You may have heard the phrase “brain fog.” Are you having difficulty concentrating, remembering names and appointments, and keeping track of your glasses or keys? Are you easily distracted and less focused? Do you feel you are not as sharp or on-the-ball as you once were? Do you worry, “If I am like this now, what am I going to be like in ten years?”
In moments of desperation, do you wonder, “Am I losing it?” The loss of memory and mental sharpness is not a natural part of aging. It is an accumulation of causes and deficiencies over the years.
The good news is that the brain is plastic. Plasticity, or neuroplasticity, is the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences. Brain degeneration is not inevitable. You can reinvigorate, protect, and maintain your brain. This requires that you “clean up your act” removing toxins, supply your brain with the nutrients and oxygen it needs, and enjoy a therapeutic lifestyle. Here are just a few examples of causes of brain fog.
- Stress and anxiety
- Neurotransmitter imbalance: low dopamine, low glutamate, low epinephrine
- Metabolic diseases such as thyroid gland diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lung, liver, or kidney failure
- Vitamin B-12 and nutrient deficiency
- Food Allergies and Gluten sensitivities
- Drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter
What are considered toxins?
If you drink unfiltered tap water, spray insecticides in your garden, smoke, or eat foods filled with pesticides, you are exposing your brain to toxins. Personal skin care products are also filled with toxins, some of which are carcinogens. Dangerous chemicals are found in tooth paste, hair shampoo, conditioners, shaving cream, anti-perspirants, and moisturizers.
Learn about a few of the top ingredients and contaminants to avoid, based on the science linking each to adverse health impacts, and the types of products they’re found in. To learn more about how chemicals impact your health and where they come from, check out www.safecosmetics.org in the Your Body, Your Health section. Also avoid products containing the following chemicals: triclosan, laurel sulfate, formaldehyde, hydroquinone, phthalates, 1,4-dioxane, parabens, nitrosamines, lead, and other heavy metals.
How can we find out what toxins are in our bodies?
Using the Acumen blood test we can identify which toxins you have and if those toxins are stuck to your DNA. If toxins are stuck to your DNA they can shut down the function of a gene. These genes may be those that protect our cells or protect us against cancer. This is very important information for an individual and their physician to know. The toxins can be anything from heavy metals, plastics, hair dyes, chemicals in shampoos to over the counter medications that have not been completely metabolized. When the toxins are identified, they can be removed by specific intravenous therapies.
What role does stress play?
Any product or event that causes stress and anxiety to the body creates inflammation. An inflamed brain does not function optimally. Evaluate your life and remove as many stressors as possible. The remaining stressors that are not in your control to change are exactly that…not in your control to change. For your brain and your health learn techniques to minimize the effect you allow them to have on you. Delegate, meditate, breathe, exercise, and let go of stressors that are other people’s responsibilities.
Others sources of inflammation include food allergies, gluten sensitivities, chronic illnesses, insomnia, infections and neurotransmitter imbalances. Specific tests can determine if you have a food allergy, gastrointestinal infection or a neurotransmitter imbalance.
If your neurotransmitters are not in balance brain fog will occur. Low levels of dopamine, nor-epinephrine, epinephrine, or glutamate create lack of focus and low brain function. However, specific amino acids can correct the imbalance for better brain function.
How does nutrition play a part in brain fog?
According to Dr. Perlmutter, a well known neurologist, the single most important thing you can do to keep your brain functioning at its peak and prevent brain aging is what you put on your plate. It’s as simple as that. Nutrition is the most important tool for staying mentally and physically fit. It is also by far the most underutilized tool. When you think about it, the only way we live and heal is by the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.
The most important nutrient for your brain is fat. Yes, fat. Fats are not a four letter word. Fat comprises 60% of our brain and 60%-80% of our 100 trillion cell walls. We need fat. Brain friendly fats include olive, avocado oils, and safflower oil. Nuts and avocados are also good sources. Eat more good fats such as essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and Omega 6.
Beware of saturated fats found in animal products; they can raise homocysteine levels, the amino acid that can be toxic to your brain. Also try to avoid the trans fats found in processed baked goods and fried foods. They make rigid, tough, slow brain cells. Get these fats off your plate.
Keep using your brain!
No matter how “normal” memory lapses may be, let’s face it, that doesn’t make them any less frustrating. Experts agree that the best way to keep your brain fit is to keep using it.
Things to help you remember:
- Keep lists.
- Follow a routine.
- Make associations (connect things in your mind), such as using landmarks to help you find places.
- Keep a detailed calendar.
- Put important items, such as your keys, in the same place every time.
- Repeat names when you meet new people.
- Do things that keep your mind and body busy.
- Run through the ABC’s in your head to help you think of words you’re having trouble remembering. “Hearing” the first letter of a word may jog your memory.
Memory problems that aren’t part of normal aging:
- Forgetting things much more often than you used to
- Forgetting how to do things you’ve done many times before
- Trouble learning new things
- Repeating phrases or stories in the same conversation
- Trouble making choices or handling money
- Not being able to keep track of what happens each day
It may be hard to figure out on your own if you have a serious problem. Talk to your doctor or a neurologist about any concerns you have. If a specific medication you take is causing memory problems, your doctor can prescribe another medicine that doesn’t have this side effect. If another condition is causing your memory loss (such as depression), your doctor can help you treat the condition using natural amino acids in specific therapies.
The bottom line is that you are in charge of your brain. You can be alert and focused. Eat well, decrease your stress, remove toxins, and read all labels!
References are available upon request.