Root causes of brain dysfunctions!


Depression, anxiety, fatigue have become the new normal of our modern lives. But does it really have to be that way? The simple answer is No! The question here is to ask yourself, what is causing the symptoms to show up in the first place? Read further to know more.

Brain symptoms don’t always show up as Dementia, Alzheimer’s, ADD, or Depression. Sometimes, less than optimally working brains can show up in different ways like-

  • Poor sleep
  • Tired yet wired feeling
  • Consuming stimulants like caffeine to keep going
  • Consuming alcohol for calming effects
  • Swings in mood and energy levels
  • Easily forget things or names
  • Mental and emotional numbness
  • Brain-fog, the inability to focus and be attentive
  • Addictions or eating disorders
  • Unexplained anger
  • Behavioral problems

If you have any of the above symptoms, you may not be living with the best brain health. Neurologists and psychiatrists focus on treating your brain using medications and psychotherapy, which may be helpful sometimes but if taken for long periods come with a whole lot of side effects like sexual dysfunction, fatigue, insomnia, loss of mental abilities, nausea, weight gain. In fact, they only focus on the brain and ignore the rest of the body. What if the cure for the brain is outside the brain? What if mood, memory, attention and behavior problems have their roots in the rest of the body?

Chemical imbalances in the brain lead to problems. The real question to ask is why are those chemicals out of balance and how do we get them back to their natural state of balance? The drugs don’t cure problems but they cover the symptoms. They are not localized in the brain. Our genes, diet, and environment interact to change our brain chemistry and lose their optimal function and the balance of the body and mind. Brain is the most powerful organ of the human body, and it governs many critical functions that help you thrive in life.

All systems of your  body are interconnected. You are one whole person, and all the pieces of your biology and your genetic code interact with your environment (including the food you eat) to determine how sick or well you are at the moment. The body and the mind are connected as well. Brain is not a disembodied organ, it responds to everything that we do, feel, or  think. Factors like exercise, sleep, diet, environmental toxins, stressors of daily life, all of these things influence our microbiome and everything influences the brain. So we really have to think of brain health as something we can fix by fixing the imbalances in the body, to fix the brain.

We are living in a world where we are chronically stressed. This drives our brain to not respond properly, we have to learn how to reset our body by activating the part of the nervous system, that is the relaxation or parasympathetic system as opposed to the fight, flight or freeze response.

Inadequate sleep is an epidemic, good quality and quantity of sleep is really important as it helps in cleaning or detoxing the brain. The metabolic waste that the brain produces, in the process of making energy, is removed at night, when we are sleeping. If you don’t have adequate sleep you are not going to be able to detox well. Ever felt brain-fog, after a disturbed night’s sleep?

Exercise is yet another important factor to address as it increases molecules in the brain called BDNF (Brain derived neurotrophic factors), which helps increase the number of brain cells and increase cognitive function.

Toxins are everywhere in our environment, and it is a very critical element to look at when addressing brain health. We are literally living in a pool of toxins with the polluted air we breathe, metals in the water, additives, preservatives, pesticides in our food, BPA found in plastics and bill receipts, lead in cosmetics and other personal care products & household products, mercury in fish, use of toxic kitchen cookware with Teflon and aluminum, the toxins are everywhere and can cause major neuro degeneration of the brain. This causes the detoxification system to get overwhelmed with continuous exposure and this can cause toxicity in many systems of the body, causing it to dysfunction.

Modern day diets are high in processed food, refined oils, sugar , high fructose corn syrup, which are present in all junk and processed foods, colas to energy snack bars, yoghurt to ham slices, bread, salad dressing and ketchup. Sugar causes crusting in your brain. Think about the crust of the crème brule. Sugar in these foods reacts to the proteins (amino acids) and forms crusts or plaques called AGEs (advanced Glycation end products). These crusty combinations of sugar-protein inflame your brain and damage most cells and tissues along the way.

Apart from this, your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, traumas and life experiences and other psychological factors can have a major impact on your health. Most if not all illnesses are either caused or worsened by stress. Hence the mind influences the body in many ways. And the body directly and powerfully influences the brain. This is known as the mind-body connection. It’s a vicious cycle, for an optimally working brain and body, we need to look at all systems of the human body as an interconnected system and treat it as a whole.


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Functional Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner

Smriti is a leading Health Coach and Functional Medicine Practitioner, based out of Gurgaon, India.