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Digestion and Hydration for Brainpower


 

Digestion


What we put in our body and how well we can absorb nutrients affects so many bodily functions, including brain health. Recent studies have shown that poor gut health can precede neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

 

An unhealthy gut can trigger chronic inflammation. Ongoing inflammation causes tissues to be destroyed throughout the body and can cause cognitive symptoms such as poor memory, concentration, and decision making.


Diseases associated with chronic inflammation: diabetes, heart disease, allergies, arthritis, cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn's, colitis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's


 

Digestion and Chinese Medicine


In Chinese Medicine the Spleen and Stomach organs relate to overall immunity as well as digestive function. The Spleen works to transform our food and liquid in to usable energy resources for our body. When Spleen energy is weak you may have sensitive digestion or not be able to properly absorb the nutrients from your food.

In addition to digestive issues (bloating, gas, indigestion) your Spleen may need a boost if you have symptoms of fatigue, foggy headedness, hard to wake in the morning, and overthinking.


Try adding these foods to your diet to help reduce inflammation and support digestive function: turmeric, green tea, garlic, ginger, cinnamon.


 

Hydration


In large part, the brain contains water which allows for electrical activity of the nervous system. Studies have shown that reduced hydration impacts cognition, processing speed, and attention. This is especially true for women. As we age ongoing stress of dehydration increases inflammation in the brain. This can lead to long term consequences including increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline.


Role of thirst in Chinese Medicine

Perhaps you're dehydrated because you are not feeling thirsty. Here is how thirst may be connected to your health according to traditional Chinese Medicine:

 

Thirsty, but no desire to drink: This trait is connected to an idea of the body's inability to transform and metabolize food or liquids and is considered "dampness". This indicates liquids pool and there may be edema, swelling, heaviness, foggy-headedness, poor digestion, as well as thirst without wanting to drink.

Not thirsty: Yin and yang are a centerpiece of Chinese Medicine.The nature of yang is warming and energizing and if yang is deficient, metabolism and thought processes slow. Likely symptoms include aversion to cold, lethargy, lack of motivation, fatigue, puffiness or swelling, low libido, weak back and knees, weight gain, and lack of thirst. 

Thirsty: Feeling thirsty often, especially for cold drinks is a sign of heat in your body. This could also be accompanied by irritability, restlessness, constipation, insomnia. The underlying pattern of heat can come from infection or inflammation.

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