By Dr. Seth LaFlamme
As a man, I can only pretend to fully understand what it’s like: to go to the store, only to leave without the one thing you went there for; or to have to have everything written down or else it’s gone forever. To lose the sharpness of the mind you have come to count on your whole life. Sounds like a real bear.
If you think about it, though, this would be a real hamper to survival for both mom and baby. If mom couldn’t think quickly when a sabre toothed tiger was coming in fast, both would be dinner instead of flourishing happy alive humans. So perhaps ‘mommy brain” is not what nature intended, but something else.
Being the science geek I am, as I was reading “Grain Brain” by Dr. David Perlmutter (mind blowing), something he wrote really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but the brain is mostly fat (~60 by weight) and 25% of that weight is cholesterol. The references in his book are a mile thick, and I’m not going to turn this into a research paper.
The Brain is mostly fat….hmmm.
Cholesterol aside (you’ve got to read his book), it got me thinking about Omega 3’s, which are an essential fat (meaning your body has a hard time making it) and another large percentage of the brain. Particularly, DHA which is the stuff myelin is made of (the stuff that coats your nerves so they can work correctly and quickly), which comprises about 15% of the brain’s total fat content. DHA is vital for speedy and proper brain and nerve function.
This got me wondering: if mom’s diet is deficient in DHA, where does the baby get it?
From healingourchildren.net I found this elegant summary:
You may have heard the folk wisdom that during pregnancy the baby will take what the baby needs from the mother's body. While it's easy to brush off this statement as untrue, it is actually partially true. If the mother is not getting proper nutrients during pregnancy, the baby will actually "steal" the nutrients she has stored in her glands, bones, and muscles, depleting the mother's limited supply of such nutrients.
For instance, a mother who is not getting enough calcium during pregnancy is probably not going to have a brittle-boned baby. Instead, the baby is going to leach its necessary calcium supply directly from its mother's body, which will leave the mother with weaker bones and a much higher risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis in the future.
So Baby is the new generation. Mom’s biological priority is to ensure Baby GETS what Baby NEEDS at ANY COST. If a baby can leach calcium or iron from the mother’s body, what about DHA?
From a study published in Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology indexed in PubMed called Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy by Coletta et al: “Omega- 3 fatty acids are transferred from the mother to the fetus during pregnancy, thereby depleting maternal stores.” And according to Dr. Serallach, another expert in prenatal and postnatal nutrition, “On average, a mom’s brain shrinks 5 percent in the prenatal period, as it supports the growth of the baby.”
Holy Cow! And what is the effect of all this?
From good ol’ Wikipedia (The Docosohexaenoic Acid page): “DHA deficiency is associated with cognitive decline.” Furthermore, “DHA levels are reduced in the brain tissue of severely depressed patients.”
WHOA! Mommy brain and postpartum depression? Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
So, there are all the links: Baby takes what baby needs. Baby needs LOTS of DHA to build a healthy brain. There is LOTS of DHA in mommy’s brain. If mommy isn’t eating DHA, baby will get what baby needs…seemingly, in this case, from MOMMY”S BRAIN. Mommy is left with Mommy Brain. Sound like a zombie movie at this point? I know many moms who would certainly say it feels like one.
Listen, this is not a peer-reviewed research paper. This blog post is merely a thought experiment that turned into something more. It really looks like there’s something to this.
How much DHA per day? Experts differ in their recommendations, but anywhere from 300-890 mg seem to be the range. Since there’s no drawback to higher levels, I would stick with a higher number.
Which one? There are scads of brands to choose from. I wouldn’t go with the off brand from the local discount store. After a lot of research, we have determined the very best in the business to be Nordic Naturals, which is what we carry in our office (and we carry their top pharmaceutical grade product). It’s what we recommend and what we take ourselves. Now we have another reason why! So you can get it right here.
Is this a cure to mommy brain? No. Are there compelling links suggesting getting your DHA would be a REALLY good idea? Emphatically yes.
If you’re pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or are still struggling to get your mental chops back, getting enough DHA is a really good idea. And who knows? Maybe you’ll start remembering what you went into the kitchen for, or that Tommy’s baseball game got rescheduled for Sunday. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll remember that mommy can’t take care of anybody if she doesn’t take care of herself first and get your butt back to your favorite chiropractor for nervous system reboot STAT J
Either way, I hope you enjoyed the ride and got a little food for thought.
