The brain weighs only a few pounds. It makes up about 2% of your overall body mass. But, it uses 25% of all your energy. Your brain requires a lot of energy. A byproduct of energy production is waste.
The rest of your body has an excretory system (lungs, liver, sweat glands, kidneys) that help get rid of waste.
But what about the brain? How does it get rid of waste? Until recently, that was a mystery. Researchers have recently discovered a new system called the glymphatic system. This system is the plumbing of your brain.
In this episode we talk about the importance of this new system for brain health.
We also discuss a new study on cortisol showing the bad effects it has on your brain.
The third study we talk about is on the importance of DHA for brain health. A new study has shown DHA can help prevent Alzheimer’s with it’s unique ability to help improve glucose uptake in brain cells.
TRANSCRIPT OF TODAY'S EPISODE
Dr Martin Jr: 00:03 You’re listening to The Doctor Is In Podcast from martinclinic.com. Although we share a lot of practical and, in our opinion, awesome information, what you hear on this podcast is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. It’s strictly for informational purposes, so enjoy.
Dr Martin Jr: 00:26 Hello. I’m Dr. Martin Junior.
Dr Martin Sr: 00:27 I’m Dr. Martin Senior.
Dr Martin Jr: 00:28 And this is The Doctor Is In podcast and this is episode 159. And today, what we want to do is talk about a couple of new studies that have come out in the last few weeks specifically for brain health. Some really fascinating, real interesting studies have come out and it’s kind of reinforced a lot of things that we’ve been talking about, but really interesting stuff.
Dr Martin Jr: 00:49 So, we’re gonna go through that. It’s kind of funny. We’re recording this podcast. It’s getting near the end of 2018 and you know, all the imaging that we have, right? MRIs and CAT scans and all the abilities, the dissection over the years. All this technology and they’re still discovering new systems in the body that they never knew existed.
Dr Martin Sr: 01:10 Imagine.
Dr Martin Jr: 01:11 It’s incredible, right? Like, I remember last year, it might have been even the beginning of this year they discovered a new ligament in the knee, right? I mean, how many knee surgeries has there been? How many images, MRI images of the knee? And they’ve discovered a new ligament and they thought it was just part of another thing and they realize it’s a separate structure. It has a very specific function. So, it’s always fascinating when they find … and you know, really what happens is every time we get better imaging and we’re able to take a higher magnified picture, they see another layer of stuff that they’d never seen.
Dr Martin Jr: 01:46 Now, what’s interesting about this system that was recently discovered, it has to do with our brain. You see, ’cause the rest of our body has a plumbing system, right? You have an exploratory system, you know, your lungs are part of that. Your liver’s part of that. Your kidney’s part of that. Sweat glands, and they help filter out, because if you think about it, it’s really interesting when you think about it that in order to make energy. We make energy in the form of ATP. You know, everything we eat gets broken down and converted into energy or stored and all these things, but when you make energy, there’s bi-products of that, right? There’s a waste.
Dr Martin Sr: 02:24 Waste. A waste product. It’s like a manufacturing plant, right?
Dr Martin Jr: 02:27 And they’re actually quite toxic, right? The proteins get toxic. You get toxic protein. You get this … it’s just junk. It’s just waste. So, you have a bunch of mechanisms in place inside your body. Sweat, breathing, urinary, all that kind of stuff to get rid of the waste. Before we get too far, this is an interesting bit of trivia. Most people might have heard this by now, but people always say well, what happens to the weight that you lose? You burn it off, where does it go? Right?
Dr Martin Jr: 02:56 How does a person who loses a hundred pounds, where does it go? Like, when they say you’re burning off your fat, but most people don’t realize you’re breathing it away. Right? That’s just what happens to the fat that you eventually break down. Eventually you end up breathing it away. So, that’s what happens to the weight that you lost. It just went away.
Dr Martin Jr: 03:16 So, it’s interesting whenever you make energy, there’s a bi-product. There’s a waste. Our liver and all that stuff, that’s what it does, right? Your lymphatic system will go through the tissues, pull the junk out of there, filter it out. That’s what happens.
Dr Martin Sr: 03:30 Very complex.
Dr Martin Jr: 03:31 Yeah, and a lot of people are very sick, because they’re not able to do that properly, right?
Dr Martin Sr: 03:36 Yeah.
Dr Martin Jr: 03:36 They don’t have enough glutathione for example, which is the –
Dr Martin Sr: 03:39 Master detoxer.
Dr Martin Jr: 03:40 That’s right. Sulphur based, sticky. Sticks to junk. Pulls it out of your body.
Dr Martin Sr: 03:45 Like Velcro.
