The blood-brain barrier is a protective shield that allows nutrients to enter the brain while keeping harmful components in the bloodstream from passing into the brain. However, many factors can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier. This can allow harmful components to penetrate the blood-brain brain, ultimately causing inflammation and brain health issues. A leaky blood-brain barrier is associated with many mental health issues and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, brain fog, fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia. In the article below, we will discuss natural ways which have been demonstrated to help fix a leaky blood-brain barrier and improve overall brain health.
Improve Gut Health
Understanding the connection between the brain and the gut is important to treat a leaky blood-brain barrier. In 2014, scientists found that a group of mice that didn’t have bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract had very leaky blood-brain barriers. However, when the scientists of the research study introduced bacteria into the intestines of the unhealthy mice through a fecal transfer, their BBB permeability considerably improved. Increasing good bacteria in your gut can ultimately help improve a leaky blood-brain barrier. Eating probiotics, prebiotic fiber, and fermented foods can increase good bacteria in your GI tract.
Avoid Eating Gluten
According to many healthcare professionals, we should avoid eating gluten to promote brain health. In 2006, scientists found that gluten can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier because it increases zonulin, a protein that affects BBB permeability and results in neuroinflammation. Gluten sensitivity or intolerance can also cause visible changes in the white matter of the brain. Dr. David Perlmutter, MD, author of Grain Brain and Brain Maker states that gliadin, another protein found in gluten, can also affect BBB permeability. Moreover, other food sensitivities or intolerances can also cause a leaky blood-brain barrier.
Eat Food with Sulforaphane
Cruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli, among others, have sulforaphane, a phytochemical and well-known antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory properties, similar to turmeric or curcumin. Many research studies have shown that sulforaphane can help improve a leaky blood-brain barrier by decreasing BBB permeability, preventing the breakdown of the BBB, and improving cognitive functions after stroke and traumatic brain injuries. Sulforaphane in myrosinase-activated supplement form can also be taken. Myrosinase is an enzyme in broccoli that helps metabolize sulforaphane.
Eat Food with Resveratrol or Pterostilbene
Foods like raspberries, grapes, red wine, and dark chocolate have resveratrol, another powerful antioxidant with potent anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent the development of neurodegenerative diseases caused by a leaky blood-brain barrier. Scientists have found that eating food with resveratrol can ultimately help promote growth hormones in the brain and support mitochondria function. According to research studies, resveratrol can also protect the blood-brain barrier. Numerous other research studies have also found that eating foods with resveratrol can have other health benefits, including:
- Decreasing a leaky blood-brain barrier
- Protecting the blood-brain barrier
- Improving blood-brain barrier permeability
Research studies have also shown that resveratrol can help protect the blood-brain barrier against oxidized LDL-induced damage. Furthermore, scientists believe that eating food with resveratrol may be a safe and effective way to naturally reduce the severity of multiple sclerosis. Foods like blueberries have pterostilbene, a substance similar to resveratrol, that can also help protect the blood-brain barrier by decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation. Many healthcare professionals also refer to pterostilbene as the “better resveratrol” because it is often believed to be best absorbed by the body than resveratrol.
Drink More Coffee
Caffeine can help promote overall brain health and support the blood-brain barrier. Research studies have shown that drinking coffee can help prevent the development of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, among other health issues, by protecting the BBB. Scientists have also found that caffeine blocks blood-brain barrier permeability. Other research studies have also shown that drinking coffee can help prevent neurodegeneration by balancing the BBB. Because drinking coffee and caffeine can commonly affect sleep, however, make sure to consume these early in the morning.
Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that are primarily found in fish. Although the body can’t produce these by itself, they are necessary for overall brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help increase the growth hormones in the brain, help support mitochondria function, or help people overcome addiction and withdrawal, as well as help protect the blood-brain barrier. Scientists have found that taking omega-3 fatty acids can decrease damage to the BBB following a stroke or TBI and improve BBB permeability in people with multiple sclerosis. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be taken in supplement form.
Take Melatonin and Improve Sleep
Sleep is fundamental for brain health. Poor sleep has also been shown to increase blood-brain barrier permeability. Taking melatonin supplements can also help improve sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that is released by a small gland in the brain, known as the pineal gland. Melatonin helps regulate the circadian rhythm, or sleep and wake cycles. Enough melatonin is necessary to fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply throughout the night. Research studies have also shown that taking melatonin can help balance the blood-brain barrier and prevent further damage following a stroke and/or traumatic brain injury.
