Mental Clarity and Memory are two things that most people assume that they will lose with age. Many people suffer memory loss due to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain. The brain along with every other cell in the body is fed by our blood, the “life” of the body. If proper nutrients aren’t getting to the brain, they either aren’t in the bloodstream, or there is a problem with the blood delivery system. Also consider that some substances in the blood could be toxic to the brain.
One of the most important factors in brain health is omega 3 oils which are absent from the average diet. Deficiencies of these oils can cause impaired ability to learn and recall information. DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is a particular omega 3 fatty acid that is a fundamental building block for cellular membranes, most notably neuronal membranes in the brain.
B vitamins help maintain the health of our nerves and brain. Some cases of Alzheimer’s disease have been found to be due to B-12 and B-complex deficiency. Our ability to assimilate B-12 is sometimes impaired so it is helpful to supplement with either high-absorption or sublingual formulas.
Problems with the blood delivery system caused by clogged arteries and/or high cholesterol and triglycerides and high blood sugar could interfere with the brain’s ability to get nutrients. Natural agents that help increase circulation will help the brain work better – these include the Omega 3 oils, ginkgo biloba, and lecithin. It is important to change your habits (diet and exercise) so that you lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar if they are problems for you.
Ginkgo biloba is a powerful antioxidant herb that benefits the brain, retina and cardiovascular system. Studies show that ginkgo has a positive and measurable effect on dementia in people with Alzheimer’s disease and people recovering from strokes. Other studies show that it enhances concentration and improves memory. Ginkgo is used in many formulas for enhanced mental clarity, better circulation and also for attention deficit disorder. Other herbs used for mental clarity and learning include gotu kola and bacopa. My favorite combination has all three.
Also notable for brain and nerve health are the following: lion’s mane mushroom, which helps repair nerves by stimulating nerve growth factors, supporting normal cognitive function and muscular coordination and response; and phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine which are phospholipids that have shown substantial benefits with neurological disorders, memory loss and depression. They are available either separately or in brain and nerve combinations.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid that acts specifically on the brain and nerves, helping protect nerve cells from stress and deterioration which may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Acetyl-l-carnitine also naturally increases energy to the brain and helps relieve depression. Several studies have shown increased memory and better ability to solve complex problems when taking acetyl l-carnitine.
It is also important to avoid substances that are known to be toxic to the brain and nerves. These include the class of substances known as excitotoxins that excite the nerves to death. The most common excitotoxins are the artificial sweetener aspartame and the flavor enhancer MSG. Read labels of foods and diet products and make sure you are avoiding these toxins in order to maximize the health of your brain.
I hope this will get you thinking.
Tagged Acetyl-l-carnitine, Alzheimers, B Complex, B12, Bacopa, Blood Sugar, Brain, Cholesterol, Cognitive, Dementia, Depression, DHA, Excitotoxins, Fish Oil, Focus, Ginkgo, Gotu Kola, Lion's Mane Mushroom, Memory, Memory Loss, Mental Clarity, MSG, Muscular Coordination, Nerve Growth, Nerve Growth Factors, Nerves, Omega 3, Phosphatidyl Choline, Phosphatidyl Serine, Phospholipids, Stroke, Triglycerides
Iodine is an essential trace mineral that we normally obtain in our diet from iodized salt. Deficiency of iodine results in goiter or enlarged thyroid gland. Goiter is usually accompanied by hypothyroid conditions such as fatigue, coldness, constipation, weight gain and poor memory.
In 1924, iodine was added to table salt to remedy the massive iodine deficiency that was occurring in the United States. Iodine is normally supplied by things from the sea, such as fish and seaweed. Up until the late 1960’s, dough conditioners that contained iodine were commonly used, increasing the average daily intake of iodine to more than four times the current RDA of 150 mcg.
In the late 1960’s, these dough conditioners were replaced with bromine which interferes with the absorption of iodine. We also get exposed to bromides from many different chemical sources. So even if we get enough iodine in our diet, we end up deficient due to other factors that limit our uptake of iodine.
