Dr. David Perlmutter, a Board-Certified Neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition and author of the upcoming book “Power Up Your Brain”, recently wrote an exciting article on neurogenesis titled “Neurogenesis: How to Change Your Brain”
As pointed out we’ve come a long way in neurology from the now outdated belief that “In adult centers, the nerve paths are something fixed, ended, immutable. Everything may die, nothing may be regenerated.” ~Santiago Ramon Y Cajal, “Degeneration and Regeneration in the Nervous System,” 1928”
But where are we today, and what is neurogenesis? As Dr. Perlmutter states “within each of our brains there exists a population of neural stem cells which are continually replenished and can differentiate into brain neurons. Simply stated, we are all experiencing brain stem cell therapy every moment of our lives.”
So what stimulates neurogenesis? According to the website “Neurogenesis.iord.org”, we would find “One of the main goals of researchers is to develop drugs to stimulate areas of the brain to repair itself by replacing its own cells”
So the question is while even Neurogenesis.iord.org states “in the past few years, scientists have discovered that the brain does change throughout life, and can possibly repair itself as well as be enhanced by healthy activities including exercise and proper nutrition” why would researchers focus be on drugs?
Dr. Perlmutter pointed out some of the research of various ways to stimulate neurogenesis including physical exercise, caloric restriction, Omega 3 and curcumin. And there are other natural approaches to add to that list; including touch stimuli which can stimulate neurogenesis in the spinal cord of mice, according to a study published online recently (16 November 2010) in Molecular Psychiatry, suggesting that neurogenesis may be an important component of touch sensation.
And a diet “rich in essential amino acids”
University of Pittsburgh December of 2009, neurology researchers have shown that feeding amino acids to brain-injured animals restores their cognitive abilities and may set the stage for the first effective treatment for cognitive impairments suffered by people with traumatic brain injuries.
With Amino Acid Diet, Mice Improve After Brain Injury Monday, December 7, 2009, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
A similar study was done by SUNY a few months later using synthetic amino acids and drugs, which had similar findings of cognitive improvement. Drug Combo May Treat Brain Injury, Animal Study Suggests
It appears to me that while the focus may be on finding drugs to help, that Mother Nature holds the answers, and perhaps we need to learn how to utilize natural methods more. Why do we look at what is natural and known as healthy as “alternative”?
In looking at Dr. Perlmutter’s list, and in appreciating the Mc Rib and Redbull world we live in,
* where a third of our children are overweight or obese according to a new study by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the health and obesity concern for a growing number of children
* where it is predicted that within the next decade or so according to the CDC the number of cases of diabetes will double or even triple
* where a restaurant makes a lame attempt at humor about cardiovascular disease and death by giving free “food” such as “Double Bypass Burger and Flatliner Fries” to patrons that weight 350 pounds or more.
…perhaps this is why researchers focus on drug therapy even in light of Mother Nature’s numerous proven ways to help neurogenesis. In a world filled with overweight and out of shape individuals it’s difficult to fathom large-scale embrace of some of the effective natural methods such as physical exercise, no less a 30% “caloric restriction”
But adding to the diet can work. If one feels better and looks better, it’s motivation and a way to help educate those that lead unhealthy lifestyles to embrace a more healthy way of eating and living. Omega 3 supplementation is fairly accepted by both the medical as well as consumer markets now. And the other food source that can be added to help as Dr. Perlmutter points out is curcumin. Unlike Omega 3 however, curcumin is still very much unknown to most Americans. Also to keep in mind with curcumin which is from turmeric, a slow growing vegetation, or any vegetation we consume, one should try to consume curcumin tested free of heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides.
And there are more healthy food additions we can add to the diet to help stimulate neuro repair as well, including “a diet rich in essential amino acids” as recent research has proven which is exciting. While the University of Pittsburgh study and similar SUNY study were done with mice, as it’s just a diet rich in essential amino acids this is something simple enough to try in humans.