Dr Martin Jr: 03:46 Like Velcro, right. And people always say, “Well, what’s glutathione?” Just think of Velcro. It just sticks to all the junk and then it also recycles your antioxidants. So, it’s a really complex, interesting, fascinating system that you have in place to get rid of waste, and it’s like your plumbing system, right?
Dr Martin Jr: 04:03 Well, they have always wondered about the brain. They knew … you know, we put out an interesting stat in our newsletter that went out not long ago and we talked about how the brain is less than 2% of your body mass. So, 2% of your whole body mass, if you step on a scale and it says 200 pounds, 2%-
Dr Martin Sr: 04:25 2% of that is your brain.
Dr Martin Jr: 04:27 Is your brain, right? That’s roughly your brain.
Dr Martin Sr: 04:29 Unless you’re a fathead.
Dr Martin Jr: 04:30 Yeah, unless you’re a fathead. But roughly 2% of your body weight’s your brain, that’s it. However, your brain uses about 25% of your body’s energy.
Dr Martin Sr: 04:40 Now that’s incredible.
Dr Martin Jr: 04:41 That’s how much energy your brain needs to function, to maintain function.
Dr Martin Sr: 04:46 Well, it’s headquarters, right?
Dr Martin Jr: 04:47 Yeah. I always say the brain is at the head of a multilevel company, right? It’s the top, it takes a piece of everything, it gets the most of it, the guys at the bottom need less and the guy at the top takes it all. It takes 25% of the energy. So, 2% of your body mass is using 25% of your energy so there has to be a lot of waste. A lot of waste.
Dr Martin Sr: 05:08 A lot of brain waste.
Dr Martin Jr: 05:09 A lot of brain waste. And scientists and researchers never were quite able to figure out the plumbing system of the brain, they couldn’t figure it out. They knew there had to be one ’cause you know, like I said, there is a lot of waste that’s going on and sure enough, they discovered recently a whole new system and they called it the glymphatic system.
Dr Martin Sr: 05:30 Not the lymphatic. The glymphatic.
Dr Martin Jr: 05:33 The glymphatic system and they found that this system is your brain’s plumbing system. And so that’s what happens. And you need this system functioning properly, otherwise you’re in trouble. If you’re not filtering out all that toxic junk, you’re in trouble. So they know that. Anyways, what I found interesting is when they discovered this system, they actually found that it’s most active at nighttime. In fact-
Dr Martin Sr: 05:59 When you sleep.
Dr Martin Jr: 06:00 When you’re sleeping. They found the activity of the glymphatic system doubles at nighttime. So that’s how important sleep is-
Dr Martin Sr: 06:10 Wow.
Dr Martin Jr: 06:10 To a healthy brain. So if you think of the domino effect that poor sleep has. I mean, if you are not going into REM, we already talked about this before but one of the stages of sleep, when you’re going through that REM, it’s like your brain is doing a dump, it’s cleaning itself out, it’s imprinting. I always say that what you see in a daytime, at nighttime, it’s like if-
Dr Martin Jr: 06:35 Yeah, if you’re working on a project all day and then at the end of the day you push save and then it just files it away, that’s how your brain works. It imprints the memories at nighttime when you’re sleeping. And that’s why a lot of drugs that affect your sleep affect your memory because you’re just not going through the …
Dr Martin Sr: 06:52 You’re not saving.
Dr Martin Jr: 06:53 Yes, right, you’re not uploading the mainframe.
Dr Martin Sr: 06:58 And a lot of people said, you know, just to get sidetracked for one split second, just to remind people, be careful about … because some people, they take a sleeping pill and they live on it. Every day, they take it and they think, “Well, it’s just a little pill.” But you need saving. On a sleeping pill-
Dr Martin Jr: 07:18 Well, I find it’s a terrible name, first of all, ’cause you’re not sleeping.
Dr Martin Sr: 07:21 Yeah, your sedated pill.
Dr Martin Jr: 07:21 They call them knock-all pill, yeah, sedating …
Dr Martin Sr: 07:23 It’s a knock-all pill.
Dr Martin Jr: 07:24 Knock-all pill. Because you’re not going through the full REM cycles, you’re not going through all the stages of sleep. Long-term use of that, they know that it’s not good for you, yet, a lot of people are on them, long, long-term. But anyways, it’s fascinating. That’s how important sleep is to your brain because that glymphatic system, that drainage … because your brain is an enclosed system when it comes to blood flow. It’s got its own blood brain barrier, it’s very selective what it allows to cross that into your brain.
