My hope is that these articles on fixing our broken brains will start us on new journeys to better living in a world where we suffer needlessly on top of those sufferings that are unavoidable. If you missed Part I of this two-part series, click back to catch up.
*The ideas in this article combine my knowledge from naturopathic medical school and my clinical experience with Dr. Hyman’s excellent and concise book. The UltraMind Solution provides a simple plan to defeat depression, overcome anxiety and sharpen your mind.
STOP INSULTING YOUR BRAIN … CONTINUED
7. Remove sugar, caffeine, alcohol (no more than two drinks per day), nicotine and recreational drugs.We are at the cusp of legalizing marijuana … Google a SPECT scan of a brain on marijuana; don’t be fooled to think that smoking anything won’t affect your brain and your lungs.
8. Evaluate the side effects of over-the-counter and prescription medications with your doctor. Most medications have multiple side effects - not only systemic symptoms but also depletions of CoQ10, B-Vitamins, Glutathione and Magnesium in addition to heavy metal toxicity (lead in some calcium supplements, aluminum in antacids and mercury or thimerosal in flu vaccines).
9. Eliminate toxic chemicalsthat are in our immediate control. We cannot control the effects of more than 80,000 chemicals introduced into our society since the early 1900’s (yet ONLY 550 have been tested for safety according to the EPA), or the 2.5 billion pounds of toxic industrial chemicals released each year. BUT, we can control our homes, cars, workplaces and social gatherings. For many people the personal space you live in 24 hours/day is more toxic than effects of environmental pollution. Dr. Hyman reports that 3,500 different chemicals can be added to our foods, 3,000 in our homes and 4,000 in cigarettes! Perfumed and petroleum-based laundry products, followed by perfumes and colognes are the worst culprits, harming not only your brain but also the brains around you who have to endure these offensive smells. Cleaning Products. Furniture made with formaldehyde and fire retardants. Chemical Pest Control and Lawn Fertilizers. Dry Cleaning. Air Fresheners. Hormones, Antibiotics, Pesticides, Herbicides and Fertilizers in our animal foods. Food Chemicals create by Food Scientists. Additives and Colorings (IE-sodium benzoate). Artificial Sweeteners. MSG. Cigarettes.
10. Mold exposure.
11. Electromagnetic fields (EMFs).Released from computers, cell phones, wireless networks, microwave ovens, TVs, WiFi, cell towers, power lines and electrical wires.
12. Heavy Metals. Especially Mercury, Lead, Cadmium and Aluminum).
KEY #2: BALANCE YOUR HORMONES
An imbalanced endocrine (hormonal) system is very common and looks like: fluctuating moods and energy, sugar or salt cravings, overweight (especially belly fat), PMS, painful or heavy menses, depression, poor sleep, low to no libido, thinning hair, dry skin, tired in the mornings, nervous fatigue, coffee in the morning and wine at night. The three worst hormonal problems in the U.S. are high production of insulin from the pancreas (due to eating sugar), high production of cortisol and adrenaline from the adrenals (due to stress) and low thyroid function (due to diet and stress). The dysfunctions in these three glandular systems create imbalances in our reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), brains (broken), sleep (melatonin) and our weight (growth hormones).
High production of insulin may be present with 6 or more of the following symptoms/signs: Craving and eating sweets. Family history of diabetes, hypoglycemia or alcoholism. Irritability, anxiety, fatigue or jitters especially after missing a meal. Intermittent headaches improved after eating. Shakiness two to three hours after a meal. Inability to lose weight, especially on a low fat diet. Carbs/sugar for breakfast leads to poor eating all day. Can’t stop eating carbs or sugar. Feel sleepy or drugged after eating a meal of carbs and sugar. Heart palpitations after eating sugar. Overconsumption of bread. Water retention with salt consumption. Panic attacks in the afternoon after skipping breakfast. Poor memory and concentration. Eating provides a calming effect. Fatigue a few hours after eating. Night sweats. Fatigued most of the day. Belly fat. Thinning hair. Infertility. High blood pressure. Type 2 Diabetes. Chronic yeast/fungal infections.
If this describes you, then you have become insulin resistant! If you measure your waist at your belly button then divide that by the measurement of your hips at the widest part and your result is greater than 0.8, then you have insulin resistance. I would then ask your doctor for an insulin-response test that measures your fasting blood sugar and insulin levels followed by your blood sugar and insulin levels after ingesting 75 grams of sugar.
The continued consumption of sugar and simple/refined carbohydrates (white rice, white flour, wheat flour and processed foods) will lead to insulin resistance or Metabolic Syndrome X or prediabetes which is increased belly fat, high blood sugar levels (over 90), high triglycerides (over 100), low HDLs (less than 60), high blood pressure and inflammation. The solution is to eliminate sugar and simple/refined carbohydrates from your diet, start exercising, and add the appropriate supplements! Stixated (Garcinia cambogia with chromium), Sweet Fx, Chlorophyll, Spirulina, Bee Pollen, ProPancreas, Chromium GTF and SugarReg. To help you further understand this issue of sugar intake and insulin overproduction in our society, please watch the “Fed Up” documentary.
