The exact cause of FND is unknown, however it involves a problem with the body’s nervous system. Historically, the onset of FND was associated with physical or emotional trauma, although many people living with FND don’t report a history of trauma.
Symptoms can include motor dysfunction, seizures, vision and speech difficulties, and paralysis. FND is classified as a mental health condition but because it involves both neurology and psychiatry, it can take a long time to be correctly diagnosed.
What people should know about this disorder:
The disorder impacts us physically and mentally.The symptoms are very real and every symptom is actually happening.
legs would start feeling numb, whole body would start twitching; whole body would literally stop functioning. It’s like an off switch where you suddenly can’t control your movements or anything you’re doing.’
Our movements and mobility can fluctuate from minute to minute.
FND can have the same debilitating symptoms as seen in multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, yet many health professionals lack knowledge and understanding of this condition. This can result in a lack of appropriate treatment, reduced support and feelings of isolation, and lead to enormous distress.
From an arm that shakes constantly, from just tapping to uncontrollable, huge movements; legs that don’t work; pain, uncontrollable emotions, not wanting to go out because of how people look at you or the fear of having a seizure in public.’
Family and friends need knowledge, understanding, help and support. Lack of understanding and acceptance by family and friends increases the feelings of isolation. FND doesn’t just affect our lives; it can have a major impact on our loved ones.
”None of us knew this could or would happen to us. Virtually overnight, our life changed and becomes so hard that even getting out of bed can be tough.”
FND can destroy a person’s ability to work; socialize; make plans; and participate fully in life. It becomes a very lonely and isolating illness.
‘I recognise now that my body needs more rest than the average person. I can’t work 9 to 5 like my friends and family. Initially I couldn’t accept my limitations, but now I remind myself to treat my condition with care and stop comparing myself to others and society’s expectations when they lack understanding about this mysterious condition.’
People are suffering and struggling every day, and no one knows how long it will take to recover from the illness, or if we will ever recover.
Brain regeneration is an important concept that is critical in today’s environment. Your brain is the command center of your nervous system and the center of all of your body’s functions and systems. The health of your brain is essential for your memory, learning, mental energy, and mood, and the prevention of mental health issues and neurodegenerative disorders.
Even though most of your brain cells are formed in the womb and during infancy, new research suggests that your brain is able to regenerate and create new cells throughout your life. This means that you can keep your brain health, mental energy, and memory even as you age.
In this article, you will learn what brain regeneration, BDNF and neuroplasticity are and why they are important for brain health. You will understand the most common things that can damage your brain. I will also share 11 powerful ways to heal your brain cells and support your brain health naturally.
What is Brain Regeneration?
Your brain is one of your most important organs. It is the center of all of your body’s functions and systems. It serves as a command center for your nervous system that perceives stimuli, activates responses, and obtains and sends signals across your body to keep you safe and healthy. Your brain is also the place where your memory is stored and learning, cognition, and individual growth is happening.
Clearly, the health of your brain is critical and should be protected. You may think that it is normal for your brain to decline with age, however, that is not necessarily the case. Nutrition, lifestyle habits, and other factors all affect your brain health. More importantly, and contrary to old beliefs, your brain is able to generate new brain cells.
How Brain Regeneration Works
Most of your brain cells are formed while you were in your mother’s womb. Other neural cells of your brain developed during infancy. Until recent decades, doctors believed a certain level of brain degeneration is inevitable because your brain had a limited capacity to regenerate. Now we know better.
New research from the last two decades suggests that your brain is actually able to create new cells throughout your lifespan and brain regeneration is possible. Your brain actually still creates about 700 new neurons per day in the hippocampus. This allows the hippocampus to maintain its central function.
The science of neurogenesis suggests that aerobic exercise, brain exercises, stress relief, and other lifestyle habits can encourage brain regeneration, improve your brain health, and may help to prevent or treat degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, or reverse damage from traumatic brain injury.
