Brain health doesn’t have to deteriorate as we get older but it seems in many people that they blame poor memory or difficulty concentrating simply on ageing. Actually difficulties with your brain are really an indicator of declining health generally. Symptoms which alert you to the fact that your brain is struggling could be vague, such as forgetting names or where you parked the car or they can be more disabling such as vertigo or tinnutis (ringing in the ears) .
Improving brain health requires a systematic approach focussed on reducing inflammation and improving function. In an earlier post I talked about the gut brain connection so if you have sorted out this area without resolving your issues its now time to consider other areas which can cause damage to your brain.
Probably the two major areas are toxicity and deficiency. So how does each of these present and what can you do to improve your brain health?
Heavy metals particularly aluminium and mercury can build up over years of exposure and create problems. Aluminium is probably the easiest metal to understand as there is research to show that you have a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimers if you worked in Aluminium factories. Alzheimers involves the development of plaque which blocks connections in the brain (known as beta amyloid). The Lancet published some research showing a link between long term aluminium exposures and an increase in the build up of this type of plaque. A researcher called Rondeau also looked at the impact of high daily intake of aluminium from water and other sources and found it was correlated with an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Anecdotally I am also aware of a case of severe onset Alzheimers in a gentleman who had worked in an aluminium coating plant for a long period of time.
How do you detect heavy metal exposures? Blood tests are not very reliable unless the exposure is recent as the body will try and move heavy metals to fat to protect you from the impact and levels in the blood will not be maintained. Hair analysis is useful if you are what we call “an excretor”, that is you are able to detoxify and mobilise the metal out of fat stores. Obviously if you are able to detox heavy metals you wouldn’t be experiencing symptoms. Hair analysis and blood tests can show up heavy metals if you administer a provocation challenge before the tests, otherwise hair analysis may not give you an accurate picture until you have chelated heavy metals for a number of months.
The Oligoscan machine can detect heavy metals held in tissue and is based on spectrometer analysis. Its not unusual once you start treating a client for heavy metals to actually see levels increase before they start reducing. This is usually because they are mobilising deeper stores of the heavy metals and moving them out resulting in an increase in levels.
How do you reduce heavy metals or “chelate” them as it is more commonly known? The first step is ensuring the client’s system is alkaline which requires a diet high in fruit and vegetables as well as additional support from Vitamin C in reasonable doses (up to 2g a day). You would also ensure that you were giving nutrient minerals which antagonise the heavy metal. Generally that requires zinc in significant doses however it is also worth looking at other nutrients such as selenium which is also a potent anti-oxidant to support chelation.
Obviously deficiencies of key nutrients can allow toxicity to buildup and its important to ensure that you maintain a good intake of key minerals from your diet to minimise this risk. Nutrient deficiencies can show up with wide range of symptoms. You really need to look at the complete picture to determine what may be problematic. Generally with brain fog and low energy always think about magnesium, iron and iodine – for quite different reasons.
Magnesium is a critical nutrient responsible as a catalyst for over 300 reactions in the body. Low levels can really affect your ability to operate at many levels, typically you can be wired and tired as well as suffering from cramps or constipation.
Iron is the nutrient which carries oxygen in the blood so low levels can result in poor brain oxygenation and difficulty thinking. Its a simple blood test to get iron levels checked so it should be excluded as a possible issue.
Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormone and Australians’ are suffering from historically low levels of iodine which means deficiency is very common. Thyroid is a master hormone controlling growth and repair as well as energy. Low thyroid will leave you foggy, tired and prone to easily gaining weight.
It’s not unusual to find that you have both toxicity and deficiency as your body will try and “normalise” the situation depleting it of important nutrient minerals. You need to work on improving your stores of nutrients first before chelating out toxicity.
Need more information on supporting your brain health? Christine is in practice at Elemental Health St Ives , appointments can be booked on 8084 0081.