Low Production of Thyroid Hormones may be present with 6 or more of the following symptoms/signs: Thick skin and fingernails. Dry skin. Thinning or coarse hair. Sensitivity to cold. Cold hands and feet. Muscle fatigue, pain or weakness. Heavy or painful menses, PMS or infertility. Low to no libido. Water retention. Low blood pressure and heart rate. Fatigue that is worse in the morning. Memory and concentration problems. Thinning of the outer third eyebrows. Trouble losing weight or recent weight gain. Constipation. Depressed or apathetic. Autoimmune disorders. Gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease. Exposure to radiation. Exposure to environmental toxins. Consumption of tuna and sushi. Dental amalgam fillings. Family history of thyroid problems. Consumption of chlorinated or fluoridated water.
Many people suffering from low thyroid function or subclinical hypothyroid (TSH levels not yet “high” enough to make a diagnosis of low thyroid function) are not getting the help they need. “Wait and Watch” does not work! Later, the use of T4 medications alone (Synthroid, Levoxyl) do not always help because not everyone is efficiently converting T4 to T3. T3 is the ACTIVE form of the thyroid hormones responsible for boosting metabolism and improving mood or brain function. Ask your doctor about T3 medications. Guggal Lipids and7-Keto can help to convert T4 to T3. Also Black Walnut ATC (for the iodine), Thyroid Support andThyroid Activator have been effective at help the thyroid to function properly. Finally, detoxifying foods and supplements are needed because the main reason for increased thyroid dysfunction over the past few decades is TOXICITY! PCBs, Fluoride (in water and dental products), chlorine (pools, water and foods) and bromine (baked goods additives) all push iodine off the cells of the body. Iodine is needed to properly make thyroid hormones and protect the reproductive organs - especially in females. The U.S. and Canada are iodine deficient in their soils, especially around the Great Lakes regions. As a result, some of the highest mortality rates due to breast cancer are found in the Great Lakes regions. Eat your sea vegetables and black walnut or take Iodarol-iodine/potassium iodide. Other important nutrients for the thyroid are selenium (also found in black walnut), zinc, fish oil and tyrosine.
Low production of Sex Hormones for females(estrogen & progesterone)may be indicated with a score of 8 or more of the following symptoms and signs: PMS. Monthly weight fluctuations. Water retention. Bloating. Headaches. Mood swings. Tender breasts. Depression. Poor coping skills. Muscle or joint pains. Cyclical sugar and salt cravings. Menstrual irregularities. Infertility. Use of birth control pills or other hormones. PMS migraines. Breast cysts or fibrocystic breasts. Family history of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. Uterine fibroids. Perimenopausal symptoms. Hot flashes. Anxiety. Night sweats. Low to no libido. Dry skin or hair. Heart palpitations. Memory or focus problems. Weight gain around the middle. Facial hair. Exposure to pesticides or heavy metals.
For men, three or more symptoms indicate low sex hormone production (testosterone & DHEA): Decreased libido and vitality. ED. Infertility or low sperm counts. Loss of muscle. Increased abdominal fat. Low energy. Loss of purpose or sense of apathy. Bone loss or fractures. Increasing cholesterol. Increased insulin or blood sugar levels. Weakness. Depression. Exposure to pesticides or heavy metals.
We were not created to live like this as a natural progression of life/aging. Work with an alternative practitioner to define the hormonal imbalances, address the causes first (diet, toxicity, deficiencies) and give the body what it needs to repair. The body will heal! And so will the mind as sex hormone imbalances act on the brain directly to affect mood and cognition. Low estrogen will promote low serotonin and low melatonin, potentially causing depression, sleep disturbances and increased risk for dementia, as normal levels of estrogen are brain protective. Too much estrogen can cause breast, uterine and cervical cancers. Low progesterone causes PMS and perimenopausal anxiety and insomnia because of affecting low GABA production - the relaxing neurotransmitter. Low testosterone decreases mood, memory, motivation and overall cognitive function. Testosterone drops with age mostly because of weight gain, lack of exercise, stress and high-sugar diets/insulin resistance. Treatment includes exercise, elimination of sugar, refined foods, alcohol, caffeine and dairy while decreasing stress. Phytoestrogenic herbs such as Dong quoi, progesterone cream, Chaste tree, MACA, l-arginine are just some of the herbs that can help balance the hormones.
KEY #3: COOL OFF INFLAMMATION
Is your brain inflamed? Seasonal allergies. Food allergies or sensitivities. Feeling ill after eating. Working in poor lighting, with chemicals or in poor ventilation. Exposure to pesticides, chemicals, loud noise, heavy metals or toxic people. Frequent colds. Flu. History of chronic infections. Sinusitis. Allergies. Bronchitis. Asthma. Dermatitis. Arthritis. Autoimmune diseases. IBS. Colitis. Neuritis. Heart Disease. History of a heart attack. Diabetes. Overweight. Family history of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Chronic stress. More than three alcoholic drinks per week. Lack of exercise.