Manage and Reduce Stress
According to research studies, stress can ultimately damage the blood-brain barrier. Chronic stress has also been found to increase inflammation and BBB permeability. Fortunately, managing and reducing stress can help fix the blood-brain barrier. Massage, acupuncture, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), emotional freedom techniques (EFT), heart-rate variability (HRV) training, and mindfulness meditation can also help manage and reduce stress. Taking supplements to help improve stress can also include, zinc, magnesium, ashwagandha, and phosphatidylserine, among others.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol
According to healthcare professionals, drinking too much alcohol can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier. Research studies have shown that acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol metabolism, can increase oxidative stress and affect the blood-brain barrier, resulting in inflammation and a variety of neurological diseases and brain health issues. Although some types of alcohol are better than others, it’s best to considerably decrease or avoid drinking alcohol. If you suspect that you may have a leaky blood-brain barrier, make sure to talk to your doctor about how drinking too much alcohol may cause a leaky BBB.
Many factors can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier, ultimately causing increased BBB permeability, oxidative stress, inflammation and a variety of brain and mental health issues, including neurodegenerative diseases. The blood-brain barrier is a protective shield which allows nutrients to enter the brain while keeping harmful components in the bloodstream from passing into the brain. A leaky blood-brain barrier is associated with anxiety, depression, brain fog, fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia. Fortunately, several natural ways have been demonstrated to help improve overall brain health and wellness as well as help fix a leaky blood-brain barrier. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
The blood-brain barrier is a protective shield that allows nutrients to enter the brain while keeping harmful components in the bloodstream from passing into the brain. However, many factors can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier. This can allow harmful components to penetrate the blood-brain brain, ultimately causing inflammation and brain health issues. A leaky blood-brain barrier is associated with many mental health issues and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, brain fog, fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia. In the next article, we will discuss more natural ways which have been demonstrated to help fix a leaky blood-brain barrier and improve overall brain health.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
- The Star Academy. “How to Repair a Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier.” The Star Academy, The Star Academy, 16 Oct. 2018, thestaracademy.co.za/repair-leaky-blood-brain-barrier/.
Neurotransmitter Assessment Form
The following Neurotransmitter Assessment Form can be filled out and presented to Dr. Alex Jimenez. The following symptoms listed on this form are not intended to be utilized as a diagnosis of any type of disease, condition, or any other type of health issue.
Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain
Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.
Neural Zoomer Plus for Neurological Disease
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate neurological diseases. The Neural ZoomerTM Plus is an array of neurological autoantibodies which offers specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus is designed to assess an individual’s reactivity to 48 neurological antigens with connections to a variety of neurologically related diseases. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus aims to reduce neurological conditions by empowering patients and physicians with a vital resource for early risk detection and an enhanced focus on personalized primary prevention.
Food Sensitivity for the IgG & IgA Immune Response
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate health issues associated with food sensitivities. The Food Sensitivity ZoomerTM is an array of 180 commonly consumed food antigens that offers very specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. This panel measures an individual’s IgG and IgA sensitivity to food antigens. Being able to test IgA antibodies provides additional information to foods that may be causing mucosal damage. Additionally, this test is ideal for patients who might be suffering from delayed reactions to certain foods. Utilizing an antibody-based food sensitivity test can help prioritize the necessary foods to eliminate and create a customized diet plan around the patient’s specific needs.
Gut Zoomer for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate gut health associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). The Vibrant Gut ZoomerTM offers a report that includes dietary recommendations and other natural supplementation like prebiotics, probiotics, and polyphenols. The gut microbiome is mainly found in the large intestine and it has more than 1000 species of bacteria that play a fundamental role in the human body, from shaping the immune system and affecting the metabolism of nutrients to strengthening the intestinal mucosal barrier (gut-barrier). It is essential to understand how the number of bacteria that symbiotically live in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract influences gut health because imbalances in the gut microbiome may ultimately lead to gastrointestinal (GI) tract symptoms, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, immune system imbalances, and multiple inflammatory disorders.
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