Insane Medicine – Protecting your brain – the blood brain barrier

  • The brain is protected by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) which is composed of densely packed cells in the blood vessels that prevent entry of most substances into the brain. It does allow oxygen and nutrients, along with hormones to enter from the blood supply, but it blocks most other agents and bacteria. The BBB also removes brain waste matter such as beta-amyloid proteins that cause Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Breakdown of the BBB can result in catastrophic brain injury or death. It has been found that a number of factors can increase such a failure of the BBB. The first is sleep deprivation. In such cases, the BBB is weakened,allowing passage of drugs and chemicals that generally cannot enter the brain and results in brain damage.
  • High blood pressure, traumatic brain injury, obesity, viral infections, and inflammation also weaken the BBB. Again, a failed BBB results in brain damage slowly over time, especially by the¬†accumulation of beta- amyloid, which leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

Preventing BBB failure:

  • Eat a diet high in Thiamine (Vitamin B-1) : pork, whole grains, sunflower seeds, kale, beans, and peas have a lot of Vitamin B-1.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Prevent brain injury: wear a helmet
  • Reduce cholesterol levels. High levels disrupt the BBB.
  • Consume caffeinated drinks, which block disruptions in the BBB.
  • Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep.
  • Lose weight, avoid obesity.
  • Avoid chemicals – some of which are toxic, such as polychlorinated biphenyls and the drug ecstasy, all of which disrupt the BBB.

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