Tag Archives: brain health

Think being gluten-free is a fad? Think again

You’d have to live under a rock to not recognize the popularity of gluten-free diets by now. But if you think going gluten-free is just another fad, think again. Although it may be a passing fad for some, a gluten-free diet is powerful medicine for most.

The benefits, which attain almost miraculous heights for some people, vary depending on the person.

A gluten sensitivity is not a one-size-fits-all disorder with requisite symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, it does not simply cause digestive complaints (although it does cause severe digestive distress for many).

Neurological symptoms common with gluten

gluten free not a fad

In fact, one of the most common consequences of a gluten intolerance are symptoms that express themselves neurologically, and even these can vary.

The part of the brain most commonly affected by a gluten intolerance is the cerebellum, the area at the back of the brain that controls motor movements and balance. This can cause issues with balance, vertigo, nausea, car sickness and sea sickness, and getting dizzy or nauseous looking at fast-moving images or objects.

Also commonly affected are the protective coating of nerves called myelin. As damage to myelin progresses one can develop multiple-sclerosis type symptoms such as numbness, tingling or muscle weakness.

Other neurological symptoms associated with gluten include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, anxiety, memory loss, brain fog, autism symptoms, and even more serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.

How a person with a neurological response to gluten reacts depends on that person’s genetic makeup.

Other common symptoms caused by gluten

For others the reactions to gluten manifest elsewhere in the body. Some common symptoms include skin disorders (i.e., eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dermatitis herpetiformis), joint pain, digestive problems, and poor thyroid function (Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism).

Why does gluten cause such diverse symptoms?

The symptoms of a gluten intolerance vary from person to person because of its effects on the immune system and brain.

Gluten is inflammatory and damaging to the gut in many people, causing leaky gut. The gut is the seat of the immune system, and also communicates intimately with the brain.

When the gut is constantly inflamed and becomes leaky (even though one might not have digestive symptoms), this increases overall inflammation in the body and the brain.

Increased inflammation not only gives rise to myriad disorders on its own, it also increases the risk of developing an autoimmune disorder. This is a disorder in which an imbalanced immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys tissue in the body, such as the brain, the thyroid, the pancreas, joint cartilage, and more.

Gluten and autoimmune disease

When it comes to autoimmune disease, no tissue in the body or brain is safe from an overzealous immune system deranged by constant inflammation. The rates of autoimmune diseases have exploded in recent years, and most are yet undiagnosed — meaning years of chronic and “mysterious” symptoms.

If you suffer from troubling and chronic symptoms, it is definitely worth considering an intolerance to gluten and other common trigger foods, such as dairy, eggs, soy, and different grains. Although giving up a favorite food is rarely easy, getting back your health is always wonderful.

Schedule a visit with me for more advice on how to manage your chronic health disorder and how to adjust your diet to support your health.

Got brain fog? Here are five possible reasons why

5 things that cause brain fog copy

Do you suffer from brain fog? That muggy feeling your brain is operating in a puddle of mud and life is moving in slow motion. People think brain fog is funny or normal, but it’s not. It’s a red flag your brain is inflamed, functioning poorly, and likely degenerating too quickly.

What causes brain fog and why should you care? Consider these reasons:

1. Brain cells not communicating well with each other

Brain fog happens when brain cells, or neurons, don’t communicate well with each other. This causes brain function to slow down and diminish, giving you symptoms of brain fog.

Many factors cause neurons to fire sluggishly or not all with each other, which I’ll talk about more in this article.

When you have brain fog, you have to ask yourself, “Why are my neurons not able to fire effectively?”

2. Unstable blood sugar and brain fog

Blood sugar that swings too low or too high can cause brain fog. Symptoms of low blood sugar include irritability or lightheadedness between meals, cravings for sweets, waking up at 3 or 4 a.m., dependence on coffee or sugar for energy, becoming upset easily, and forgetfulness.

Symptoms of high blood sugar (insulin resistance) include fatigue after meals, constant hunger, cravings for sweets not relieved by eating them, constant thirst, frequent urination, difficulty falling asleep, and a big belly.

Blood sugar that is too low or too high means neurons are not receiving the energy they need to function, which often causes brain fog.

Unstable blood sugar is commonly caused by eating too many processed carbohydrates and sugary items, skipping meals, or chronic overeating.

Quite often relieving symptoms of brain fog can be as easy as stabilizing your blood sugar. Eat a whole foods diet based around vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid sweets and processed foods, and keep carbohydrate consumption to a level that prevents symptoms of low or high blood sugar.

3. An unhealthy gut environment

Communication between the gut and the brain is ongoing and intimate. Bad gut health affects the brain and can cause symptoms of brain fog.

For instance, some people develop brain fog after eating certain foods, such as gluten, that trigger inflammation in the gut. If you have digestive problems, your gut may be playing a role in your brain fog.

Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the intestine becomes overly porous, allows undigested food particles, yeast, bacteria, and other harmful compounds to enter the bloodstream.

