4 Tips to Combat Brain Fog

Nutrition is often solely associated with physical health; however, clinical studies linking nutrition to mental health are becoming more abundant.  Mental health is crucial for people to perform their best.  Have you ever heard someone complain about brain fog? Has your brain ever felt foggy? Brain fog can be a reference for forgetfulness, feeling absent minded, having difficulty processing information, or just an unclear though process or overall feeling of fatigue. One way to think of it is a “muddled thought process.”   Brain fog is not yet a medical condition but it seems to be a common phenomenon experienced by many, and it is not a desirable experience.  How does one treat this un-diagnosable brain fog?

The solution is different for everyone so I would recommend trying a few different things to relieve mental “cloudiness.”

First: Get your Diet Right.

Your brain needs proper nutrients just like the rest of your body. Phase One diet is a recommendation for a place to start.  The diet consists of organic meats, a lot of vegetables, some fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs and some dairy products.  The diet excludes refined sugar, grains, corn, potatoes, peanuts, pistachios, alcohol and other carb-heavy or starchy foods. I have actually tried a similar diet myself (the only difference was that I did not consume meat).  I followed the diet by a program called Simple Green Smoothie and I cannot explain enough the mental clarity I experienced.  Not only could I focus clearly throughout the day but I felt more in touch with my emotions and felt like I knew the root of where my feelings were coming. I highly recommend this for anyone.  If it were not so difficult to maintain such a diet, I would happily do so every day.

Second: Rid yourself of Pathogenic Yeasts.

Yeasts and pathogenic fungi are commonly overlooked.  The Phase One diet avoids yeasts and pathogenic fungi but one could try adding anti-fungals to their diet, which include olive leaf extract, oregano oil, or garlic.  These will aid the Phase One diet to help rid your body of pathogenic yeasts. Some might find the Phase One diet in combination of these anti-fungals work wonders.

Third: Exercise Regularly.

Exercising regularly helps your circulatory system to run optimally by flooding your body with oxygen.  This could help one to regain mental sharpness and clarity.  Exercising regularly also helps to maintain regular energy levels and thus rid brain fog.

Fourth: Consume Key Supplements.

Once you have figured out which diet works best for your system, and exercise regularly, it could be time to add some key nutrients to your system.  Good fats have been shown to play a role in mental health in addition to physical health.  MCT oil, coenzyme Q10, L-carnetine, phosphatidyl serine and rhodiola rosea might be good ones to try.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Let’s learn about Vitamin B1! Thiamin is a water-soluble B vitamin critical for good nutrition.  Thiamin aids in the production of energy in all tissues in the body but is most crucial for tissues in the heart and skeletal muscle.  It is necessary for the body to produce the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine.  Acetylcholine is the chemical used by the nervous system and the brain.

If one has a Vitamin B1 deficiency, they might exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Edema
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Neuropathy
  • Muscle wasting
  • Fatigue

Vitamin B1 has been shown to help the following conditions:

  • Beri Beri (wet and dry – forms affect the nervous system and the heart)
  • Intestinal disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hypothyroid
  • Congestive heart failures

Things that could interfere with or deplete Vitamin B1 are as follows:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Diuretics used to lower blood pressure
  • Seizure medications

And finally, where can you find Vitamin B1? You can find it in foods such as:

  • Pork
  • Legumes
  • Watermelon
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Organ meats
  • Dairy products

Antibiotic Resistance: Have we had it wrong the whole time?

An antibiotic resistant bacteria called CRE is on the loose.  According to LA Times, two people have died from it and another 170 have been exposed. The germ is thought to kill about 50% of those exposed because antibiotics do not kill the germ.  It is possible that the germ is getting spread through endoscopes that are not properly cleaned and then reused at UCLA.  The media is outraged that one of the top five hospitals in the country could be at fault for this, but somewhat relieved that the FDA is stepping in to attempt to ameliorate the problem.

The endoscopes and other metal devices are sterilized in between uses. The sterilization process, also known as “autoclaving,” kills bacteria and viruses.  However, fungal metabolites, “mycotoxins” are actually resistant to antibiotics and are heat stable.

A fungal infection, a common occurrence today, mimics an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection.  Antibiotics do not kill fungus and may actually even accelerate their growth.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) one is more likely to get a fungal infection when taking an antibiotic.  These people who have been exposed to CRE have most likely already been taking antibiotics because their doctors think they have a bacterial infection.  And then the fungus grows with more antibiotics.

Once the poisonous mycotoxins have been deposited in our tissues, no autoclave can clean our systems.  It is crucial that our hospitals understand the importance of differentiating between fungal and bacterial infections.  All antibiotic resistant cases should be prescribed live saving antifungals as soon as possible.

We recently touched upon mycotoxins, what they are, what they do and the different types.  Read about this in a previous post, here.

Read more from Doug Kaufmann here. Doug Kaufmann takes his health promoting seriously in his blog, knowthecause.com.

