We sat down with Blum Center for Health’s Internationally-acclaimed Neurologist, Dr. Jay Lombard, to discuss how we can improve our brain health.
Question: What is most overlooked when it comes to brain health?
Dr. Lombard: Connectivity! How the biological, emotional and sociological functions of the brain are connected is fundamental to the health of both the body and the brain. We need to help all the circuitry work better!
Let’s take Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as an example. From a biological perspective – PTSD is a psychiatric disorder of disconnected pathways in the brain that are not functioning harmoniously. This leads to imbalances and behavioral problems.
Research in PTSD shows a disconnection between the rational prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, which is more emotionally oriented. Patients suffering from PTSD don’t have the ability to override involuntary emotions, such as fear and anxiety, leading to an over-exaggeration of symptoms, and an inability to reduce them through rational and coherent interventions and processes.
We are learning more and more about how all kinds of stress, not just PTSD, interrupts our circuitry.
Question: How can we improve this Connectivity?
Dr. Lombard: The good news is that technologies are now being developed that can help reconnect the circuits and balance those two parts of the brain so they work in coordination, not opposition. For example, we can personalize specific supplements that enhance and stabilize brain biochemistry. One of my favorite non-pharmaceutical options is magnesium taurinate.
Question: Can you tell us more about the impact stress has on the brain and what can be done about this?
Dr. Lombard: Stress can be a neurotoxin. Biological components of stress, like the hormone cortisol, is a very simple measure of one’s stress response. If cortisol is too high in the evening it can lead to sleep problems, changes in appetite, mood changes and even conditions such as metabolic syndrome and heart disease.
Elevated cortisol as a result of stress is a measurable biomarker that can be used in clinical practice. This is helpful because there are approaches we can use to bring balance such as the ability to self-regulate cortisol through exercise, or by reducing certain foods that produce fight or flight responses, such as sugar and salt.
Question: What foods can I eat to promote brain health?
Dr. Lombard: There is no one diet that fits every situation and sometimes I prescribe specific plans like a ketogenic diet for neurodegenerative diseases. However, for the average person, I generally recommend eating a diet is as close to the Mediterranean diet as possible. This is a well-balanced food plan filled with healthy fats, antioxidants, and polyphenols from fruits and veggies. Also, sesame oil for cooking is my particular favorite at medium heat, and so delicious. In other words, make your meal as colorful as possible!
Question: How can a consultation with you help me?
Dr. Lombard: My focus in clinical practice has been to help patients find answers to complex medical issues. The typical patient who has been referred to me in the past have been ” diagnostic dilemmas” where there is an overlay between neurological and behavioral problems.
My approach is not ” functional or Integrative”- it’s based upon systems biology.
Systems biology means having a deeper appreciation for the connection between sub systems such as between the brain and immune system. The good news is that by recognizing these connections clinically we can develop a more patient-centric approach regardless of what a specific diagnosis a patient may or may not have.
The areas of clinical research that I am most familiar with are patients with neurodegenerative disorders. These include ALS, Parkinson’s, MS and early dementia.
Question: What’s your Motto to live by:
Dr. Lombard: Live Your Purpose!