May is Mental Health Awareness month, and so let’s talk about your brain. Do you keep it healthy? Do you include mental strength training in your regular routine? Do you prioritize your brain health?
What Is Brain Health?
When we're talking about brain health, we mean the ability to remember, learn, play, concentrate, and maintain a clear, active mind. Simply, brain health means making the most of your brain. But just like any other muscle, you lose what you don’t use. To maximize your brain health, you need to make brain hygiene a priority in your daily routine.
Why Exercise the Mind?
No one questions the benefits of exercise on the body. Our journey to optimizing our health encompasses both our physical and mental well-being. As often as we exercise the body, it is important for us to also engage in the mental exercises that sharpen our brain (mental) function. The brain exerts central control over the overall functioning of the human body and is also the central processing point for memory, concentration, and cognition, among other mental activities.
Here are 5 BENEFITS associated with mental exercises:
How Do I Know if My Brain is Healthy?
Knowing where you currently score by using an app like BrainCheck, and keeping track of that score on a monthly or quarterly basis, should be a regular part of your health care routine. If you find that your score is slipping or that you are in a brain fog, it’s imperative that you proactively address your “brain care” so the damage doesn’t stack up to the point of no return.
What Do Researchers Say?
Current research indicates that a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol, rich in good fats like polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, and packed with nutrients such as vitamin E and lutein, may protect brain cells and promote brain health. Regular sleep and exercise also contribute to a healthy brain. There is also support for improving brain health by learning, completing logic puzzles, and playing games.
Brain fog, poor focus, lack of concentration, and declining memory could be indicative of a micronutrient deficiency. It may be a good idea to check your micronutrient levels to see if you may need to make a diet change or add supplementation to your brain health regime.
How Can I Improve My Brain Health?
For an activity to be effective in exercising your brain, it is critical that it involves most, if not all, of your five senses - sound, smell, sight, touch, and taste. It also helps to stick to real-world activities (which will mean dropping your mobile device for a few minutes).
Here are 5 exercises to help build your mental fitness. Find an activity that engages all your senses at the same time.
How Else Can I Help My Brain Stay Healthy?
We know that nutrition is key in maintaining a healthy brain, but we also know that in today’s world it is a challenge to get all of those nutrients solely from our diet. However, not all supplements are made equal. This is where Next|Health has your back. We’ve done the research for you and have gathered under one roof a literal “brain health playground” to help supplement your daily brain health routine.
Our Brain Health IV is packed with amino acids and vitamins, including glutamine, l-glycine, and biotin (B vitamin). It is carefully designed to improve your focus, boost your energy, and improve your mood. Acetyl-L-Carnitine has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing for optimized brain function and clarity, and taurine works to protect the brain muscle and support the slowing of muscle degeneration.
This IV also comes with a CoQ10 vitamin shot. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that maximizes cellular energy and protects the nervous system.
A Glutathione Push is also a great add-on to any IV. The mother of all antioxidants, glutathione supports healthy brain function, assists in tissue building and repair, and supports the immune system.
Research has shown that inflammation is a key contributor to many degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Cryotherapy and Infrared Light Therapy reduce inflammation and increase cellular energy, making them great additions to your brain care routine.
More Questions? Want More Information?
If you want to learn more about the importance of brain health and neurological wellness, as well as discover new, noninvasive methods and mental exercises for alleviating symptoms of many neurological conditions and improving mental health, check out this video of our May FOREFRONT event. Peter Opperman and Board-Certified Neurosurgeon, Dr. Amir Vokshoor, both share the most recent research on brain health, technology, and holistic care.
The brain is the most important organ in the body. Therefore, make sure to include brain health as a priority in your usual health care regimen.
STAY MIND FIT!