Happy clearer thinking!
By Dr. Seth LaFlamme
When you look at the images below, one is familiar and the other…maybe not so much. When people find out we have extensive postgraduate training in pediatric chiropractic, people often say, “But kids don’t have bad backs!”
On the other hand, we don’t think too much of the image of the middle-aged guy holding his back and grimacing except to maybe think, “Welcome to the club.” The question is, how does one end up joining this club, or the migraine club, or the bum knee club, or the ADHD club (you get the idea)?
That dude on the left used to be a kid once, maybe something like the boy on the right. If he’s like most Americans, this isn’t his first go-round with his bad back. While some people can seriously injure themselves in one major traumatic incident like a car accident or a serious fall, chances are this guy—let’s call him Ed—chances are Ed had a story that went pretty much like this:
Ed was born in a hospital, pretty much like every other American kid. If you asked his mom, she would say he had such a round, perfect head from the C-Section that brought him into the world (she will likely not remember the odd sensation of her body being lifted slightly off the table from the fairly aggressive force required to pull Ed out. Ed was a little blue and didn’t start breathing right away, but a few smacks on the butt, and he was crying like a champ. No harm done. All of his baby pictures show him with his head cocked a little to the left side. Ed also crawled a little weird, scooting on half his bottom like a crab baby. The pediatrician said it was a normal variant, and everybody thought it was cute. As he got older, Ed would still wet the bed from time to time and wake up crying with severe pains in his legs. They figured he’d “grow out of” the bedwetting and the “growing pains” too. Nobody thought to question why it should hurt to grow, and why only in the legs, and sure enough, it seemed to eventually go away. Later on, Ed really developed a passion for football and in junior high made the school team. He seemed to sprain his right ankle a lot in practice, and one time got hit really hard from the side and twisted his right ankle and his knee really bad. The coach told him to “walk it off,” so he did. From then on, he ran a little funny with his right foot splayed out a little farther than it should be, but he still made varsity by the time he was a sophomore in high school. He would often have to ice his knee after games, and his back would be a little sore after hard running with full pads on. Ed soon got an after school job to save up for a car so he could go out on dates. We worked for a local landscaper raking, digging and lifting heavy bags of mulch all day on Saturdays and some afternoons when he didn’t have football practice. After a heavy day of work, he would sometimes wake up with excruciating cramps in his right calf. By his senior year, he would sometimes get a little tingling in the side of his right foot. With more schoolwork, he also would get headaches whenever he tried to read for more than half an hour. As a result, he mostly avoided doing homework, and his grades were so-so. He skipped on the idea of college, because he figured even more book time would be unbearable, so he got a job in construction. He was great at his trade, but started feeling really sore in his back especially working on ladders. Sometimes it would seize up on him, and he found that if he twisted it just right, there would be a huge pop, and he could get it moving again, downing a couple ibuprofen to take the edge off the next few days while the episode passed. This went on without much change every ten or twelve months for years. Ed started his own business as a builder, got married (Wife, Jennifer), had 2 kids (a boy, Reggie and a girl, Sophia), started taking them to various practices, concerts and recitals. Then one day, after winning a race at her track meet, Sophia ran and jumped into Ed’s arms. She had done this ever since she was big enough to walk, and it was one of Ed’s favorite things to catch his little girl, give her a big hug and twirl her around like a princess. This time Ed could barely keep his feet, let alone twirl. The searing pain shot all the way down his right leg and exploded across his back just above the belt. He hobbled home, and after a few days when it didn’t get much better, he went to his doctor, and was prescribed muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories. These helped a little, and after a couple more days, he was able to get back to work. By this time, he had a crew working for him, so he was able to take it a little easier, even though it bugged him to do so. In the meantime, less activity without a change in diet meant Ed was gaining weight, and his blood sugar was starting to creep up (unbeknownst to him). The inflammation from high blood sugar started to push up his blood pressure and cholesterol as well. As Reggie and Sophia started thinking about college, Ed started noticing that every day his back was sore, regardless of staying off ladders at work, and he had to stay in the shower with the spray on his back until the hot water started to run out just to be able to move enough to start his day…the twisting trick didn’t work at all anymore. As he was able to do less and less without pain, he lost some of the impressive strength he had