Traditionally, iodine has been linked to thyroid issues, but recent research has linked iodine to other conditions including cracked skin on the hands and feet, frequent sinus infections, cysts of the ovaries, uterus and / or breasts, fibroids, hot flashes, and emotional changes during cold weather.
Women tend to need more iodine than men. Breast and ovarian tissue uptake iodine at about the same rate as the thyroid. One iodine researcher found that about one woman in seven is iodine deficient. This is very close to the ratio of breast cancer in women.
Iodine desensitizes estrogen receptors in the breasts resulting in less cell growth while promoting cell death of malignant cells. Kelp, a natural source of iodine has been studied to show its anti-tumor effect. Females on thyroid hormone replacement and no iodine have about twice the risk for breast cancer as females on thyroid hormone replacement and supplemental iodine.
Supplemental iodine can be very beneficial to those with chronic auto-immune issues such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia or even cancer.
Iodine supplementation works well only if you are deficient in iodine. A great test of iodine status is to paint a spot of iodine on your skin and see how long the stain stays there. If the stain is intact in 24 hours, you have sufficient iodine and do not need to supplement. However, if the stain is gone to significantly faded, you might benefit from supplemental iodine.
Potassium iodide made the news in the last few years as we all watched the Japanese nuclear plant after the disastrous earthquake. Iodine was “the remedy” for the radiation that leaked from the nuclear power plant because it would tie up the receptors in the thyroid gland and prevent it from taking on the radiation.
The protocol for using potassium iodide for protection against radiation involves taking relatively high doses for short periods of time. Taking any nutrient in large doses over long periods of time results in imbalance. If you take supplemental iodine, do a skin test periodically and/or monitor thyroid function to make sure you are not getting too much.
Tagged Breast Cancer, Breasts, Bromine, Chronic Sinus, Coldness, Cracked Skin, Dough Conditioners, Fatigue, Fibroids, Goiter, Hot Flashes, Hypo-thyroid, Iodine, Kelp, Memory, Ovarian Cysts, Potassium Iodide, Radiation, RDA, Seaweed, Skin Test, Thyroid, Trace Mineral, Weight Gain, Women
Reducing or losing weight is a topic I get a lot of questions about. Many of you already know that I don’t believe in diet pills or magic solutions that simply melt off excess weight without proper changes in diet and exercise.
That being said, let’s talk about weight loss. As we age our metabolism begins to slow and it becomes harder to take off that extra weight. What I notice in particular is that our habits become more ingrained and we get busier so that we don’t have the time to do what we know makes us lose weight. Here are some steps that will help.
Step 1. Drink water – lots of it. Start at 2 quarts. You may find that when you start giving your body enough water that you want more. It’s O.K. to drink more and get your system flushed out. Limit other drinks to one cup of coffee or tea per day.
Step 2. Stop consuming sugar. Yes, just stop. Now is a great time because there is plenty of fresh fruit available. Sugar is a major problem food because it is addictive – meaning the more you eat, the more you want. Sugar substitutes aren’t much better. Aspartame and Splenda both have problems associated with them. It is best to get your taste buds retrained so that they do not have to have something sweet.
Step 4. Stop eating bread, crackers, pasta and anything else made out of wheat. Wheat is inflammatory to almost everyone and tends to make you retain fluid and excess weight. I am not recommending a low-carbohydrate diet. There are plenty of good carbohydrates such as beans, brown rice, oatmeal and sweet potatoes that will help satisfy the appetite without adding to inflammation or blood sugar reactions.
Step 3. Eat at least 4 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day. Again, this is a great time to do this since summer vegetables are beginning to come out of the garden. Make sure that at least 2 of these are raw. You can eat more non-starchy vegetables, up to 8 servings per day. For weight loss, raw is better, but there are some things that are just better cooked – for example, green beans.
Step 4. Eat 2 servings of fresh fruit per day. Grapefruit is a good choice since it helps burn fat; however, since it is not in season, you can eat cantaloupe, peaches, plums, apples, cherries, watermelon, apricots, etc. Fruit is best on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes prior to a meal.