Dr Martin Jr: 07:53 So all those things, you know, the brain has its own little unique plumbing system that drains it out of there and then eventually gets discarded out so it’s fascinating stuff. So if you’re not sleeping properly, you’re at a much higher risk of Alzheimer’s because one of the things it does is they found that this glymphatic system clears those amyloid plaques, they found. And what they did is they found mice that when they [inaudible 00:08:20], the mice that didn’t have that glymphatic system, they cleared it at a rate of 50% slower.
Dr Martin Sr: 08:26 So toxins are sitting there, heavy metals, things like candida albicans.
Dr Martin Jr: 08:31 And all that stuff and just causing-
Dr Martin Sr: 08:34 All stuff that goes through the brain.
Dr Martin Jr: 08:35 You can see, sleep is one of those things, I mean, when you’re having sleeping issues, it’s a huge pain. But not only is it a pain in the present, it’s a massive pain in the future and your brain and sleep … like sleep and brain health go hand in hand. If somebody is chronically not sleeping well, they are gonna absolutely have brain issues when they’re older. So that’s one of the things that happens.
Dr Martin Jr: 09:02 Now, as we move on to the next study that we found, so the first study was just talking about the discovery of this glymphatic system and how the brain actually drains itself. So that was fascinating. The second one, what I find interesting is a study that was done, talking about the stress hormone, one that we talk about a lot. We wrote about in our circular book, the two hormones that want you dead. Cortisol is one of the hormones that wants you dead. They found that cortisol is linked to early on your ability to think, your ability to process memories, so again, think of stress. Stress kills your sleep.
Dr Martin Jr: 09:41 We said this many times. But the number one cause of poor sleep in adults is high circulating cortisol and so now, they’re not sleeping, they’re not draining their brain properly, they’re not selling their memories, they’re also … so it’s affecting the brain that way but it also affects … cortisol directly affects their ability to think properly as they age. So just again, interesting facts. And we talk about cortisol. The more we look into cortisol, the more we find the connections to everything else. That’s why we call it the accelerant.
Dr Martin Jr: 10:18 Cortisol will accelerate. It’s like jet fuel. It will send you in that direction you are going in bad. It just makes it that much worse. If you have a bad gut, cortisol makes your gut even worse. If you have sore joints, cortisol makes your joints even worse.
Dr Martin Sr: 10:36 And it’s usually, you’ve said this many a time but cortisol is the accelerant, the inflammation is already there and then it’s putting gasoline on the fire big time. And jet fuel gas makes it worse, right?
Dr Martin Jr: 10:51 And what’s interesting is with this study, they found that higher cortisol levels in the blood, so when they measured cortisol levels found actual physical changes in the brain that are often seen, and this is what the study says, as precursors to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. So I mean that’s the effect that cortisol has on the brain. Cortisol is another pathway to Alzheimer’s or dementia. And what particularly I found … so they found, first of all, if you have higher levels of cortisol, the person performed worse on memory, organization, visual perception and attention. And it makes sense. Think of what happens to your brain when you’re really stressed, right? Those are the things that kind of go away.
Dr Martin Jr: 11:32 Well, imagine that now on a long-term. But what was interesting was the link between high cortisol levels and performance was worse in women. It seems to affect women’s’ brains even more than a man’s brain. You and I talked about, a few episodes ago, how cortisol affects men testosterone-wise, women it affects everything. I mean, now we already it messes their thyroid, it affects their estrogen levels, kills their progesterone levels. But we also see now that it actually affects their brain. So one of the side effects of high cortisol is brain issues.
Dr Martin Jr: 12:07 And we know that. I mean that’s stuff … somebody that has high levels of cortisol, they generally do have brain fog or they have some kind of brain issue but it’s interesting, researchers catching up to that. Something that we’ve seen-
Dr Martin Sr: 12:22 And, if you come, take it another step in a sense that traditionally, if you have a cortisol, maybe your anxiety levels are [inaudible 00:12:32], what do you do, you’re often put on a medication and again, you know, we talked about anything that puts you to sleep but any kind of med that plays around with your hormones, your serotonin and these type of things, your feel good hormones, I mean, think of it. There again, these things affect your brain over a period of time. And it’s a double whammy. It might give you temporary relief but it’s just sedation.
Dr Martin Jr: 13:02 That’s all it is.
Dr Martin Sr: 13:04 It’s driving down the highway, you hear a knock in the engine and let’s turn the radio up, it’s not fixing it. You’ve gotta go over the cortisol and fix it, get it down.
