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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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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