Are you having difficulty concentrating, remembering names and appointments, and keeping track of your glasses or keys? Are you easily distracted and unfocused? Do you feel you are not as sharp or on-the-ball as you once were? Do you worry, “If I am like this now, what am I going to be like in 10 years?”
In moments of desperation, do you wonder, “Am I losing it?” The loss of memory and mental sharpness is not a natural part of aging, but rather results from an accumulation of causes and deficiencies over the years. Examples of causes resulting in brain fog include
- Anxiety and depression
- Neurotransmitter imbalance: low dopamine, low glutamate, low epinephrine
- Metabolic diseases, such as thyroid gland conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lung, liver or kidney failure
- Vitamin B-12 and nutrient deficiency
- Food allergies and gluten sensitivities
- Drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter.
The good news is that the brain is plastic. Plasticity, or neuroplasticity, is the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences. Brain degeneration is not inevitable. You can reinvigorate, protect and maintain your brain. This requires that you “clean up your act” by removing toxins, supply your brain with essential nutrients and oxygen and enjoy a therapeutic lifestyle.
Are you exposing your brain to toxins?
If you drink unfiltered tap water, spray insecticides in your garden, smoke or eat foods packed with pesticides, you are exposing your brain to toxins. Personal skin care products are also filled with toxins, some of which are carcinogenic. Dangerous chemicals are found in toothpaste, hair shampoo, conditioners, shaving cream, antiperspirants and moisturizers. Avoid products containing the following chemicals: triclosan, laurel sulfate, formaldehyde, hydroquinone, phthalates, 1,4-dioxane, parabens, nitrosamines, lead and other heavy metals. Learn more about how chemicals impact your health and where they come from at SafeCosmetics.org.
Identify & Remove Toxins
Laboratory tests can determine what toxins are hidden in your body and affecting your brain so they can then be safely removed.
Any product or event that causes stress and anxiety to the body creates inflammation. An inflamed brain does not function optimally. Delegate, meditate, breathe, exercise and let go of stressors that are other people’s responsibilities.
Others sources of inflammation include food allergies, gluten sensitivities, chronic illnesses, insomnia, infections and neurotransmitter imbalances. Specific tests can determine if you have a food allergy, gastrointestinal infection or neurotransmitter imbalance. Once the root cause has been identified, therapies can be customized for an individual’s specific needs.
If your neurotransmitters are out of balance, brain fog will occur. Low levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine or glutamate create a lack of focus and cause low brain function. Neurotransmitter testing allows for personalized care. Imbalances can be treated with specific amino acids for better brain function.
The Most Important Tool
According to renowned neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, the single most important thing you can do to keep your brain functioning at its peak and prevent brain aging is pay attention to what you put on your plate. It’s as simple as that. Nutrition is the most important tool for staying mentally and physically fit and is by far the most underutilized tool. When you think about it, the way we live and heal is impacted by the quality of air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.
The most important nutrient for your brain is fat. Yes, fat. Fat is not a four-letter word. Sixty percent of our brain is comprised of fat, and each of our 100 trillion cell walls (membranes) are 60%-80% fat. Brain-friendly fats include olive, avocado and safflower oil, as well as nuts and avocados.
The bottom line is that you are in charge of your brain. You can be alert, focused and great at remembering details. Fixing your brain starts with your body. Eat well, decrease your stress, remove toxins, read labels and, above all else, have fun!
Dr. Sharon Norling practices Advanced Functional Medicine in Westlake Village. Call 818.707.9355 or visit DrSharonNorling.com.