Step 5. Start walking at least 30 minutes per day. Walk briskly, but slow enough that you can still talk. A good goal is to walk at least 4 of the 7 days of the week.
Step 6. Remember to eat lean protein at each meal. This can be chicken, fish, turkey, lean cuts of beef, low fat cottage cheese, or plain yogurt. There are some good vegetarian combinations that work such as beans and Ezekial bread or beans and brown rice.
With these steps in place, there are a few supplements that will help speed up weight loss. L-carnitine is one that helps to mobilize fat and turn it into energy. Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is another supplement that helps turn fat into muscle.
I also recommend Citrimax (also known as garcinia) – a mild weight loss supplement that increases metabolism while decreasing appetite. My favorite weight loss supplement contains both Citrimax and l-carnitine along with other nutrients that help burn fat and stop cravings. Green tea and yerba mate tea both give an energy boost and help suppress appetite. One cup of either green tea or yerba mate in the afternoon helps get you through the day with plenty of energy and no cravings. And, it’s much better for you than a soda.
Try these steps and see how you do.
Tagged Articficial Sweeteners, Citrimax, CLA, Diet, Eliminate Sugar, Exercise, Food Sensitivities, Fruit, Garcinia, L-Carnitine, Lean Protein, Sugar, Supplements, Vegetables, Water, Weight Loss, Wheat, White Flour
Feeling better and being healthy is something we all want and work on. There are natural ways to help everyone.
One of the priorities to address nutritional deficiencies. Everyone is deficient in something. Most people are low on basic minerals and vitamins as it is impossible to get all the nutrients you need from food – even if you are eating a balanced diet – which most of us aren’t.
I find that most people need supplemental B vitamins for calm energy and for stress reduction. There are different ratios for different needs. I like one called Bio 3BG for those whose mind races, who tend to be anxious and who wake up at night and can’t go back to sleep.
One of the most common deficiencies I see in people over 40 is B12 – this supplement has to be dissolved in your mouth as those over 40 cannot absorb it from food or from oral supplements. B12 is remarkable in all that it does – it is for energy, memory, and for tingling and numbness in hands and feet and more. B12 is also a nerve tonic (as are all of the B vitamins) – so it is an important supplement for anything neurological. Note that stiffness in neck and shoulders can be a sign of B12 deficiency.
Omega 3 oils are also notoriously absent in the typical American diet. For more on this, go to last week’s article.
Minerals are another category that most people have some level of deficiency in. I like really good multi-vitamins that contain necessary trace minerals in good quantities. There are multi-vitamins for almost everyone – men, women, children, people with high blood sugar, people with low blood sugar, people with stress, people with no energy, etc.
Note that all multi-vitamins are not created equal. Quality is a huge issue when it comes to any supplement. My best test for whether a multi-vitamin is worth taking or not is to look at the label. Several things warrant trashing the product – these include having calcium carbonate as the first ingredient, having the vitamin E as the “dl” form, and having dyes and other chemicals that are unnecessary.
In the mineral category remember not just the trace minerals, but the macro minerals as well – such as calcium and magnesium. I find that I recommend magnesium more than calcium as it is harder to get from an average diet and many are deficient in it. Magnesium is very helpful for many processes in the body – it is best known for reducing stress and for hydrating the colon – thereby, helping with regularity. It helps with sleep, stress, migraine headaches, constipation, hormone imbalances, and blood sugar.
Other supplements to help keep you healthy depend on your priorities. The most popular supplements are for healthy joints, vision, memory, energy, cholesterol, blood sugar, sleep, and weight loss.
The better supplements in these categories supply nutrients that help your body function better. Again, for the supplements to work, they need to contain ingredients that strengthen and nourish the body so it can function better.
To get healthy, or just healthier, think about underlying causes – not just symptoms and see what you can do to help your body get back in balance.
Tagged B12, Calcium Carbonate, Chemicals, Cholesterol, d-Alpha Tocopherol, Deficiencies, dl-Alpha Tocopherol, Energy, Essential Nutrients, Fatigue, Focus, Function, Health, Magnesium, Minerals, Multi-vitamins, nutrition, Quality, Supplements, Trace Minerals, Vitamins