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Everyday Brain Damage

There has been a steady rise in the cases of Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive impairments in recent years. This can probably be ascribed in part to people living longer. In other words they have more time to develop cognitive disorders. But a number of researchers are now saying that neurotoxins we are exposed to in everyday life are to blame as well.

What are these damaging substances we need to look out for? A short list follows. Some of these directly damage the cells of the brain, while others - like the first on the list - prevent the normal functioning of systems and substances that keep the brain healthy.

Antacids

Although they may provide some relief from excess stomach acid, antacids also prevent proteins from fully digesting and reduce the body's ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. The subsequent nutritional deficiencies (in vitamin b-12 in particular) can lead to mental fatigue and cognitive problems. Generally this is only an issue if you use antacids more than once per week.

An alternative? Common remedies that do less damage include not eating for several hours before you go to bed, and avoiding certain substances. The latter include alcohol, caffeine, citrus fruits and fried foods. You can also get tested for the Heliobacter pylori virus, a common cause of ulcers and the stomach problems that result from them.

Mold

Mycotoxins found in some molds are also damaging neurotoxins. One study, published in the Archives of Environmental Health in 2003, found that 70% of people living in homes with toxic molds had signs of brain damage. Short term memory loss was one common symptom.

Watch for mold growth in bathrooms and anyplace there is moisture. Mold can be cleaned with a solution of three to four ounces of bleach mixed with a gallon of water. More serious mold problems (like mold inside walls) may require professional help. To prevent reoccurrence, keep humidity levels low (below about 50%) in the house.

Mercury

This heavy metal kills mitochondria and makes the brain less able to respond properly to dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood and cognitive functions. Mercury is found in tuna, swordfish, many dental fillings, and is also released into the air by many industrial processes.

To limit your exposure, you can eat smaller fish like sardines, trout and mackerel in place of the larger species. If you have unexplained memory loss, depression and fatigue, you might want to be tested for mercury. If you levels are high, there are chelation agents that can be used to rid your body of the mercury over a period of weeks.

Gluten

This is a common protein, and one of the most common brain toxins. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine listed over 50 negative effects related of gluten. These included dementia, nerve damage, depression and anxiety. It causes brain inflammation in some people who are especially sensitive to it, and it has glutamate in it, which is a molecule that has been shown to overstimulate neurons and kill cells.

Gluten is found in many grains as well as in beer and many processed foods. It's difficult to know for sure if you are sensitive to gluten, but you can test yourself. To do so, you have to avoid all gluten for ten to twelve weeks. Then you eat foods with gluten for several days to see if you feel depressed, fatigued or mentally foggy. If so, you may need to permanently alter your diet to avoid gluten. But ask a doctor about this, and about possible dietary supplements that may help.

Acetaminophen

This common pain reliever depletes your body's stores of glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant which protects the brain from oxidative damage and toxins. It's also a natural anti-inflammatory. Avoid taking acetominophen regularly (more than once weekly).

Sugar

Sugars react with proteins in you body, resulting in plaques that damage brain cells. High blood sugar has been shown to raise the risk for dementia. People with type 2 diabetes are actually four times as likely to get Alzheimer's, for example. Many sugars of course have been shown to increase the incidence of diabetes (high fructose corn syrup seems to one of the worst), not to mention strokes and heart disease - which are also bad for your brain. Keep your daily sugar intake to the equivalent of three teaspoons or less to avoid damaging your brain.

What About Traumatic Brain Injuries?

We have some good news for those suffering brain damage from injuries. The following video shows how Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) helped one young man improve:

Kurt was treated in a hard-shell chamber with pharmaceutical grade hyperbaric oxygen (HBOT). This process is one that probably needs to be done with a doctor trained in the treatment.

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