There are very few studies done on humans as of yet, but those done show a relationship between our microbiome and the metabolization of the foods we ingest, as well as how effectively our body is able to convert and use those nutrients to its benefit. Our microbiome also initiates our immune response and plays a role in how effectively it responds to inflammation and disease. Essentially, the healthier the biome, the more effective our body will be at responding to the stress, disease, and inflammation that we encounter daily. Americans’ diets today consist in a large part of simple sugars, carbohydrates, and processed foods. These are not optimal for sustaining a healthy microbiome, and the result is an upward trend in obesity. A genomics specialist from Washington University School of Medicine was quoted in the New York Times as having said, “The nutritional value of food is influenced in part by the microbial community that encounters that food.” He is referring to the fact that a healthy microbiome will be best supported by a plant-based diet (fruits and vegetables), which will in turn enable it to pull even more nutrition from the ingested food, thus keeping us at optimal health.
THE MICROBIOME - WHY IT MATTERS
Scientists have also found that the health of our microbiomes could play a large role in either preventing or aiding the development of various neuropsychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression. The brain and gut share a very intimate connection. For example, just the thought of eating can begin the process of producing digestive fluids in the stomach. Similarly, a feeling of anxiety can induce a clenching and sometimes cramping feeling in the gut. That biofeedback loop between the brain and gut is incredibly strong, and research has suggested that an unbalanced microbiome could induce the production of antibodies that can adversely affect the blood-brain barrier, thereby enabling the development of these and other neuropsychiatric disorders.
Scientists are also aware that a great number of antibodies - which are responsible for fighting off disease - are produced by gut bacteria. We can conclude that our gut plays a large role in fighting off and preventing disease - both acute and chronic.
Bulletproof Labs,® an affiliate of Next|Health and a self-defined biohacking facility dedicated to training you to “hack” your own biology in order to achieve advanced cognitive and physical function, has been using grass-fed ghee for years in its signature Bulletproof Coffee®. Founder David Asprey made it his mission to find out what best helps our bodies and brains feel alive and well, and on a Tibetan mountain he found ghee. From there he developed the one-of-a-kind Bulletproof Coffee®, which uses Bulletproof Labs’® own high-quality, grass-fed ghee.
If you’re more of a DIY-er, the Institute of Functional Medicine has published a recipe called Better Butter with Ghee. It is a replacement for regular butter and is made mostly of Ghee, along with colostrum powder, L-glutamine, and zinc carnosine. These additional supplements serve to support cell metabolism, a balanced immune system, and ulcer-prevention. The recipe and directions are as follows:
It is crucial for our overall wellness that we prioritize the health of the inside of our bodies as well as we do the outside. If you want to improve your mood and feel energized both physically and mentally, then give Next|Health’s Gut Health IV a try. It provides your body with a boost of essential amino acids and anti-inflammatory agents that optimize and improve your overall gut health.
If you want to pack an even stronger punch, try the Next|Health Limitless Shot. This shot is composed of the power couple Biotin & MIC. Biotin is great for improving digestion and supporting a healthy metabolism and goes hand-in-hand with MIC, an aid in burning fat and increasing energy.
Remember, our gut is our “second brain,” meaning it plays a role in our physical, emotional, and mental health. So don’t forget those little microbes - they may just be the most important part yet!
If you haven’t heard of Metformin yet, chances are you soon will. It’s one of the biggest unkept secrets of celebrities and billionaires who are looking to extend their lives indefinitely.
Metformin, produced from the French lilac plant, has actually been around for decades as a safe, effective treatment for diabetes. Before it was a pharmaceutical, Metformin has been in use as an herbal remedy for frequent urination, measles, and worms, among other conditions.
Recently, Metformin has seen a surge of interest in the burgeoning field of longevity science. Numerous studies, mostly on diabetes, have shown that people taking Metformin tend to have fewer heart attacks and cancer diagnoses, and it also seems to stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, people appear to live longer and put off most age-related disease for a greater number of years as compared to people not on the drug. Metformin thus seems to work to not only to increase lifespans but also to increase health spans, which is arguably more important.
