Is your brain still suffering?

Is your brain still suffering?

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?

Toxicity 

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.

Worker with protective mask welding metal

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.
Home Made Cultured Or Fermented Vegetables
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.

Deficiency

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.

Brain Fog – is your brain suffering?

Brain Fog – is your brain suffering?

Those of us who have given up gluten are often familiar with the concept of brain fog. Basically that’s what used to happen to us every time we had gluten ( the big protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats).

However there may be other reasons you get a foggy brain, problems with your memory or keep losing things like the shopping or even the car at the shopping centre! Many of us just blame it on getting older or being really busy but what about if its something more concerning? Really what if the brain is starting to struggle and it needs more support?

Recently I have been reading a lot about the concept of a “leaky brain” , in many ways a similar concept to that of a “leaky gut”. The blood brain barrier is supposed to be relatively impermeable to protect our brain. There are a whole range of factors which can damage this barrier including not surprisingly diet but also infection and toxicity.

Diet is a relatively easy example. In the US Cyprex labs tests include a wide range of gluten intolerance testing including transglutamaninsases 2 ,3 and 6. Each of these is associated with different types of gluten intolerance reactions and only one of them is a gut type reaction, commonly associated with coeliac or gluten intolerance. If you have antibodies to the transglutaminase 6 for example you can be reacting to your central nervous system – on other words autoimmunity to brain tissue. Some early indications suggest this is what may be happening in the case of MS where the sheath around nerves starts to unravel.
Bakery Bread on a Wooden Table. Various Bread and Sheaf of Wheat
How do you support brain health if you are having problems? First up if you have coeliac or gluten intolerance in the family get testing done to ensure you are not coealiac (much easier to do whilst still eating gluten) and then do a food intolerance panel to eliminate any other allergens. Unfortunately the testing done in the US is not available here yet but you can easily get gene testing done on a couple of genes which do indicate a strong possiblity of gluten intolerance.

Next try eliminating gluten and dairy for 6-8 weeks. I know it seems like a long time but it takes a while for damage to be repaired and for you to see a shift in your symptoms. Make sure they are eliminated and not just reduced and also include any foods which come up in the food intolerance panel. During this period make sure you are eating a lot of vegetables ( 3 cups a day) and a couple of serves of fruit a day. You may even find smaller meals more often will support your energy levels better.

bigstock_Health_Capsule_74886

In addition some basic anti-oxidant support in the form of fish oils as well as resveratol may also be useful but at a minimum ensure that you are eating good quality fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil and including sources such as nuts and seeds and avocado.

Then see how you are going? Is your memory better, gut less upset etc. If it shifts it might be time to say goodbye to gluten!