment. This is the case with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Mercury toxicity is known to contribute to demyelination; heavy metals such as mercury begin to scrape layers away from this fatty tissue, eventually opening up our nerve fibers to the inner-atmosphere of our body(oxidation). It is essential for short and long term health to implement strategies to not only repair this insulator but increase its development.
A large body of strategies and research show how we can increase and repair myelin production,which I document in my book The Life Food Peak Performance System. Daily engagement in mental activity and full body movement patterns is the most effective non-food related aspect of this puzzle. When we move in new and unfamiliar ways we encourage new myelin patterns to take place. When we learn new skills and intellectual ideas, we increase neurosynaptic connections which are predicated on myelination.
The most important foods and nutrients for this aspect of longevity are healthy saturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids that have not been denatured or heat treated. The most important minerals are magnesium and sulfur for both neuroplasticity and repairing worn out brain tissue. The most important vitamin is B12 in combination with B9 (folate) and all accompanying B vitamins.
Please consider this excerpt from my book, The Life Food Peak Performance System:
“Myelin is a dominantly fatty substance as one might expect considering its protective function. The lipid/fat content is about 85% dry weight with 15% protein mass and 40% of the overall weight being water. This gives a hint at what form of nutrition enhances myelin production the most. Saturated fats and omega fatty acids comprise a bulk of our myelin’s nutritional support. For this reason, among others I do not support long carried out low-fat diets as higher carbohydrate to lower fat diets tend to produce cognitive impairments if not balanced out accordingly for ones needs.”
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