How does it work? Metformin has been shown to increase the production of mTOR and AMPK, both of which promote youthful function inside the cell, promote fat utilization, and decrease sugar storage. Cellular AMPK levels decline with age, which biologically leads to some of the cellular signs of aging, such as the inability to repair damaged DNA. Considering the overwhelming evidence, the FDA has now approved the first longevity study ever, called TAME (Targeting Aging with Metformin), which aims to prove these benefits over the long term.
Like any drug, Metformin does have some possible side effects, such as low blood sugar and gastrointestinal disturbances (diarrhea, nausea, gas). A potentially serious side effect, lactic acidosis, (symptoms include tiredness, muscle pain, breathing difficulty, slow heart rate), is discussed in the literature, but several large studies have debunked the association of Metformin with this condition. People with liver or kidney disease should not take Metformin. To be safe, before and after (on regular intervals) taking Metformin, you should have bloodwork done.
With billions of dollars being poured by tech titans into longevity research, we are likely to rapidly see many breakthroughs in longevity science. Billionaires Sergey Brin, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg are investing in extending their healthy lifespans, sidestepping the traditional Big Pharma/FDA research pathways that could take decades. Big data, artificial intelligence, and the overwhelming amount of money being invested into biotech has exponentially increased the rate of discovery in the anti-aging arena.
So, where do you start? First, no amount of Metformin will help if you don’t live a healthy lifestyle. You must first get the basics right: 7 hours of sleep, a plant-based diet, and daily physical activity. Second, you need some objective measures of your health and cellular age. A Next|Health Baseline blood panel, combined with a telomere test (a measurement of the length of the end caps of your DNA to identify your cellular age), is a great starting point. Third, talk to our medical professionals to see if Metformin is a good addition to your daily supplement protocol. Other than losing some weight, you may not see or feel any immediate results. But stick with it, as the long-term studies show you may helping yourself live a longer, healthier life!
Over the last few years there have been a plethora of “brain games” introduced to the market, purporting to improve your cognitive abilities in just a few minutes a day. Luminosity, BrainHQ, Peak Labs, and Elevate are a few of the more popular ones that you may have heard of.
Are they really worth the time and money? Does playing a game really help your brain to stay sharp and focused? Unfortunately, the research is conflicting. The website cognitivetrainingdata.com has an up-to-date list of many of the papers published on the topic. A quick review reveals that the data is inconclusive. In fact, the scientific community battled it out in 2014 when Stanford published a “consensus paper” stating that there was “little evidence” that brain training worked. A group of dozens of scientists fired back with a letter stating the opposite.
In my personal experience, both with myself and patients, I have found small but measurable improvements after a few weeks of training with a "brain game" app (the one I used was Peak labs). I used the app BrainCheck to evaluate before and after benchmarks. The results were more dramatic in people who led sedentary lives with lower-than-average “regular” mental stimulation (ie. socially isolated or retired persons).
In contrast, we have an abundance of evidence implicating that stimulating the brain with problem-solving, social activities, and goal-oriented tasks play a role in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Combine this with regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and good control of your sugar intake, and you have almost guaranteed yourself improved brain function for years to come.
Protecting and supporting your brain should be a top priority for every single one of person. Knowing where you currently score by using an app like BrainCheck, and keeping track of that score on a monthly or quarterly basis, should be a regular part of your health care routine. If you find that your score is slipping or that you are in a brain fog, it’s imperative that you proactively address your “brain care” so the damage doesn’t stack up to the point of no return. Talk to a Next|Health medical professional for more information.
As a physician for the last 20 years, I have practiced in almost every health care setting imaginable.
From military clinics to hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and plastic surgery and primary care offices, I have seen it all. Although we have made giant leaps in our understanding of disease, speaking with thousands of patients over this time has given me a chance to observe first-hand how the “health care” system has failed most of us.
Our “health care” system, or the medical establishment, is unfortunately not truly geared towards health. It is reactive and disease-focused. It’s great at treating cancer or heart attacks but not so great at preventing illness. There is a “pill for every ill" but no real effort to find out the cause of a disease and how to eliminate it!