BDNF and Synaptic Plasticity
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF is a protein produced inside your nerve cells to help your brain to communicate and function properly. It protects neurons, encourages their growth, improves their functions, and helps them to survive by protecting them from premature cell death. It also strengthens the signal between neurons by binding to the receptors at the synapses.
BDNF is essential for optimal brain function and a key player in brain regeneration. It plays an important role in learning and memory. It regulates various body functions, including eating and drinking.
Brain Regeneration and Synaptic Density
Synapses are junctions between neurons that allow communication. Synaptic plasticity is the change that happens at synapses and affects the quality of the communication between two neurons. Short-term synaptic plasticity is a rapid, sub-second change that reverts to normal quickly.
Long-term synaptic plasticity is a longer change that may last for minutes, hours, days, or years. Long-term synaptic plasticity is critical for our brain’s ability to store information and for our memory.
Research has shown that BDNF is critical for long-term enhancement of synaptic efficacy. It improves neural development and synaptic plasticity, hence it may lower the risk of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington disease, and depression.
Things That Damage Our Brain
Your diet, lifestyle, and overall health has everything to do with your brain health. Let’s take a look at the things that can damage our brain.
Blood Sugar Imbalances
Eating a diet high in processed carbs and refined sugar and low in vegetables, healthy fats, and clean protein can lead to blood sugar imbalances. Blood sugar imbalances may lead to irritability, lightheadedness, cravings, fatigue, mood fluctuations, memory issues, and brain fog.
You may experience constant cravings and fatigue. A quick carbohydrate-rich snack or meal may seem to give you quick energy, but soon, you will experience a sugar drop characterized by fatigue and brain fog. Blood sugar imbalances can increase your risk of diabetes, blood vessel problems, and compromised brain health.
Toxins are everywhere. They are in our polluted air, our tap water, non-organic and processed foods, plastic products, moldy indoor spaces, and conventional beauty, body, and household products. Unfortunately, these environmental toxins may have a serious impact on our brain and overall health.
Neurotoxins, such as ethanol (in alcohol), glutamate, heavy metals, nitric oxide, botulinum toxin (in Botox), tetrodotoxin, and tetanus toxin, are particularly damaging to your neurological health. Environmental toxicity may increase brain fog, memory problems, anxiety, depression, mental health issues, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, dementia, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Movement is, of course, critical for your health. But it’s more than your physical strength, toned look, or cardiovascular fitness. Movement is crucial for your brain health as well, especially for those areas of your brain that are important for memory formation.
A sedentary lifestyle causes brain cell degeneration. Research has found that a sedentary lifestyle may increase your risk of memory problems, learning troubles, and cognitive decline.
Chronic Stress and Poor Sleep Habits
When you are experiencing stress, the amygdala, the area in your brain that partakes in emotional processing, signals your hypothalamus. As a response, your hypothalamus increases your heart rate encourages deeper intake of oxygen and heavier breathing, heightens your senses, rushes adrenaline in your body, and increases your cortisol levels. When the stress is over, everything should return to normal. However, when you are under stress, this stress response is never over.
Chronic stress leads to a build-up of cortisol in the body. Among many other functions, cortisol helps your hippocampus, where your memories are stored and processed. When you are under chronic stress and there is too much cortisol, it wears your brain down, impairs brain and memory function, disrupts synapse regulation, and kills brain cells. Chronic stress has a seriously negative effect on your memory and learning.
Regular poor sleep can also have a serious impact on your brain health. It may increase chronic stress, fatigue, and chronic inflammation, which may lead to brain fog, memory troubles, mood swings, low mood, and learning difficulties. According to research, sleep deprivation may even increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Gut Infections and Dysbiosis
Have you ever experienced stomach problems before an important event, public speaking, or a new date? The connection between our brain and our gut is clear. However, our gut and brain not only affect each other short-term during stressful or exciting events. The communication between the two is on-going, long-term, and intimate.
