1. Bumped your head ages ago? It’s not too late to heal your brain

    They say that April is Parkinson's Awareness Month -- and as someone who's lived with a Parkinson's diagnosis for over a dozen years, I can't let it slip by without a mention.

    Of course, I’m a little skeptical of any of these “awareness months” for any disease or health concern, as we need to be aware all 12 months out of the year.

    So, whether it’s March, April, May, or beyond, I’ll keep bringing you the latest in what risk factors you should avoid and what natural therapies can help.

    The newest research to come out isn’t about a neurotoxin that may cause Parkinson’s… or even a new-fangled gadget or exercise routine that may help you gain some control over your movements.

    It’s about your head – specifically how what happens to the outside of it can mess up the inside.

    In recent years, we've heard a lot about how concussions are par for the course among NFL players and professional boxers. But unfortunately, these traumatic brain injuries can also strike mere mortals who suffer some kind of bump or blow to the head, too.

    And according to a new study, having even ONE concussion over the course of your life can significantly boost your chances of developing Parkinson's disease later on.

    In the study, UCSF researchers followed over 325,000 U.S. military veterans -- half of whom had experienced TBI at some point in their past -- for a dozen years.

    None of the vets had Parkinson's when the study began -- but by the end, those in the TBI group were 56 percent MORE likely to develop Parkinson's than those in the other.

    And those with a history of more severe TBI were 83 percent more likely to develop Parkinson's than those without TBI.

    Why? Well, it could be that dopamine-producing cells get damaged when your brain rattles around inside your skull – and we know that those are the very cells that die off in Parkinson's.

    More research is needed to find out if TBI could cause the buildup of abnormal proteins in your gray matter, a hallmark of Parkinson’s.

    TBI has also been linked to ongoing brain inflammation AND the disruption of your brain's ability to clear out toxins -- both of which are risk factors for Parkinson's.

    Now, there's no way to turn back the clock and undo a concussion you've had in the past. But fortunately, there are some therapies you can try, including:

    • Natural anti-inflammatories like resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes (and also available in supplement form), can ease the impact of concussion on your brain -- even DECADES after the fact.
    • Green tea’s plant compounds and caffeine have neuroprotective effects that counteract concussion and slash your risk of Parkinson's.
    • High doses of vitamin E and C may improve brain function after TBI.

    If you've had TBI in the past, talk to a doc who’s well-versed in integrative medicine about a treatment plan that's right for you.

    And if you haven’t, this doesn’t mean that you have to walk around wearing a football helmet. Just tread carefully when you’re moving about – especially if you’re a little on the older side and/or you’re on any meds that make you feel “loopy.”

    Seniors are particularly susceptible to concussions from falls, so wear those glasses, for goodness’ sake!

  2. Good for your bones... but bad for your BRAIN?

    If you've been reading my eTips for a while, you know that I was diagnosed with Parkinson's over a dozen years ago.

    Fortunately, I've been able to keep the disease from progressing with diet, exercise, and DETOX -- because we know that toxins from pesticides and other environmental sources are a major trigger of Parkinson's disease.

    And now, surprising new research suggests that a nutrient we usually consider to be a cornerstone of good health may become toxic if too much of it winds up in your brain.

    I'm talking about CALCIUM!

    Now, we don't know exactly what gets the ball rolling on Parkinson's, but we do know that the disease is linked to an abnormal buildup of a protein called "alpha-synuclein" inside nerve cells in your brain.

    In the study, University of Cambridge researchers looked through a super-strong microscope at the impossibly tiny sacs (a.k.a. "vesicles") at the ends of those nerve cells.

    And they saw that when levels of calcium increased inside the cells, alpha-synuclein started to build up.

    It stuck to the vesicles... and made the vesicles stick to one another... setting the stage for those abnormal Parkinson's deposits.

    Now, your brain needs SOME calcium in order to function properly, because it plays a vital role in how nerve cells communicate with one another. And as you know full well, the mineral is also essential for strong bones and heart health.

    But these results suggest that there can be too much of a good thing -- and many factors can send your calcium levels dangerously high.

    Consuming a lot of low-fat dairy products is one potential culprit. You see, calcium isn't found in the fatty portion of the milk, so when the fat is removed, the remaining milk has concentrated levels of calcium.

    And previous studies have shown that people who eat three or more servings of low-fat dairy products each day are nearly 35 percent more likely to develop Parkinson's than those who don't even eat one!

    To hit the sweet spot with your calcium intake, choose full-fat dairy over low-fat and/or look to natural sources like broccoli, leafy greens, almonds, and sardines.

    Another common culprit in calcium overload is an overactive thyroid, so you want to get your thyroid hormones checked every year.

    Being a chronic couch potato can cause your bones to release calcium into your blood -- as can taking certain blood pressure meds and taking too much vitamin D without pairing it with enough magnesium.

    Aim to get some exercise at least twice weekly... and talk to a doc who is well-versed in integrative medicine about the right dosages of calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium supplements for you.

  3. Inflammation linked to Parkinson's disease

    Turn down the heat... inside your brain? "You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain." When Jerry Lee Lewis sang those famous lyrics, it was about being in the throes of passion... not the throes of illness. But funnily enough, those words can also be used to describe what neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's can do to your gray matter...
  4. Control Parkinson's disease by avoiding toxins

    You don't have to stop the music for Parkinson's For half a century, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond has been giving the world smash hits like "Sweet Caroline" and "America." And in recent months, he's been celebrating his "golden" anniversary of making toe-tapping tunes by touring all over the globe. But now, it's all come to a screeching halt -- for a...
  5. How exercise slows Parkinson's progression

    How working out can keep you moving Q: I'm struggling to manage my Parkinson's disease. Because I'm having trouble controlling my movements, I'm not getting out much anymore. What can I do? GR: It's the oldest "resolution" in the book -- and it's also the one least likely to stick: the pledge to get more exercise in the new year...
  6. High-intensity exercise slows Parkinson's progression

    The treadmill trick to putting the brakes on Parkinson's When you've got Parkinson's disease, it can really feel like things are spiraling out of your control. Take it from me, as I've managed to keep my own Parkinson's under control for over a dozen years now. Your tremors seem to have a mind of their own... and your limbs might...
  7. Weed killer’s scary new link to Parkinson's

    What's the fall harvest bounty doing to your brain? From Brussels sprouts and beets... to parsnips and persimmons... there's an abundant harvest of fall fruits and veggies hitting stores right about now. And as you fill your shopping cart with the fiber- and nutrient-dense bounty of the season, you're taking a key step toward benefitting everything from your gut to...
  8. Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids improve Parkinson's symptoms

    Toxins are no match for these triple-threat nutrients From pesticides in the food we eat... to chemicals in the products we use on our bodies and in our homes... sometimes it seems like there's "nowhere to run to" and "nowhere to hide" from toxins in our daily lives. Now, we already know that being exposed to toxins can DOUBLE your...
  9. Low-fat dairy may trigger Parkinson’s

    Dangerous news about dairy There's a common misconception about food that I'd like to clear up right now. You may be reaching for low-fat products because you've been told that fat is bad... and that the less fat there is in your food, the better. And yes, "low fat" products may have fewer calories -- but that doesn't mean they're...
  10. Ambien increases Parkinson's risk

    Ditch this bitter pill to protect your brain It's the middle of the night, and all you want is to be sleeping peacefully -- but your body decides that it's time for a three-ring circus. Your mind starts walking a tightrope... your bladder does a juggling act... and your arthritis aches more than if you were a human cannonball. As...

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