Answering yes to 7 or more of these indicates high inflammation.
Remove sugar, refined flours, trans fat and saturated fat which all promote inflammation. Have food intolerances/sensitivities tested (IgG testing) especially wheat, dairy, sugar, artificial sweeteners, peanuts, corn, soy and eggs, all causing the brain to inflame. Take Probiotic 11 and LOCLO, an herbal fiber, to reinoculate the gut with good bacterial flora. Regularly cleanse the liver and colon with CleanStart, Dieter’s Cleanse, Candida Clear orParaCleanse to rid any microbial infestations. Drink Aloe Juice to heal inflammation and damaged tissue. Consider Food Enzymes to give the stomach, pancreas and small intestine a break and a chance to heal. Identify toxic insults to the body and remove them or avoid them. Rule out any potential low grade infections such as an STD or Lyme disease or viruses. Be urgent and serious about decreasing stress, your perception of stress and your response to stress. Exercise. Sleep. Replenish the body of nutritional deficiencies.
KEY #4: FIX YOUR DIGESTION – 101 (5 SIMPLE STEPS)
1. Move the bowels with Magnesium Complex, LBS II, Loclo fiber andLove and Peas.
2. Add enzymes to give the body a break. Food enzymes with HCL (for those with acid reflux), Proactazyme (from Plants for general enzyme help), Hi Lipase (for Fats), PDA (for protein) orDigestive Bitters (to stimulate the body’s own enzyme production).
3. Cleanse the liver and the colon (call or visit the store to have a FREE 10-minute explanation of various cleansing systems from liver/gallbladder/intestinal to parasites to Candida. Have your doctor do a stool test for microbes including levels of good bacteria along with a urine test for high levels of D-lactate (an indicator of overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
4. Restore the gut lining with Probiotic 11 (good bacteria), Loclo fiber (prebiotics) andl-Glutamate.
5. Remove food allergens (IgE reactions) especially gluten and food intolerances (IgG reactions). For example: wheat, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, chemical sweeteners, dyes, eggs and peanuts.
KEY #5: ENHANCE DETOXIFICATION
How do you know if/when you need a cleanse? Answering yes to six or more of these following signs and symptoms indicates the need for doing a cleanse: Sluggish bowel movements every day or every other day. Constipation (only one bowel movement per day or every other day). Scant, dark or strong-smelling urine. No sweating. Fatigue, muscles aches, headaches or focus problems. Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Drinking unfiltered water from plastic bottles. Dry cleaned clothes. Sick home or sick building (no ventilation/toxic). Urban living. Household chemical exposure. Dental amalgam fillings. Large fish consumption once per week or more. Aggravated by chemical smells. Negative reactions to MSG, sulfites, sodium benzoate (preservative), red wine, cheese, bananas, chocolate, alcohol, garlic or onions. Wired up when drinking caffeine. Regular consumption of Tylenol, acid reflux meds, hormonal medications (especially birth control) and many other daily meds. History of jaundice or Gilbert’s syndrome. History of breast cancer, lung cancer from smoking, other cancers, prostate problems, food allergies or food intolerances. Family history of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s ALS or MS.
Please call or visit us for a FREE 10-minute gentle Detoxification consult. Blood tests and hair samples can be done for heavy metal toxicity.
KEY #6: BOOST ENERGY METABOLISM
What does loss of energy look like? Prolonged fatigue. Aching or weak muscles. Sleeping problems. Unrefreshed in the morning. Poor tolerance for exercise. Poor memory or focus. Irritable or moody. Prolonged stress. Worse after acute stress, infection or trauma. Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue. Chronic infections. Environmental chemical exposure. Gulf War syndrome. Neurological disease. Autism or ADHD. Depression or Bipolar or schizophrenia.
Greens (foods or food supplements), CoQ10, B vitamins, Magnesium, Anti-oxidants, Trace Minerals, Resveratrol and amino acid therapy are some things that are great for energy production by healing the mitochondria.
KEY #7: CALM YOUR MIND
Calm your mind by treating your adrenal glands. We have heard a lot about adrenal dysfunction … Low blood pressure. Dizziness when standing up. Hypoglycemia. Craving salt and/or sweets. Dark circles under the eyes. Difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. Nonrestorative sleep. Mental fog or difficultly concentrating. Headaches. Frequent infections. Exercise intolerance. Feeling stress often. Nervous fatigue. Water retention. Panic attacks and easily startled. Heart palpatations. Need for caffeine to start the day. Weak and shaky. Fatigued. Muscle weakness.
If this describes you, then it is time to address those weakened or fatigued adrenal glands!