Gut dysbiosis and gut infections can increase inflammation in the gut and the entire body. Chronic inflammation affects your entire body, not just your brain. Gut microbiome imbalance to mood cognition, and mental health. Digestive problems, gut dysbiosis, and gut infections may increase your risk and symptoms of brain fog, memory problems, learning difficulties, anxiety, depression, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Top 11 Brain Regeneration Strategies
Chances are, you want to say good-bye to brain fog, memory issues, learning troubles, mental fatigue, and low mood. You certainly want to protect your brain from neurodegeneration, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Read on to learn the top 11 ways to protect and heal your brain cells naturally. Practicing some form of all of these strategies is important for optimizing your mental health and keeping your brain healthy and strong.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in nutrient-dense foods is critical for your brain health. Begin by removing all inflammatory foods, including refined sugar, gluten, refined oils, deep-fried and processed foods, conventional dairy, grain-fed meat and eggs, soda and sugary drinks, and foods that you are sensitive to.
Instead, eat an anti-inflammatory diet with lots of greens, vegetables, low glycemic index fruits, herbs, spices, healthy fats, grass-fed meat, and wild-caught fish.
Intermittent fasting is a fasting strategy that cycles between fasting and eating over a period of time. It helps cellular repair, autophagy, immune regulation, inflammation levels, and insulin sensitivity, and decreases the risk of chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s.
Getting Into Ketosis From Time to Time
Under the regular circumstances, most people’s body creates energy by breaking down glucose from dietary carbohydrates. However, when your body doesn’t receive enough glucose supply, it turns to dietary or stored body fat for energy. These fats are converted in the liver into ketones that enter your mitochondria inside your cells to be turned into energy.
This process of ketosis helps to enhance autophagy, reduce inflammation, improve mitochondrial biogenesis, improve brain health, and increase mental sharpness.
Regular Movement and Exercise
Regular movement and exercise are not only part of a healthy lifestyle, but are essential for brain health. They may help to lower chronic inflammation, reduce stress levels, and decrease the risk of memory problems, learning troubles, and cognitive decline.
Reduce Stress and Practice Gratitude
Reducing your stress levels is non-negotiable for brain regeneration and mental health. To reduce your stress, try regular meditation, daily prayer, breathwork, journaling, regular exercise, relaxation recordings, daily gratitude, and nature walks. Practice positive self-talk and affirmations for a powerful mindset and mood shift.
Practice daily gratitude and prayer. Keep a daily gratitude journal and count your blessing throughout the day. Remember, when you are in a state of gratitude, negative energy, stress, and anxiety have no room.
Prioritize Good Sleep
Prioritizing good-quality sleep is critical for your brain regeneration and mental health. It is essential for rest, repair, and cellular rejuvenation. Develop a regular nighttime routine that relaxes your body before sleep and works for you. Avoid sugar and caffeine throughout the day, especially in the evening.
Turn off your electronics several hours before bedtime. Engage in relaxing activities. Meditate, journal, reading, read, stretch, and sip on some herbal tea. Make sure that you have a comfortable bed, bedding, and pillows. Try some black-out curtains or a sleep mask.
Support Gut Health
As you’ve learned, your brain and gut are closely connected, hence supporting your gut is absolutely necessary to heal your brain cells. Eating a gut-friendly, anti-inflammatory, and nutrient-dense diet is a must.
Additionally, support a gut microbiome balance with healthy bacteria by eating probiotic-rich foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir.
Neurobics is a term used to describe the physiological effects of unique and non-routine ways of thinking and moving and their effects on the brain to improve memory, learning, mood, and mindset. These exercises can help stimulate brain regeneration by challenging the brain to think and move in unique ways.
Neurobics exercises include balancing on one leg, crossword puzzles, trying a new instrument, using your non-dominant hand, barefoot walking, and journaling.