People are feeling let down by their doctors, their health insurance, hospitals, and pharmacies, and for good reason! In medical school, medical students spend 95% plus of their time focused on diagnosis, pathology, and determining which pharmaceutical or surgery will “fix” the disease. Unfortunately, medical professionals totally miss the boat on diagnosing the root cause and why a patient got there in the first place. Teaching doctors about nutrition, movement, exercise, and sleep is never the priority of medical education.
All of the money in health flows towards this paradigm of disease diagnosis and treatment. Most of our health insurance money is also spent along these lines, with the majority being spend in the last few years of your life. The big money is in hospitals and pharmaceuticals – two things that we should be avoiding at all costs. Very little of our health-care dollar goes towards optimizing and perfecting health, avoiding disease in the first place.
We all know the typical experience of seeing a doctor for a checkup: you wait forever in the waiting room, get some bloodwork done (maybe), spend 15 minutes with your doctor or physician's assistant, and then are told whether you are fine and can back next year or if you have a “real problem.” If you actually believe “you are fine,” you probably don’t do anything for a year except maybe trying to make it to the gym semi-regularly and eating as well as you can. We now know that chronic disease starts 20-30 years before the first symptoms develop...so, in reality, NOW is the time to start focusing on optimizing your biology, rather than putting it off until it’s too late. We need a new system that focuses on all aspects of health - diet, nutrition, sleep, detoxification, movement - and addressing all of these on a daily basis.
As many of the top CEO’s in the country get frustrated with the current system, more money is finally flowing from technology into healthcare. Amazon, Facebook, and Google all have invested 100’s of millions of dollars into “solving” aging and disease. They realize that technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, can solve problems like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer much faster and cheaper than the current system: spending billions of dollars and years trying to get FDA approval on a drug that might never work. As technology improves exponentially, so does biotechnology. This is why we are seeing rapid leaps in health and wellness right now. For example, we can now sequence an entire human genome for a few hundred dollars vs. the millions that it cost just a few years ago.
Science is on the verge of a breakthrough in longevity, and we may soon learn how to add tens, if not hundreds, of years to our lifespan with gene-editing tech like KIRSPR, stem cells, and growing new organs. The “singularity,” a term coined by futurist Ray Kurzweil, is a point in time when we learn to live one year longer, every year, due to new breakthroughs, thus reaching longevity at “escape velocity.” In this way, we can potentially add hundreds of years to our lifespan. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to benefit from this technological revolution if our bodies are broken by the time we get there.
The goal is also to expand our HEALTH SPAN - the number of years we feel vital and healthy - as quickly as we expand our lifespan. We want to think and move like we are in our 20’s for as long as possible. The only thing preventing us from achieving this expanded health span is chronic disease. The only way to eliminate chronic disease is to understand its causes and remove them from our life. We know how to do this! But it takes each and every one of us to take our health into our own hands and to stop outsourcing it to our insurance, our doctors, and our trainer. We must learn the basics, measure biomarkers of our biology, and unrelentingly develop habits that keep us at a state of optimal health.
Do We Really Lose / Gain Sleep?
It happens every year: the dreaded spring morning when 2am comes around but immediately changes to 3am and we “lose” an hour of sleep. Mondays are hard enough as it is. But do we really lose and gain an hour of sleep?
Researchers are now finding that no, we actually don’t gain or lose time asleep. What does happen, however, is a disrupted sleep cycle that can take a week to get back on track.
Our bodies are wired to function according to something called a circadian rhythm. Essentially, the daily cycling of light and dark causes hormone shifts that affect our behavioral, mental, and physical changes throughout the day. These rhythms are on a 24-hour cycle, guided by the sun’s light.
