How many times a week, maybe daily, do you think I cannot get my thoughts straight or what’s the word I’m looking for?
Then you talk to a coworker or friend and find they complain of the same! Lately, it seems everyone thinks this brain fog is real. It’s happening all the time in my family, friend and work circles.
We blame too little coffee this morning or too much wine last night.
We women chalk it up to menopause or the world’s stresses.
Maybe we just write it off to getting older.
Those all have some validity, but what if it’s much deeper than that? What if all the things not staying put in your head, is because of what goes into your gut?
It is more than a low reading on the caffeine meter. Vitamin and mineral imbalances are at play. Hormones are included too. Vitamin D is a big one and I’ll elaborate on its power.
First, let’s talk about what could be killing your focus and memory. I’ll start with a few significant contributors.
Heavy metals in things we consume! Everyday products we’ve been told are safe and healthy aren’t. Many things we consume on the regular are quite high in metal contamination and proven to cause significant cognitive damage, even in children.
According to this Forbe’s article “Exposure to heavy metals in children has been linked to lower IQ scores, behavioral problems and an increased chance of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism.” Let’s talk about those metal laden products:
These popular workout drinks often contain metals, plus numerous toxins. There are quite a few dangers to these products that masquerade as something we should consume. They’re marketed as a health drink or meal replacement but neither our bodies nor brains know how to use most of the ingredients. They just end up causing inflammation in the gut. Eating actual protein will always win!
Commercially mass produced chocolate bars
Dark chocolate is healthy, right? I love the stuff and believe it’s good for you, in moderation!
I’m a little shocked and a lot disappointed it contains so much metal. In fact, Hershey’s and Trader Joe’s have both been sued for failing to disclose just how much metal their dark chocolate contains. Other chocolate makers have found dangerous levels of metals in theirs as well.
Dark chocolate can naturally contain high levels of both cadmium and lead, then the processing adds more. Side note – ‘processed’ is a bad word in food anyway. Keep reading for the warnings on ultra processed.
How can a spice be harmful? Right?!
With metals! Many spices are contaminated with high levels of metals. One article I read showed ground turmeric grown in Bangladesh had up to 500 times safe levels. Are there safe levels of consuming metal?
There were too many articles to hone in on one great one to link to, but I can say Consumer Reports found unsafe levels in a third of all spices they tested. Black and white peppers, garlic powder, curry powder and sesame seeds were the lowest.
I’d suggest doing some research to check your favorite spices.
Aluminum in most deodorants. The list of where we are easily ingesting metal is long.
Fluoride allows the body to more readily absorb aluminum.
Plus, even by itself, fluoride is a known neurotoxin. It’s proven to impair neurological development in children. Do you remember getting fluoride treatments in schools as a child? If we’d known about the effects fluoride has on brains, would we have introduced it so young? Or consumed it at all?
Ultra-Processed Foods and Sugar
Junk food, fast food, all the yummy snacks, things in boxes and plastic packaging. The stuff that can last months on your shelves. It may even have marketing on the front of it that presents as whole-grain or heart-healthy or all natural.
Most of them aren’t food at all and they’re wreaking havoc on our second brains.
Read the ingredients and pay attention to sugar, which has dozens of additional nicknames. A whole host of issues are coming from the non-food things we eat. From inflammation all the way to cognitive decline.
In addition to consuming way too many metals and too much sugar, our sedentary and screen-filled lives are causing epidemic levels of obesity.
Lack of exercise is one of the most dangerous lifestyle risks. It even has a new phrase coined ~ ‘sitting is the new smoking’.
Regular movement, especially exercise that builds and retains muscle mass is one of the best ways to battle the slowing of the mind. It also improves; healing power, bowel function, rest patterns, depression levels, creativity, confidence, digestion, intimacy and sleep. It’s a wonder drug that is completely under-prescribed. Plus, it’s free.
No links provided about how being sedentary contributes to cognitive decline as every trusted health advisor agrees, but here are some headlines that came up in my search:
“Optimal levels of exercise reverse cognitive decline in mice”
“How Exercise May Help Protect Your Brain From Cognitive Decline and Dementia”
“Exercise-induced protein may reverse age-related cognitive decline”
“Vigorous exercise may counter cognitive decline in early Alzheimer’s”
It’s also widely known that high stress levels lead to cognitive decline. Stress isn’t a bad thing, as it warns and readies us to deal with adverse situations by releasing adrenaline hormones, such as cortisol. But chronically elevated levels can do strange things to all processes in the body, short and long term.
Always being busy and stressed has become some strange badge of honor. Try to break free of this harmful cycle. Go on a ruthless pursuit of eliminating stressors.
This last cause of cognitive decline surprised me a little, yet makes so much sense. The gut is our second brain, after all. So, if dirty little body hitchhikers called parasites take up residence in your gut, cognitive decline is just one side effect you could experience.
People want to remain in denial that these loathsome little creatures exist but they’re incredibly common. They live and feast off our bodies in numerous ways. It took a small amount of months of meticulously clean eating and a not so small amount of herbal supplements to rid my gut of parasites.
There was definitely a side effect swap-out. I gave up frequent bouts of stomach flu and abdominal pain. In return, I got; better skin, fewer dark circles under my eyes, brain fog and depression improved, and that crazy, gurgling song my belly used to sing rarely plays these days!
Again, the gut is powerful in maintaining brain endurance! Plus, it helps to regulate a host of other processes in the body.
Now, how do we slow the process of a declining mind?
Vitamin D. COVID opened my eyes to the power of Vitamin D. Early on while the virus news was fairly new, researchers were already finding staggering numbers of Vitamin D deficiency linked to the worst of outcomes. This article suggested over 80% of patients were lacking Vitamin D. After learning, vitamin D is technically a hormone and going through my own hormone journey, I did some more digging.
This stuff is powerful. Many people are deficient and don’t realize a lack of Vitamin D is linked to heart disease, as well as insulin resistance (which is the pre-cursor to numerous other diseases).
It’s also been shown to contribute to Infertility in women, along with more menopausal symptoms. Too much can also have some weird side effects too, but having too much is extremely rare.
Supplement D and skip some sunscreen from time to time.
We can’t leave out where it all really does start. The gut! When you fix your diet, a lot of things can fix themselves. Easier said than done, but find ways to incorporate some foods that are brain healthy!
I grew up hearing ‘you are what you eat’ and it got turned into jokes at some point. Jokes like ‘well, then I’m fast, easy and cheap’. The fast, easy and cheap things we eat are closely linked to all our brain fog. The joke isn’t funny anymore, but that’s a whole different soapbox.
Some brain healthy things to eat include;
Nuts are one of those things that appears on all the ‘eat this for your brain’ lists. Especially walnuts. Eating one serving size daily is a great way to protect cognition!
Flavonoids in teas, fruit and vegs – Flavonols are a subclass of flavonoids, a large class of bioactive compounds with anti-inflammatory properties found in onions, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, apples, grapes, and berries as well as in tea and wine. Research a few and find some options you like!
FAT! Don’t let ‘diet culture’ make you fear fat. Your body needs it and your brain needs it badly. Make sure to get good fats like salmon, lean beef, avocado and eggs. Omega 3’s are especially beneficial to the brain long term.
Organic produce. This NIH article names pesticides as neurotoxins. Pesticides being eaten is just bad. Best thing you can do is buy organic and local. Better yet, grow some produce of your own.
It’s a toxic world. Start doing some things now that can help you avoid the decline all the world’s delicacies cause.