Reduce Your Toxic Load
To optimize your brain health, you cannot forget about reducing your toxic load. Eat organic foods as much as possible. Remove conventional beauty, body, and household products, and replace them with organic, natural, or homemade alternatives.
Spend time in nature as much as possible. Getting good water filtration is also especially important.
One of the key nutrients to address for proper brain regeneration is magnesium. Magnesium is critical for brain health, mental health, relaxation, and stress relief.
Use Autophagy Enhancing Herbs
Autophagy is your body’s natural method of detoxification. It allows your body to recycle and get rid of old and unhealthy cells leaving room for the creation of new and healthy cells to replace them. To heal your brain cells, I recommend autophagy-enhancing herbs, including matcha green tea, ginger, turmeric, resveratrol, citrus bergamot, oregano, sage, rosemary, and quercetin.
Anxiety: a dreaded feeling you never want to experience. Yet, over 33% of the U.S. population will experience anxiety in their lifetime- that’s 40 million Americans. However, a holistic and functional approach to health can help explain why anxiety isn’t just in your head, while addressing and healing chronic anxiety disorders.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety describes an inner state of emotional turmoil. It’s a mental, and often physical, response to stress, fear, and worry. In many cases, anxiety is a normal and healthy reaction to unknown situations or danger. However, deeper trouble arises when anxiety becomes chronic and debilitating.
Different Kinds of Anxiety Disorders
When anxiety starts to negatively impact day-to-day activities, a formal anxiety disorder might be at play. The most common kinds of anxiety disorders, include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Feelings of excessive anxiety and irrational worry
Panic Disorder (PD) – Panic attacks and feelings of intense fear
Social Anxiety Disorder – Fear and anxiety in social situations
Phobias – Persistent fear of an object or situation
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Frequently repeating thoughts or actions
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Fear triggered by a previous traumatic event
Major Depressive Disorder – Over two weeks of experiencing low mood
It’s important to work closely with a health professional to accurately diagnose and manage any anxiety disorder.
8 Uncommon Reasons Why Anxiety Isn’t Just In Your Head
Although anxiety can feel primarily like a mental or emotional issue, there is much more going on beneath the surface. Meaning, your anxiety isn’t only in your head. In fact, there are many root causes of anxiety. Some of the most common ones are:
Mental or Emotional Stress
Stress comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. And, it can be in response to previous life experiences. Some of the most common sources of mental/emotional stress are:
Learned behaviors as a child
The result of different parenting/attachment styles
Lack of healthy boundaries
Not enough downtime/rest
Social, financial, relationship stress
Ongoing and acute stress (due to finances, work, family, relationships, etc.) can also contribute to anxiety symptoms.
The thyroid gland affects every physiological function in the body. When thyroid hormones become imbalanced, consequential dysfunction occurs. This imbalance can have a major impact on mood regulation. For example: an underactive thyroid can result in low mood or depression, while an overactive thyroid can create anxiety or fear. Autoimmune thyroiditis can trigger both under and overactive thyroid symptoms.
A functional medicine practitioner can help you identify and address any imbalances within the thyroid through functional testing.
In addition to thyroid dysfunction, other hormonal imbalances can be a primary root cause of anxiety disorders. In many cases, these physiological changes create a chronic stress response in the body, leading to chronic anxiety. The most important hormone imbalances to pay attention to, include:
Dysglycemia (blood sugar dysregulation)
Caffeine sensitivity (ie. an intense adrenaline rush when consumed)
Inflammation is the root cause of all chronic disease, including anxiety. Common causes of inflammation include: unhealthy lifestyle choices, an inflammatory diet, chronic infection, acute sickness, autoimmunity, and more.
In the case of anxiety disorders, cytokines play a starring role. Inflammation causes a dysregulation of cytokine production and can lead to cognitive imbalances, like depression and anxiety. More so, the concept of psychoneuroimmunology further explains the role of inflammation on the central nervous system and brain. GABA deficiency has also been associated with anxiety disorders.