For example, morning sunlight has more “blue” light in it - a quality that computer monitors, tv’s, and phone screens share - which signals to the brain that it is time to “wake up.” This is why researchers say that to get a good night’s sleep, you should avoid watching tv, looking at your phone, or working on the computer at least one hour before bedtime. Evening sunlight, by contrast, has “red” light in it. This signals that it is time to wind down and prepare to sleep, which is why it is recommended that people use light bulbs that emit “yellow-” or “red-”light in bedroom lamps.
When we come to Daylight Savings Time, our bodies become dysregulated because we alter our sleep-wake cycle. Even just a one hour change can completely throw off our circadian rhythms, potentially leading to restless sleep, earlier wake-ups, or difficulty falling asleep for several days the following week1.
Why is Sleep So Important?
Many of us, if asked, would agree that we are “stressed out,” or that “the job is stressful,” or
“the kids are stressing me out.”
This is a very good example of chronic stress.
Chronic stress, or stress that extends over a long period of time, is not uncommon in today’s society; however, it is not something we should overlook. While some stress is beneficial (“fight-or-flight” is an example of acute stress, a defense mechanism meant to keep us safe), chronic stress can have adverse effects on our cardiovascular, immune, neuroendocrine, and central nervous systems2.
A natural way to restore optimal health and support resilience in the face of chronic stress is to engage in restful activities, especially sleep.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch conducted and synthesized a survey on sleep deprivation and published six reasons to get enough sleep:
The National Sleep Foundation has also published an infographic detailing sleep requirements by age.
Healthy Sleep Habits to Adopt
In order to get the most out of your sleep, it is very important to establish a bedtime ritual for yourself. This ritual, or what becomes known as “bedtime boundaries,” subconsciously signals to your brain that it is time to begin winding down and preparing for sleep4.
Many of these are very simple practices that won’t add a great amount of time to our bedtime routines but will drastically change the quality of our sleep.
So...do we really lose or gain sleep during daylight savings time? The consensus seems to be no. However, it is possible to allay the effects of dysregulated circadian rhythms by understanding the importance of rest and how it affects our physiology, as well as practicing healthy sleep habits to proactively take care of our brains and overall health!
Even though we live in the Golden State, replete with brilliant sunsets & 80 degree winters, most of us are deficient in vitamin D. Would you believe that up to 90% of adults in the United States are believed to have a vitamin D deficiency?
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Vitamin D is different from other vitamins in that our body makes most of our vitamin D on its own and, in the process, transforms it into a hormone. This hormone, in turn, supports our skeletal muscle structure, blood pressure, immunity, mood, brain function, and ability to protect ourselves from cancer.
There are two types of supplemental Vitamin D: D2 and D3. Out of the two, D3 is believed to be the most beneficial, since this is the type of vitamin D that our bodies naturally produce. Vitamin D3 is called cholecalciferol. Unfortunately, the majority of vitamin D-fortified foods and supplements contain vitamin D2, which is called ergocalciferol. This type of vitamin D2 is difficult for the body to use efficiently and, as most people try to get their vitamin D in this manner, is probably why we see such a large deficiency nationwide.
Why Care about Vitamin D?
Vitamin D plays a vital and multisystemic role in the body. It is necessary for calcium absorption into the bones, and it helps protect against cancer and heart disease as well. Maintaining the correct levels within your blood can also help prevent diabetes, as vitamin D supplementation can increase insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation. Vitamin D is commonly low in people who suffer from anxiety and depression and appropriate levels are needed to achieve optimal cognitive function.
The Sun & Vitamin D
When UVB rays touch your skin, a chemical reaction takes place: your body initiates the process of converting a prohormone in the skin into vitamin D. Once formed, the vitamin heads towards your liver, where the body begins to metabolize it. From the liver it travels to the kidney and there it converts to a hormone the body can use.
Experts recommend that those with darker skin tones receive up to 40 minutes of rich exposure each day. If your skin is much fairer, about 10 minutes is recommended. In the winter it is suggested that you double your exposure. Not only is the amount of time important, however, but the time of day you go out is key as well. The time when the rays will be most effective is between 10am-3pm, when the sun is highest in the sky and your shadow is shorter than you.
