The below provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. Any treatment protocol should be discussed with a qualified healthcare practitioner ... Please refer to: Medical & Legal Disclaimer.
As we age, many of us are wondering: "Am I Losing it"? There are many external factors that impact your memory capacity. However, in many cases, simple changes in nutrition and lifestyle may be all that is needed to think clearly again.
Causes of "Brain Fog" & Ways to Resolve it (discuss with physician)...
The brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in your blood stream -- about the amount found in a banana. Eating frequent smaller meals throughout the day is recommended.
Avoid Sugar / Starchy Foods: Generally people with "brain fog" should avoid sugar and sugar-containing food, including sodas and sweet; but also white bread, pasta and white rice which are the most common culprits related to brain fog. These ultra-processed foods metabolize very quickly and cause blood sugar to spike then drop, which naturally makes you feel tired and results in "brain fog." Even more significant: high glucose levels damage cells everywhere in your body, including those in your brain.
White bread, for example, causes blood sugar to rise very quickly. Raw carrots, however, do not. High fiber carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels relatively slowly, and combining them with fat or protein can slow absorption even more.
Fats: Trans fats, also referred to as hydrogenated fats - common in fast and processed foods - are the worst and should be eliminated from our diet (as much as possible). This being said, the brain is 60 percent fat, and very low levels of cholesterol have been associated with depression, aggression and anti-social behavior. Our brain does need good fats -- specifically essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s, that are proving valuable in treating depression and other psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, as well as benefiting infant brain development.
Protein can balance glucose response and prevent us from crashing. Most people need to take in some sort of protein at every meal.
The key is a balanced diet that includes all macronutrients -- carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Nutritional Therapy: Scientific evidence shows that targeted nutritional therapy can be used to fight a variety of diseases affecting the brain, including Alzheimer's, arteriosclerosis, and chronic malnutrition.
Smart Nutrients provides a detailed account of the most important breakthrough nutrients currently being studied. These nutrients include niacin and vitamin C, as well as minerals such as zinc, chromium and many others -- each of which plays a crucial role in the maintenance of mental health and the treatment of specific diseases.
The book "Smart Nutrients" written by medical researcher Dr. Abram Hoffer and holistic health writer Dr. Morton Walker presents a program of diet and supplementation specifically developed to prevent or reverse senility.
Stress & Lack Of Sleep:
Stress: Among young, healthy people the most frequent cause of "brain fog" is stress.
Restructuring your life and practicing yoga and meditation are helpful.
Exercise is not only a great "de-stresser" but it also stimulates the growth of brain matter. Walking 20 minutes two to three times a week can improve your memory.
Lack of Sleep: Most people need eight or more hours of sleep. People who are sleep-deprived for a day have a brain function that can be compared to that of a person who is legally drunk.
Scientists suspect that our toxic environment - specifically heavy metals, phthalates, insecticides and pesticides in our food (please refer to "Chemicals in our Food"), air and water - are the reason for our ever-growing problem of brain fog even in younger generations. These environmental toxins are mitochondrial toxins. The mitochondria in your cells produce adenosine triphosphate, which is the main energy source of the body - giving you cognition, thought, and energy. When you destroy mitochondria, you destroy the integrity of the cell, and eventually the cells die. Dr. Stephen Sinatra - the author of The Sinatra Solution - recommends eating more organic food, supplementing with supplements like acetyl-L-carnitine (1-3 grams daily), which nourishes the brain, and co-enzyme Q10 (100 mg daily) which helps increase energy. Also B vitamins are good for the brain. He also refers to a recent study in which participants took 10 mg of melatonin and showed significant improvement in Alzheimer's-type symptoms and relief from depression and gained better sleep.
Bacterial or Candida / Fungal infections: Bacteria and fungal infections can deposit many toxins in the blood stream leading to brain fog.
Brain fog is one of several symptoms that may develop during perimenopause and menopause due to changing hormones.
Possible Solutions (to be discussed with doctor):
1200 IU capsules of Egg Lecithin - 2 each, 2 to 3 times per day
High dose Vitamin C 6000-8000mgs. Note: Could cause diarrhea and other side effects.
1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), 1/4 teaspoon of aluminum-free baking soda (such as Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda), 8 oz of water, add honey/molasses to taste - Note: ACV is a stimulant, so don't take too much
Magnesium citrate will address brain fog caused by heavy metals
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil will address candida-related brain fog. Work up to 4 to 5 1/2 tablespoon a day. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil can also be purchased in capsule form.
Causes of Memory Loss
Statins / Drugs: According to Mark Stengler, ND (the author of Natural Physician's Healing Therapies featured below), statins (i.e. Lipitor) have been anecdotally linked to a wide variety of side effects, including false dementia. Dr. Stengler emphasizes the importance of analyzing when the memory problems started and how rapidly they had progressed, and investigating the patient's medical history and analzying any potential links.