always relied on from his football days that carried him through many a twelve hour day trying to get a job done on time. He avoided heavy lifting to try not to injure his back, but one day when half his crew came down with a nasty stomach flu, he had to jump in and run shingles up a ladder himself. The exertion felt good, and he was happy to be getting his hands dirty. He got home that night bone tired but feeling like a million bucks. After a quiet dinner together with Jennifer, (The kids were away at a youth group outing) they sat down to watch their favorite show together (Game of Thrones) and hit the sheets. Ed was out like a light. At 2:49 AM Ed sat bolt upright with the worst pain he had ever felt stabbing him in the back and searing down his right leg. Jennifer had to help him out to the car to get the Emergency Room. He wet his pants on the way there, and again in the waiting room, and he noticed his inner thighs and crotch area were feeling numb. The doctor told him he had a massive disc herniation in his low back causing something called cauda equine syndrome, and he would have to go in for emergency surgery to remove the herniated disc material and remove the back portion of the bones (laminectomy) to relieve pressure on the nerves to try to restore his feeling and bladder function. The surgery went without complications, and over time, Ed recovered, and was thankfully able to control his bladder again…the doctors said it was very lucky that he didn’t wait to come in, or he could have lost function permanently. The pain in his leg was gone, but he had residual numbness in his right outer leg and foot and his back pain was still about the same, if not a little worse. It was also in the hospital they found his blood sugar to be well over 100 fasting and his cholesterol and blood pressure going through the roof. They put him on metformin for the pre-diabetic condition, blood pressure meds and statins. More time passed, Ed’s blood numbers kept needing higher doses of medication, and Ed wasn’t always the best at remembering to take the pills. Over time, he started to forget what day the game was, the name of his current client, and other small things that were never a problem for him (a potential side effect of statins medication). He would often joke that at least he didn’t forget his anniversary or his own name. He mostly supervised at work, which was OK, because he had lots of work, and two crews to keep an eye on, so he did a lot of driving and sitting figuring estimates. His weight kept going up, and his back started hurting a lot worse from all the sitting. Finally, it got so bad, he was only sleeping three or four hours a night. He went back to the doctor, and was recommended to get another surgery on his back…a spinal fusion this time. Unfortunately, this surgery was not so successful, and Ed had to start walking with a cane, as his right leg was getting weak and his back couldn’t take unsupported walking without fairly intense pain. By this time, Sophia and Reggie were away at college, and Ed and Jennifer drove a lot to their college games, and ate a lot more stadium and diner type food than usual. Ed started feeling pressure in his chest, and a little difficulty breathing at times. The day of Reggie’s college graduation came, and on the drive up there, Ed suddenly felt pain in his left arm and a massive pressure in his chest like an elephant was sitting on him. Ed spent the day of his son’s graduation being treated for a massive heart attack.
My big question to you is: when did Ed join the club? What you answer to this question is directly related to why we are so passionate about seeing children in our office, and why we have over 150 hours of postgraduate training in Chiropractic Pediatrics from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). You see, Ed used to be a little boy, much like the one in the picture at the top of this article, but little signs of trouble were never noticed or corrected until they became a huge problem. We can help kids like Ed, or kids like yours. In short, we can intervene early, before this whole familiar story plays out and change it. We can help your kids grow up without your problems. We all want something better for our kids. It’s what drives most of us through harrowing days at work and taking on second mortgages to pay for college. Here at Great Works Chiropractic, we also want something better for your kids. You just have to bring them in to see how we can give them a new story with a much happier ending than poor Ed.
This story could just have easily been a little girl with colic who developed severe menstrual pain in her teens and struggled to conceive and start a family, or a boy with ear infections who developed severe migraines and had such poor balance as a senior that he fell and broke his hip. The specifics are played out in millions of different ways all across the United States. The exciting thing is that we have an opportunity today and every day to rewrite the future.
March is Kids’ Month here at Great Works Chiropractic, so keep your eyes open for our video on pediatric warning signs that they may need to get checked by a pediatric chiropractor coming soon.
We proudly service patients from
South Berwick, Berwick, North Berwick , Eliot, Rollinsford, Dover, York and Somersworth.
Find out the latest about office happenings, and find informative articles here.