Hippocrates once said, “All health starts in the gut.” Hence, poor gut health is a breeding ground for a host of health issues. Regarding anxiety, the following gut imbalances should be addressed:
Unsurprisingly, imbalances in the brain largely influence mood and anxiety. Common examples of brain imbalances, include:
An overactive mesencephalon (midbrain)
Excessive CO2 levels in the body
Increased amygdala function / limbic system activation
Underactive frontal lobes
Neurotransmitter imbalances (ie. GABA deficiency)
Vestibular, Balance or Eye Tracking issues
Unfortunately, toxins are all around us. We find them in our air (pollution, mold, mycotoxins), food (pesticides, herbicides), water (heavy metals, pharmaceutical drugs, bacterial, parasites, viruses), cleaning products (chemicals, fragrances), cosmetics (endocrine disruptors), and more. Chronic exposure to these toxins in everyday life can greatly alter brain, immune and hormone function.
Various socioeconomic factors can play a role in anxiety disorders. The most common factors, include:
Lack of access to healthcare
Discrimination, racism and bias
Cultural influences and expectations
It might feel like anxiety is all in your head. However, it’s clear that anxiety stems from other imbalances in the body. The key is to identify what is causing anxiety, so that it can be effectively addressed and healed.
How to Heal Anxiety (from a Functional Approach)
Anxiety can feel like a life sentence, but it doesn’t have to be. When looking at anxiety from a functional medicine approach, it’s important to understand and address the root cause, starting with:
1. Improving Gut Health:
You may not be able to change all external factors that contribute to anxiety. But you can somewhat control what you eat. An inflamed gut and brain will have a much harder time managing stress and calming anxiety.
First and foremost, it’s critical to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet when anxiety is present. Minimally, this means removing inflammatory foods (ie. gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, corn) from the diet. However, for those with a chronic health condition, an autoimmune disorder or severe anxiety, the Autoimmune Protocol might be the best option.
Additionally, it can be beneficial to include plenty of gut-healing foods in the diet, like:
2. Practicing Mind-Body Exercises:
Clearly, the mind-body connection is strong. Practicing mind-body exercises is an effective way to address both chronic anxiety symptoms and acute anxiety attacks. Try these exercises to expedite healing:
Vagal nerve exercises
Deep breathing- Breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 2, breath out for 8, hold for 2, and repeat.
Deep pressure application- weighted blankets, hugs, massage, applying pressure to your own body
3. Implement Natural Remedies:
Naturally remedies, like supplements and essential oils, are foundational in functional healing.
Supplements- GABA deficiency is very common in those with anxiety. Precursors to GABA, like glutamine, magnesium, and zinc, can help the body naturally produce more GABA. Additionally, adaptogens, like ashwagandha, are helpful in regulating the nervous system and stabilizing mood. For those who are sensitive to nightshades, opt for eleuthero root, instead.
Essential Oils – Essential oils are an effective and enjoyable method of aromatherapy for anxiety. Specifically, Lavender, Wild Orange, Lemon, Ylang Ylang, and Melissa Frankincense have been shown to reduce anxiety and improve stress response.
4. Consider Therapy:
Arguably the most well-known treatment for anxiety is therapy. Various methods of therapy, like talk therapy, neuro-based therapies (EMDR), and energy psychology techniques can be beneficial. Explicitly, EMDR has been shown to help people heal from the past traumas and experiences that cause anxiety in the first place.
Unaddressed anxiety can affect every part of your life. To fully heal from your anxiety disorder and get your life back, it’s necessary to take a root cause approach. And, sometimes, we need help doing so.
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Fasting has become a buzz word recently, for good reason. There’s a lot of science behind the benefits of fasting. Most people are talking about using fasting to lose weight, but fasting is a powerful therapy for the brain.