Nutrient Deficiency: Our brain requires a lot of nutrients to properly function. Vitamin C and E have been shown to delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Selenium increases your cognitive skills. The B vitamins can help improve memory. Zinc, Co-Q10 and essential fatty acids also help maintain healthy brain function. (Scroll down for other nutritional aids).
Too little of one type of cholesterol has been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease. Scientists studied more than 3,500 civil servants to investigate how levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol were associated with memory. HDL cholesterol can influence the formation of the beta-amyloid "plaques" that are a distinctive feature in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
After the five-year study period, the researchers found that people with low levels of HDL were 53 percent more likely to suffer memory loss than people with the highest levels of HDL.
Those with impaired memory are at an increased risk of developing dementia later in life.
Iodine Deficiency: According to the World Health Organization, today's LEADING CAUSE of brain failure is iodine deficiency. Low iodine levels trigger fatique, depression, and brain damage. Even in the early stages, iodine deficient people forfeit 15 IQ points; and 43% of us are at serious risk.
Normal Pressure Hdrocephalus (NPH) happens when spinal fluids build up and press on the brain. As many as 375,000 of the 4 million people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease actually have NPH. Yet it's easily detected and can be cured by draining the fluids.
Hypertension: High blood pressure can lead to inflammation of the walls of your arteries, which in turn encourages fat (plaque) to accumulate. As this debris is deposited on artery walls, the arteries become narrower and blood flow is reduced. This thickening of artery walls is known as atherosclerosis. By accelerating atherosclerosis, hypertension can contribute to dementia. Atherosclerosis interferes with circulation, and a lack of blood supply can produce areas of dead tissue in the brain. Multi-infarct dementia, a well-recognized cause of memory loss in older people, is caused by a series of these tiny strokes. Each one affects such a small area of the brain that symptoms may not be apparent until a substantial amount of tissue has been destroyed. The link between multi-infarct dementia and hypertension escaped attention for many years because people suffering from dementia often have normal or low blood pressure. When the researchers compared performance on cognitive function tests and midlife blood pressure, they found a link between poor mental function late in life and high systolic pressure 25 years earlier.
The adults in the study were between the ages of 45 and 79, with an average age of 64. After switching to a gluten-free diet - the primary treatment for celiac disease - two individuals improved, reversing their dementia; and one other stabilized. Even though further studies are needed, it does show an urgency for healthcare providers to be on the lookout for celiac disease in their elderly patients.
Soy: Eating high levels of some soy products, including tofu, could raise the risk of memory loss. A study that examined more than 700 elderly Indonesians found that high tofu consumption (at least once a day) was associated with worse memory, particularly among those over age 68. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which may heighten the risk of dementia. However, tempeh, a fermented soy product made from the whole soy bean, has been associated with better memory. This could be related to the fact that it contains high levels of the vitamin folate, which is known to reduce dementia risk.
What you can do to maintain optimal brain strength:
Exercise your mind: Give your mind a mental workout by reading, doing crossword puzzles
Exercise boosts cerebral blood flow and stimulates the growth of new brain matter.
No single type of exercise has an edge in protecting your brain. Studies have found cognitive benefits from aerobic exercise (brisk walking, biking, raking leaves) as well as from strength and flexibility workouts, such as lifting weights and holding yoga poses; they all provide long-term protection. Even activities that you probably don't think of as "exercise" count, including actively playing with your grand children, doing home work or pacing the floor as you watch your your favorite tv show.
Doctors at the Medical College of Geogia found that as little as 20 minutes of physical activity a day dramatically improves children's reasoning skills. That's because exercise improves blood flow to the brain, and lowers blood sugar by 15 percent. This enhances the ability of the brain cells to transmit information (Source: Medical College of Georgia, Augusta)
Eat Your Fruits & Veggies! Researchers at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I of the Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany, investigated the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and cognitive performance in healthy subjects aged 45 to 102 years. Their results, published in the August issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, indicated higher cognitive performance in individuals with high daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Subjects with a high daily intake (about 400 g) of fruits and vegetables had a better cognitive performance compared to healthy subjects of any age consuming low amounts (< 100 g/day) of fruits and vegetables.
Your brain needs a steady supply of nutrient-rich calories with a good balance of healthy fats, protein, and carbs to function at peak performance.
People who consume higher levels of B vitamins (folate, B12 and B6) may reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease. Folate also seems to play a role in decreasing homocysteine levels in the blood, which may improve heart health - and that means good blood flow to all organs, including the brain.
