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
The skies are gray, the sidewalks are slick and the front steps are caked with ice. Yup, it’s slip and fall season again.
Many of us hit the slushy puddle, pop back up and keep going, hoping nobody saw us. Of course the wet butt gives us away.
But for many of us, a fall is much more serious. As we head into our fifties and beyond, more and more of us are at risk for serious injury, or perhaps a broken hip. For still more of us whose balance may not be quite what it used to be, ice is not even needed to precipitate a fall. It may be nothing more than an uneven bit of ground, and down you go.
That raises some very important questions: What is balance, anyway? Why does it tend to decline as we age? What can we do about it to retain our mobility and independence?
Balance is a very complex interplay of many different systems. Here’s a quick rundown that is by no means complete, but starts to illustrate how many moving parts have to work together exactly right:
So in a nutshell, bad balance isn’t just a trait someone may or may not have. It’s a sign of potentially serious dysfunction in the way the person is perceiving the world, themselves in it, and the position and movement of their own body. There are potentially many other problems that accompany this, as nearly all bodily function involves proprioception and motor output—digestion, behavioral control, and appropriate modulation of pain perception to name just a few.
But let’s focus in on the obvious issues of staying on your feet and avoiding potentially serious injury. If you have bad balance this is a definite concern. Doubly so in the retired population.
So, what can you do to maintain good balance if you have it, or try to keep it from getting worse, or maybe even improve it if yours is not so good?
1: If you don’t use it you lose it! How many times has this been said? It’s one of the most truthful truisms that ever got labeled as truth. That holds especially true for the human nervous system. Be regularly, if not almost constantly, active to the safe limits of your current ability. If all you can do is walk with a cane, then walk the heck out of your neighborhood, and walk to the corner store instead of driving. If you can safely stand on one leg, do it for fun…watch people stare in the grocery line. Dance, move, shovel snow, juggle…do stuff! Living through little screens all day kills the parts of your brain that allow you to survive in the real world….literally. Our bodies are merciless in eliminating what it sees as waste, including unused muscles and parts of the brain. Very quickly, whole arenas of function get torn down and thrown out to conserve energy and raw materials (not such an issue in modern society, but your physiology doesn’t know that).
There are lots of great resources on the internet. Some more simple and effective solutions can be found here: https://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/6-ways-improve-your-balance
2: Get checked! General self-care tips can only take you so far if you have specific systemic failures. Here at Great Works Chiropractic, we are trained in advanced functional neurological assessment and treatment to assess the sensory (proprioceptive, oculomotor, vestibular, etc.) and motor (muscle control and coordination) aspects of human function. If any of the systems if failing, we can create a program of in-office care followed by home care to strengthen them and get them back up to speed.
After that, all that’s left is to run off and join the circus!
Or at least walk with confidence. Maybe the high wire next year. ;)
Questions? Curious? Mention this blog post to get a free 15-minute consultation with me in our office. Just call 207-704-0298 to set it up. We’d be happy to help keep you on your feet. Literally!
Great Works Chiropractic (GWC) is now offering a unique experience to the community- the opportunity to relax, reboot, and strengthen their busy brain with a Brain Spa. Brain Spa is a powerfully effective mind development tool designed to help users overcome the ill effects of the fight-or-flight response while achieving physical, mental and emotional balance. The Brain Spa headsets utilize sound frequencies and light synchronization to help guide users to the perfect state of balance between the left and right brain. Over 1000 doctors across the world use this technology with their patients.
Brain Spa utilizes four of the five senses – sight, sound, smell, and touch – to bring users into the most relaxed and stress-free state of mind currently possible. The soothing atmosphere and brain-balancing experience are specifically designed to neurologically complement the chiropractic care patients receive at GWC.
“Today, people spend thousands of dollars enhancing their bodies, but do little to improve the quality of their thoughts,” says Dr. Seth LaFlamme, owner of Great Works Chiropractic. “The truth is, we can accomplish far more by managing brainwave activity and mentally rehearsing the positive, productive and healthy lifestyle we all want. The majority of users report stress relief, healthier sleep patterns, improved memory, improved learning ability and concentration, a sense of calm, increased focus, and increased physical energy.”
With the headset over closed eyes, and headphones over the ears, users are immersed in a perfect mixture of light and sound frequencies. Eyes will be treated to a beautiful light show while users listen to specially designed music, part of the guided Brain Spa process. There are over 700 programs to choose from to help change habits and behaviors including smoking, over-eating, insomnia, and sports success.
For more information about whether the Brain Spa process could work for you, contact Great Works Chiropractic at 207-704-0298. GWC is located at 248 Main Street, South Berwick, Maine. www.greatworkschiro.com
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