If you are worried about over-exposure, wear sunscreen in delicate areas: your face and hands. Your limbs, if exposed, should be left vulnerable to the sun’s UVB rays in order to create the proper amount of vitamin D. Astonishingly, recent research shows that wearing sunblock of SPF 8 or higher actually reduces your body’s ability to make vitamin D3 by 90%.
A blood test is the only way to find out if you have a deficiency. The Next|Health Baseline test can give you a 10,000 foot view of what is going on in your body right now, including your Vitamin D levels.
Supplement Your Vitamin D
As much as we recommend you embrace the natural and best way to absorb vitamin D by spending time outdoors, we sometimes lead busy lives that rob us of those opportunities. At Next|Health, we can help through our robust new VIT D intramuscular injection. IM’s are a quick and effective method to boost your levels, depending on your specific needs and deficiencies. We also recommend our Next|Health Vitamin D Supplement to help maintain your Vitamin D level.
As we move into the next phase of development at NextHealth, we would first like to thank all of our members for being a huge part of our opening to the public! It has been humbling to see the level of engagement and loyalty amongst our fans as we got our first location off the ground, and we can’t wait to tell you about what’s coming.
Our goal at NextHealth has always been to bring you the most cutting edge health and wellness solutions available as soon as they become available. NextHealth 2.0 will do just that. In this world of exponential growth of technology, we see wellness technology evolving at incredible pace. Healthcare is no longer just medicine for illness, it has become an information technology, where human wellness data is being compiled at a frantic pace, and new discovery and innovation is occurring on an almost daily basis!
Full human genetic sequencing, stem cell technology, Krispr gene editing, and nanobots are just around the corner, which will eventually lead to not only increasing our lifespan, but also increasing our "healthspan"- the amount of time we have with a vibrant and energetic life. The cure for cancer, the elimination of disease and the potential to live indefinitely may be a reality that we experience during our lifetimes. I believe that all of us should be the beneficiaries of this technology.
NextHealth will be the first place for you to experience this revolution in wellness. Our core mission is to bring next generation health and wellness technology to everyone. No longer will this knowledge and expertise accessible only to tech billionaires and the elite, we will strive to democratize the benefits that science is bringing us through education and accessibility.
Education is my passion, and I can’t wait to start telling you all that I’ve been learning and experiencing. Through my blog and educational videos on our YouTube channel, I’m going to turn complex scientific knowledge into something that anyone can understand, and, more importantly, use and benefit from.
Accessibility will come by our locations taking the fear and the exorbitant costs out of the equation. Scared of “going to the doctor”? We destroy that apprehension by inviting you to our “Apple store of Health and Wellness, where our staff will be able to immediately take you through the journey without the stuffiness and expense of what most people would consider “traditional medicine”. Accessibility will also come in price, because we won’t charge tens of thousands of dollars like many centers do for the diagnostic and treatment modalities we offer.
Stay tuned to this blog and our YouTube channel. Over the next few weeks we will discuss the newest and most up to date science in the topics of:
Brain health and sleep
Diet and Nutrition
Genomics and cancer detection
Make no mistake, this won’t be the “usual” information on the topics that you may hear on the radio, see on TV, or read about on the internet. I will bring you information you can use today to assess your current wellness status with testing, give you strategies to correct and abnormalities with nutrition and wellness, and tell you what you can do medically to aggressively manage dangerous situations and turn back the clock so you can start feeling and looking younger and more vital today.
I promise to blow your mind with what’s coming, and you will be prepared to take full advantage of this incredible time that we live in. We will bring to you will the ability to look and feel as healthy as you want, possibly, forever!
Dr. Darshan Shah is a physician, surgeon, entrepreneur, and is considered by many to be the "Doctor of the Future." His passion is educating the public on the newest technologies in health & wellness and how to look and feel your best!