Dr Martin Jr: 13:14 And we should probably say one more thing and this is also, I find interesting is that cortisol does not distinguish between physical and emotional stress. Mental or physical, the body just reacts. It doesn’t distinguish between the two. So it could be a physical stress, it could be emotional stress, it could be a mental stress, it could be anything. Cortisol is like cowbell, like the old Saturday night live skits.
Dr Martin Sr: 13:44 You just need more cowbell.
Dr Martin Jr: 13:46 Cowbell fixes everything, you just need more cowbell. That’s what your body does. Stress? Here is cortisol. The more stress, more cortisol.
Dr Martin Sr: 13:53 Yeah. Whether you’re being scared at night because somebody is coming behind you or a tiger is chasing you-
Dr Martin Jr: 13:59 Or you’re sitting at a desk, stressed with life.
Dr Martin Sr: 14:02 Yeah. It loves women because women have such a hard time. I mean, they can’t turn their brain off and then it’s just a vicious cycle, they can’t sleep and they’re up. They might fall asleep, they’re exhausted and then they’re up.
Dr Martin Jr: 14:16 I remember reading a paper about a study and it got some actual press behind it how men … we actually have a place in our brain that we can go to that nothing. So when a guy says, “What are you thinking about,” we say, “Nothing,” literally, we have the ability, sometimes, to think about nothing. So it’s interesting. We can sometimes say, “Yeah, literally nothing.” Whereas women don’t have that nothing box in a sense, they’ve always … the brain’s just going. And we see that cortisol affects their brain differently. And studies are starting to show that it seems to be affecting them, especially when it comes to a lot of the mental thinking. Cortisol just seems to affect that. So it’s interesting.
Dr Martin Jr: 14:56 Which, again, is why we talk so much about … we talk a lot about insulin, we talk a lot about cortisol. Those are the things that can just rob you of your health and from head to toe. And the more we’re studying cortisol, the more we see the effect on the brain, just fascinating.
Dr Martin Jr: 15:11 And one more study that we wanna talk about quickly here about the brain and this has to do specifically with DHA, they found that DHA may actually bypass what they call a faulty brain transport in Alzheimer’s disease. So they find … or first of all, the DHA, ’cause people always say, “Well, what do you mean by DHA?” Well, DHA is a type of Omega 3 fatty acid. It’s a type of Omega 3. There are different types of Omega 3, EPA is another well-known one. There is DHA and we’re fans of DHA, we like EPA as well. But for what we see and what we do, we really like DHA because DHA makes up a big percentage of the brain. You know, your brain is, what? 60% fat?
Dr Martin Sr: 16:00 That’s why I said, if someone calls you a fathead, take it as a compliment, right?
Dr Martin Jr: 16:04 And DHA makes up 30% of the lipids in your brain, just DHA. So that’s how important. And that’s why studies are showing people that have blood levels, chronically low blood levels of DHA have smaller brains, their brain shrinks. It makes sense, if 30% of your brain volume is DHA and you’re not getting it, it only makes sense that your brain will shrink.
Dr Martin Jr: 16:27 And as we’ve said before, as you age, your brain shrinks, that’s normal. It isn’t normal if it shrinks too fast. Anyways, that’s interesting. But what they found which is … think of the effect that this can have because one of the problems that people have with the brain as they age is this concept of Type 3 Diabetes where the brain can become insulin resistant, the brain can become diabetic.
Dr Martin Sr: 16:51 The brain becomes diabetic before you do, really. You know, we’ve always said it too, is that the body will do everything, everything, everything it can so that you’re not diabetic. Take sugar out of your blood stream, it’s so tightly regulated, we always go over that.
Dr Martin Jr: 17:09 It puts the priority on keeping it out of your blood so it’ll put it everywhere else.
Dr Martin Sr: 17:12 Everywhere else.
Dr Martin Jr: 17:13 And eventually, your organs pay the price. And the brain … one of the problems with the brain with diabetes, they found, when the brain becomes diabetic or Type 3 Diabetes and they get dementia, Alzheimer’s, is there’s a problem with the way that the brain glucose is used. There’s an uptake problem by the cells, they can’t utilize that energy properly anymore because the cells have basically become insulin resistant, they just don’t work as well as they used to.
Dr Martin Jr: 17:39 But what they found is, DHA-
Dr Martin Sr: 17:42 Helps.
Dr Martin Jr: 17:43 Actually promotes brain glucose uptake and it does that by regulating specific proteins. So DHA is so important for brain health. It’s just absolutely-
Dr Martin Sr: 17:54 It’s one of our foundational things that we talk about.
