8 Ways to Support Blood-Brain Barrier Health
In our last article, we discussed the blood-brain barrier and how a “leaky brain” can negatively affect your health. Now let’s take a look at a few things you can do to help heal your leaky brain and maintain a healthy blood-brain barrier (BBB) for years to come.
1. Only eat when you’re hungry
We’ve all eaten when we’re not hungry. Most people do it on a daily basis to some extent. But when you eat when you’re not hungry, you’re depriving yourself of better digestion, blood-sugar regulation, and growth hormone production.1 These 3 things are critical for blood-brain barrier health. And in fact, ghrelin—a hunger hormone that is a precursor to growth hormone production—has even been shown to prevent blood-brain barrier disruption after traumatic brain injuries.2
When we say only eat when you’re hungry, it doesn’t mean taking it to an extreme. You only need to wait until you are moderately hungry before you eat, not be absolutely starving. Try to stick to an eating schedule that ensures you will be hungry close to your mealtime.
2. Avoid smoking and drinking
You know about the dangers of smoking, but did you know that nicotine can also cause a leaky brain? A 2004 study found that chronic nicotine exposure increases BBB permeability along with altering tight junction protein distribution in the brain.3
Alcohol is also problematic for the blood-brain barrier. While moderate amounts of wine may have a beneficial effect, research shows that excess alcohol can lead to BBB damage.4
3. Get enough sleep
The overall quality of sleep is also important for blood-brain barrier health. If you get 8 hours of sleep but still wake up tired and groggy, you may not be getting the deep sleep your body needs. A sleep study can help determine whether sleeping soundly is an issue for you.
Additionally, follow these tips to ensure that you get enough quality sleep:
- Sleep in a dark room or wear a sleep mask
- Don’t use a computer or cell phone before bed
- Eat your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bed.
- Consider taking a melatonin supplement
4. Take nutritional supplements
Your blood-brain barrier requires a number of nutrients to keep it functioning properly. While you would ideally get these nutrients from food, getting everything your body and mind needs from your diet is difficult these days.
If you have the symptoms of a leaky brain, adding the following supplements to your daily regimen can help:
- Prebiotics and probiotics
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin C
- Alpha-lipoic acid
These and other beneficial supplements for the BBB can be scanned using ZYTO biocommunication technology.
5. Avoid inflammatory foods
Recent research has found a link between the blood-brain barrier and systemic inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease.6 This suggests that inflammation can indeed lead to a compromised blood-brain barrier, leading to serious health problems such as Alzheimer’s and other neurogenerative disorders.
Now that we know controlling inflammation is key in maintaining a healthy BBB, we should avoid the following inflammatory foods in our diet as much as possible:
- Fried foods
- Refined flour
- Processed foods
- Trans fats
6. Reduce EMF exposure
Computers, cell phones, and Wi-Fi have made life easier in a lot of ways. But this technology also produces EMF pollution, which can be harmful to the blood-brain barrier.7
While we can’t all go live in the wilderness and leave our electronics behind, there are things we can do to limit EMF exposure and help protect the integrity of the BBB:
- Turn off your Wi-Fi at night (Or better yet, use a wired Internet connection)
- Get a radiation-blocking cell phone case
- Use your cell phone speaker or an air tube headset
- Remove all electronics from your bedroom
- Walk barefoot on your lawn every day
7. Consume antioxidant-rich foods
As mentioned, systemic inflammation can damage the BBB. Along with avoiding inflammatory foods, adding antioxidant-rich foods to your diet can help reduce inflammation. Some of the best antioxidant foods are blueberries, salmon, dark chocolate, and leafy greens.
Antioxidant-rich foods are not only beneficial for the BBB, but also the health of your gut. Curcumin, for example, has been found to reduce intestinal inflammation8 and can help heal a leaky gut. Antioxidants offer a number of other benefits as well, including helping you look and feel younger.
8. Reduce stress
Stress is the underlying cause of many mental and physical ailments. It elevates cortisol levels which can lead to cognitive decline, thyroid and metabolic dysfunction, immune suppression, and more. Research shows that acute stress increases permeability of the blood-brain barrier as well.9
One of the most effective ways to manage stress is to meditate daily. Just 10 to 20 minutes a day can significantly reduce stress, leading to enhanced mood, improved digestion, and lower blood pressure.10 To further reduce stress, you may also want to consider things like qigong, massage, acupuncture, and perception reframing.
1. “Why You Should Let Yourself Get Hungry.” MaryVanceNC.com. Maryvancenc.com.
2. Lopez, N.E., M.J. Krzyzaniak, et al. “Ghrelin Prevents Disruption of the Blood-Brain Barrier after Traumatic Brain Injury.” Journal of Neurotrauma 29, no. 2 (2012).
3. Hawkins, B.T., T.J. Abbruscato, et al. “Nicotine increases in vivo blood-brain barrier permeability and alters cerebral microvascular tight junction protein distribution.” Brain Research 1-2 (2004): 48-58.
4. Haorah, J., B. Knipe, et al. “Alcohol-induced blood-brain barrier dysfunction is mediated via inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor (IP3R)-gated intracellular calcium release.” Journal of Neurochemistry 100, no. 2 (2007): 324-326.
5. He, Junyun, H. Hsuchou, et al. “Sleep Restriction Impairs Blood-Brain Barrier Function.” The Journal of Neuroscience 34, no. 44 (2014): 14697-14706.
6. Takeda, S., N. Sato, & R. Morishita. “Systemic inflammation, blood-brain barrier vulnerability and cognitive/non-cognitive symptoms in Alzheimer disease: relevance to pathogenesis and therapy.” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (2014).
7. “EMF and Blood Brain Barrier.” EMF Research. Emfresearch.com.
8. “Mazieiro, R., R.R. Frizon, et al. “Is Curcumin a Possibility to Treat Inflammatory Bowel Diseases?” Journal of Medicinal Food 21, no. 11 (2018): 1077-1085.
9. Esposito, P., D. Gheorghe, et al. “Acute stress increases permeability of the blood-brain-barrier through activation of brain mast cells.” Brain Research 888, no. 1 (2001): 117-127.
10. “Meditation, Stress, and Your Health.” WebMD LLC. Webmd.com.