Building vs. Cleansing When we eat, the body is in a building phase. In the building phase, it builds tissues and cells. When we are not eating, the body is in a cleansing stage where it cleans tissues and cells removing toxins. Both are necessary for proper functioning. The problem is with the standard american diet that’s heavy in carbs which triggers constant hunger and snacking. Our bodies don’t get to experience the necessary cleaning phase.
Autophagy is the magical process that happens during this cleaning phase. Also called the “self eating” phase, autophagy discards old, dead cells and encourages the growth of new brain cells. It improves cognitive function and neuroplasticity. Scientists believe autophagy protects against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Multiple Sclerosis.
Fasting Reduces Inflammation Fasting also reduces inflammation, which has a role in every psychiatric disorder. Researchers at Yale School of Medicine were able to find that a compound produced by the body (B-hydroxybutyrate) when fasting inhibits an inflammatory response (NLRP3.). Fasting is a way to protect your brain from neurodegenerative diseases, mood disorders, and brain fog.
Find a way to fast that works for you.
Fasting can be done many different ways. Fasting “windows” are periods where a person doesn’t eat for an extended period of time. Intermittent fasting is most popular, where long term use of short term fasts are done daily. For example, you may have heard of the 16/8 fast which means fasting (usually overnight) for 16 hours and eating during an 8-hour “window” during the day. Everyone’s body reacts differently to fasting so it takes time to not only get used to fasting but to understand how it’s affecting your body.
Here are some tips to get started:
Eat a high fat, low carb diet. Anyone who’s eaten a diet full of carbohydrates knows you’re triggered to eat nearly every 2 hours. Switching to a diet higher in fat will keep you satiated longer. It will also stabilize you blood sugar and give your brain a steady clean energy to avoid crashes Ease into it. Take a look at your current eating window. If you’re eating for 12 hours, shorten the window by 2 hours. Be strict but stay at the window for a week or so as your body adjusts. Then continue to shorten the window. You’ll know what works right for you if you are feeling well physically and your brain is sharp and able to focus for extended periods of time. Prepare for the adjustment period. When you begin fasting you may feel tired, irritable, or “out of it.” This is part of the adaptation phase and will pass once your body is adjusted Don’t be too rigid. Ultimately, fasting will just become part of your life. I fast daily, and no longer have to think about it. Over the first few months, don’t become too rigid. Listen to your body. It may want you to eat more earlier and less later or vice versa. Fasting has huge benefits, but you don’t need to follow a trend or any certain study. Let your body guide you. Be present to the emotions fasting brings up. Eating and the urge to eat is often tied to emotions and that pattern usually hasn’t been broken since childhood. When actively not eating you will feel a lot of emotions that you’ve been distracted from or avoiding. Be present and feel the emotions. Notice them and let them pass.
The brain needs one thing to fully function: real food.
While it’s easy to get obsessed with what we should eat, what we shouldn’t eat is just as important.
Toxic foods affect us on a cellular level, and our brains are forced to cope. Remove these three items and your brain will thank you.
Avoid Hydrogenated Oils like canola oils and vegetable oils.
Industry brought us these man made oils. They are cheaper, their shelf life is basically forever, and they’ve been sold to us as a healthy option. These oils change the biology of our cells which is reason enough to say goodbye. The good news is they’re tasteless and you won’t miss them. The bad news is they’re used in almost every restaurant in the US. Cook at home. When out, avoid anything fried.
Get real about sugar.
In one study (link) rats were given cocaine and sugar water. They quickly ditched cocaine in favor of the sugar water. When it was removed they experienced withdrawal symptoms. Sugar releases dopamine like any other drug which leaves people binging and feeling out of control. We’re just starting to find out the effect its use has on our mental health. Be mindful about sugar. Eat it as a rare indulgence, not a daily staple. Bake and sweeten your foods with raw honey or maple syrup.
Get Present to What is Processed.
Think about your food. Be present. We’ve had fast, grab and go packaged foods for several generations now. Sometimes we’re unaware of what is and what is not actual food. If it didn’t exist 100 years ago, its not food.