Dr Martin Jr: 17:56 Yeah, when we talk about … we have a great presentation … by the time this podcast comes out it should be available on our website. It’s just a presentation that you and I did called age-proofing your brain. And we really put it together for people that are worried about the health of their brain as they age because one of the problems that occurs is that people … their body tends to outlive their brain. And again, if the brain uses 25% of the energy it’s a beast and the beast needs to be fed. It needs the proper nutrients.
Dr Martin Jr: 18:26 So, there’s a lot of reasons why the brain we call breaking bad like the TV show, why the brain goes bad. There’s a lot of reasons for that. And so we did that presentation. And in that presentation, we talk a lot about different causes, different things that will cause the brain to break down. It always starts with inflammation but there’s a lot of different reasons why people end up with inflammation for example, some may end up with inflammation because of high-circulating insulin. So they’re diabetic. Half the people with dementia have higher insulin so that affects the majority of the people.
Dr Martin Sr: 18:59 That’s food.
Dr Martin Jr: 19:00 That’s food. And then, we talk about as well the effect that leaky gut has on the information in the brain.
Dr Martin Sr: 19:06 Leaky gut, yeah.
Dr Martin Jr: 19:08 And then we talk about free radical damage, so there’s a lot of-
Dr Martin Sr: 19:10 Oxidative damage.
Dr Martin Jr: 19:12 There’s not one cause for everybody but if you reverse engineer, which we do in that presentation, Alzheimer’s, dementia, you go back, inflammation was there but what caused that inflammatioN? But in there as well, we share with you some of the things that we recommend for brain health. And you know, we talk a lot about DHA. Of course, we talk about curcumin ’cause curcumin and DHA are like that dynamic duo for the brain. They play off each other, they’re very synergistic and then we talk about a few other things. We like certain-
Dr Martin Sr: 19:43 B12.
Dr Martin Jr: 19:44 B12, [inaudible 00:19:46], you know, there is certain ones that we like. But DHA, again, it’s one of those things, we just think everybody should be taking some form of an Omega 3, preferably DHA.
Dr Martin Sr: 19:56 High DHA.
Dr Martin Jr: 19:57 High DHA.
Dr Martin Sr: 19:58 Read your labels, folks. When you look at an Omega … all Omega 3 is good, you’ve got a thousand, usually a thousand milligrams in a capsule and people … I say, “Well, turn it around, read the label. You’ll understand it very quickly. Look and see how much DHA is in there. There will be DHA and EPA.” And for a lot of people, they go, “Oh, I’m taking 1,000 milligrams.” No, you’re not.
Dr Martin Jr: 20:22 You’re getting less than 200.
Dr Martin Sr: 20:23 You’re getting the 1,000 milligrams of total Omega 3. But you gotta look and see how much DHA.
Dr Martin Jr: 20:29 Yeah, [inaudible 00:20:29] out of the EPA and DHA, it’s always less than three, 400 milligrams, maybe 150 DHA.
Dr Martin Sr: 20:35 Out of that 1,000 milligrams, you’ve got two or 300, maybe. So the higher the DHA. DHA is a long chain, the reason it’s so good … I mean, your brain is made up of it but it’s that healthy, healthy long-chain fatty acid and the longer it is, the more bioavailable it is, your body is able to take it, it’s utilized better and it’s absorbed better in your system.
Dr Martin Jr: 21:04 And it’s a great source of fuel for the brain. The brain likes it.
Dr Martin Sr: 21:08 Your brain loves it.
Dr Martin Jr: 21:08 The brain loves it.
Dr Martin Jr: 21:09 Well, we wanna thank you for listening to this episode. We enjoyed doing it. We’re almost, like I said, boy it’s crazy here. You know, we’re recording this, it’s the last day, Halloween today, last day of-
Dr Martin Sr: 21:21 No sugar.
Dr Martin Jr: 21:22 October. Yeah.
Dr Martin Sr: 21:25 Good luck.
Dr Martin Jr: 21:25 People bounce off the walls already but yeah, it’s amazing how fast time’s flying but we’re entering into that season now where the sun is just not there. You know, we’re not exposing our arms, we’re not exposing our legs anymore so this is the time of year where you also wanna start thinking about Vitamin D.
Dr Martin Sr: 21:42 Vitamin D.
Dr Martin Jr: 21:42 Make sure that you’re getting enough of that. So again, thank you for listening, have a great day.
Dr Martin Sr: 21:48 Thanks for listening to the Doctor Is In Podcast from martinclinic.com. If you have any questions, you can reach us at email@example.com. If you’re not a newsletter subscriber, you can head to our website and sign up for free. We also have a private Facebook group that you can join. It’s a community of awesome people. Finally, I do a Facebook live every Thursday morning at 8:30. Join us again next week for a new episode.