This triggers chronic inflammation in the gut, body, and brain, along with other health problems, such as food intolerances, pain, autoimmune disorders, skin issues, joint problems, depression, and, of course, brain fog.

4. Poor circulation and brain fog

Are your fingers, toes, and nose are cold to the touch? This may mean your brain is not receiving enough oxygen due to poor circulation. Other symptoms of poor circulation include weak nails, fungal nail infections, low brain endurance, and cramping in the hands and feet.

Low circulation deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients, thus causing brain fog. Factors that cause low circulation include anemia, chronic stress, hypothyroidism, low blood pressure, smoking, and blood sugar imbalances.

5. Autoimmune disease and brain fog

Autoimmunity is a disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue. Examples include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, Type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

This chronic inflammation goes on to inflame the brain, which hampers function and can cause brain fog. Brain fog is a common complaint among autoimmune sufferers.

Also, autoimmune attacks in the brain are more common than people realize. This, too, is linked with brain fog.

Don’t assume your brain fog is something to shrug off. It’s best to discover the underlying causes of brain fog and address them. This will not only give you better brain function but also help prevent dementia later in life.

Got brain drain? Trade your keyboard for a pen

handwriting improves brain health copy

Do your fingers whir across the keyboard, but your brain is left in the dust? One small but effective way to improve brain health is as simple as putting a pen to paper for a little bit each day. Research shows that although keyboards make writing fast and easy, they also make for sloppier brain function compared to handwriting.

Handwriting has been phased out of everyday life and school curriculums. Studies show many people can’t remember the last time they had to write something by hand and many children don’t know how to properly hold a pen or pencil because it’s barely taught in school.

This is bad news for our brains, say experts. The reason it takes children several years to learn how to write is because writing requires so many different areas of the brain to work simultaneously, enhancing development.

Likewise, college students who take notes by hand understand the material better than computer note takers. Continue reading

Boost anti-aging and brain function with PQQ

PQQ

By now you’ve probably heard of CoQ10 and it’s anti-aging potential. The newest discovery in the anti-aging world is PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone). PQQ works inside your cells like CoQ10 by defending them from damage. But what sets PQQ apart is that it can also energize your cells so they function better. This is done by PQQ’s ability to enhance mitochondrial function.

Mitochondria are tiny compartments inside the body’s cells that are often referred to as the cell’s batteries or energy factories. Just as low battery power can cause the lights on a flashlight to slowly dim, so can poor mitochondrial function drain us of energy and function.

PQQ and aging

Poor mitochondrial function is a key marker of aging. Research shows people over the age of 70 have 50 percent more mitochondrial damage in the brain than those who are middle-aged. Mitochondrial dysfunction is also linked to chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dementia and Alzheimer’s.

PQQ is found in the natural world, including in plants and even in stardust. Because we cannot synthesize it ourselves we depend on getting it from our diets, which makes it an essential micronutrient. Studies show that animals deprived of PQQ exhibit stunted growth, poor immunity, reproductive problems, and fewer mitochondria in their tissues. Putting PQQ back into their diets reversed these issues.

PQQ is also unique because it is a very stable antioxidant, which means it can perform it’s cellular defense duties without breaking down. It has been shown to be especially effective in the heart and the brain, the body’s two most energy-demanding organs.

PQQ and the brain

Studies of PQQ have shown it can optimize the health of the entire central nervous system, reverse cognitive impairment, improve memory, help in stroke recovery, slow the damage caused by neurodegenerative disease  and help protect the brain from toxicity, such as from mercury.

Because of its many protective roles, researchers and clinicians are looking at PQQ’s preventive role in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. One study on aging rats showed supplementation with PQQ resulted in significantly improved memory. Studies on humans showed supplementation of 20 mg a day of PQQ improved cognition in middle-aged and elderly people. The improvements were amplified when they also took 300 mg a day of CoQ10 in addition to the PQQ.

PQQ and the heart

PQQ appears to help protect the heart after a heart attack and from oxidative stress in general thanks to its ability to support mitochondrial function.

To learn more about PQQ and how it may help you, contact me.

Study shows sugar makes us more stupid; omega 3 to the rescue

image2A recently published UCLA study shows what many have suspected all along: Eating too much sugar makes you stupid. Scientists found that just six weeks of bingeing on sweets and soda will sabotage both learning and memory. Fortunately, consuming omega-3 fatty acids can counteract some of the damage.

The study looked at the effects of fructose — in the form of cane sugar (sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup — which is found in the American diet in everything from soft drinks to baby food. A whopping 156 pounds of sugar per year is what the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates an average American consumes, including 82 pounds of fructose, the sugar that was studied. In total, we Americans are consuming 150 more pounds of sugar per year than we did in 1822. Put another way, our sugar consumption has increased by almost a pound of sugar per person per year. Every year. That’s a lot of sugar.

Sugar lowers the brain chemical needed for memory

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