What to eat: Whole grains; green, leafy vegetables, and legumes, such as dried beans, lentils and peas.
Recently published research suggests that drinking apple juice may protect against the cell damage that contributes to brain aging and memory loss.
Gotu Kola: This herb enhances mental functioning by stimulating blood and oxygen flow to the brain, thus strengthening communication between brain cells that help you think faster and better. The effect is so impressive that researchers are studying its ability to stave off Alzheimer's.
For a healthy brain try introducing the following healthy snacks into your diet:
Homemade trail mix
Apple slices with peanut butter
Low-fat yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit, sprinkled with nuts or seeds
Fruit smoothies made with low-fat yogurt or milk blended with fresh or frozen fruit and a little honey
Baby carrots to dip in salsa or hummus
Celery stuffed with almond butter and raisins
If your mind wanders or you have memory lapses, you may need more zinc and iron in your diet. A lot of research has linked decreased iron and zinc levels with poorer mental performance in children. Studies suggest that those same elements also help keep grown-ups' minds sharp. Marginally low iron reserves reduced adults' ability to concentrate, and lower levels of zinc slowed test participants' ability to recall words.
Good sources of iron: Lean red meat, oysters, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, tofu, blackstrap molasses. For better iron absorption, pair up with good sources of Vitamin C, such as orange juice.
Good sources of zinc: Lean red meat, oysters, dark-meat poultry, pork, pumpkin seeds, soy nuts and wheat germ.
Phoshatidylserine is a key structural component of cell membranes and particularly concentrated in the brain. It assists the flow of electrical signals within neurons and maintains cell-membrane fluidity, which is important for receiving and releasing neurotransmitters and for bringing nutrients into the cell and moving waste out. Studies led by the late William Crook, MD, acclaimed author of The Yeast Connection book (featured to the right), showed that supplemental Phosphatidylserine helped improve memory in elderly subjects with impaired memory. (200 mg to 500 mg daily may be recommended by health practitioners).
Vinpocetine is derived from common periwinkle leaves and used as a stroke treatment in Eastern Europe and Japan. It improves the flexibility of red blood cells, which allows them to flow more freely through the brain's smaller vessels, providing damaged neurons with the benefits of enhanced circulation. Vinpocetine is not recommended for dementia not caused b vascular issues. (5 mg to 10 mg daily may be recommended by health practitioners).
In China, researchers found that elderly people who got at least the U.S. recommended daily value of selenium (about 55 micrograms per day) had cognitive test scores that put them in a league with people 10 years younger.
You can get your daily dose of selenium by eating whole-wheat bread (10 micrograms per slice), eggs (14 micrograms per egg), tuna (63 micrograms per 3-ounces), Brazil nuts (270 micrograms per half ounce), and many other foods.
According to the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, g reen tea helps slow the age-related decline in brain function seen as declining memory, cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer's. A human study published in the
Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University studied 1003 subjects over age 70, comparing their green tea intake and mental sharpness, using a Mini-Mental State Examination, a well-accepted standardized test for measuring cognitive function.
Drinking more than 2 cups a day of green tea slashed odds of cognitive impairment in elderly Japanese men and women by 64%! And a Japanese cup of green tea is much smaller than its American counterpart-only about 3.2 fluid ounces.
At every level of cognitive impairment-from minimal to severe-those drinking the most green tea experienced significantly less mental decline than those drinking the least:
Compared with elderly Japanese who drank less than 3 cups a week, those drinking more than 2 cups a day had a 54% lower risk of age-related declines in memory, orientation, ability to follow commands and attention.
Those drinking 4 to 6 cups of green tea a week (1 cup a day) had a 38 lower risk of declines in brain function.
Research indicates that epigallocatechingallate or EGCG, a highly potent antioxidant found in green tea:
Helps prevent the formation of B-amyloid, a protein whose accumulation is recognized as causing Alzheimer's (Basianetto S, Eur J Neurosci Jan 2006).
Protects brain cells by chelating (removing) iron, which might otherwise produce destructive free radicals (Reznichenko L, J Neurochem, March 2006).
Helps prevent oxidative stress-induced brain cell death by "talking" to brain cells' genes responsible for cell cycling and survival. Specifically, EGCG tells the genes in neurons to decrease production of caspase 3, an enzyme involved in initiating programmed cell death. (Park HJ, Life Sci Jan 2006; Levites Y. J Biol Chem, 2002)
Promotes memory-related learning ability by protecting cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in spatial cognition and memory-related learning ability, from free radical damage (Haque AM, J Nutr April 2006).
Coffee: A Finnish study found that those who drank coffee at midlife had a lower risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in late-life than those who drank no coffee at all. Those who drank three to five cups of coffee a day lowered their risk by 65 percent. Coffee
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