Acai Berries

There are certain foods that behave similar to medicine and can help maintain health or even heal certain conditions.  Berries have many health-promoting nutrients such as heart-healthy fats, anti-oxidants and fiber.  Berries refer to blueberries, raspberries and blackberries but there are many other kinds of berries that contain phytochemicals like cranberries, cherries, and strawberries.  Another berry- the acai berry- was unknown to areas outside of South and Central America up until 10 years ago.

Kathleen Berry-Hebert

Acai berries are native to South and Central America.  Amazonian people have been eating acai berries for centuries.  These particular berries are low in sugar and acid, meaning they are very susceptible to oxidation.  This makes transportation of acai berries fairly difficult hence why they have only recently been discovered by North American food suppliers.

While it would not be accurate to make grand claims about the effects of acai berries, some studies have shown that the berries can be beneficial for oxidative stress, certain cancers, and metabolic disorders.  A known benefit of the berries is there inherent anti-oxidant value. The oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC score) is the highest of any fruit or vegetable.

Acai berries have become a critical ingredient in many products even in topical and cosmetic products in addition to foods.  If the berries are not processed immediately, they will oxidize and lose their anti-oxidant value.  Because of this, the berries are usually processed before exported.  While acai berries contain many health benefits, they are usually added to foods that already have a high amount of sugar.  When looking for foods that contain acai, be sure to analyze the other ingredients to make sure they are not overloaded in sugar.

Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are known to cause growth stunting through a few different ways:

  1. reducing appetite
  2. causing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  3. toxic effects on the body and organs

There are four main mycotoxins that are linked to growth stunting in children:

  1. aflatoxins
  2. fumonisin
  3. deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin)
  4. zearalenone

1. Aflatoxins are made from Aspergillus species which are usually found in grain or peanuts that were stored incorrectly.  Studies have found greater alfatoxin exposure is associated with high rates of growth retardation.

2. Fumonisins are produced by Fusarium species and grow in domestic animals. Infants in the developing world tend to consume fumonisins in abundance.  One study linked higher fumonsin exposure with slower growth rates in children.

3. Deoxynivalenol, DON, is a trichothecene mycotoxin produced from the Fusarium species.  Ingestion can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. DON can pass to the placenta and reduce growth of unborn children.

4. Zearalenone is also produced by Fusarium fungi that grows on foods. It can affect growth of animals.  There is currently a lack of research on the effects of zearalenone on human growth.

Let’s talk about Broccoli

Broccoli is so healthy and so easy to obtain and now… new research shows that it may be beneficial to symptoms of autism!

Sulforaphane, a chemical that is abundant in broccoli, was the root of a recent study conducted at Harvard/MassGeneral and Johns Hopkins.  The study is called “Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)” and was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They collected young men with moderate to severe ASD to participate in a placebo-controlled, double blind, randomized trial.  The sulforaphane molecule exists in highest concentration in broccoli, out of all the cruciferous vegetables.  The young men were given the phytochemical sulforaphane, derived from the broccoli sprout.  The young men who receved the chemical instead of the placebo showed substantial improvement in their behavior.  A significantly greater number of men who were given the sulforaphane demonstrated improved social interactions, verbal communications, and also showed less abnormal behavior.  When they no longer received the sulforaphane, their behavioral patterns returned.

Sulforaphane is known to reduce oxidative stress, lower antioxidant capacity depress glutathione synthesis, and reduce mitochondrial function and oxidative phosphorylation, reversing chemical reactions in the body that exist in those with autism.

Dr. Paul Talalay of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine answered some questions about their study:

How did you and your colleagues conceive of this study?

Understanding that the idea that broccoli could help with symptoms of autism is obviously far-fetched he says, “We became impressed that many patients diagnosed with autism showed biochemical defects in their ability to protect themselves against oxidative stress and against inflammation.  They also showed some deficiencies in energy generation.  20 years ago, while working on what seemed like a totally unrelated process- prevention of cancer- we obtained from broccoli sulforaphane, a compound that in other systems was highly effective in protecting cells against oxidative damage and to correct other abnormalities associated with autism”.  They realized it might be worth their time to experiment if sulforaphane can ameliorate symptoms of autism.

Dr. Talalay goes on to explain that this was one of the few clinical studies that focused on correcting fundamental biochemical and physiological mechanisms associated with autism.  Most other studies have been designed to correct behavioral problems.

It is possible that other plant and synthetic chemicals can achieve similar results as sulforaphane like boosting the intrinsic genes that protect cells against oxidative stress and inflammation.  Dr. Talalay is hopeful that this study can be replicated and the effects are so significant that they can actually help those with autism.  You can find more information about this study here.

Antibiotics and our Immune Systems

Kathleen Berry-Hebert

There are many questions that come up when discussing food allergies, but a common question lately is, “Does fungus cause food allergies?” This question is gaining traction because of the frequent prescription and use of antibiotics, which are fungal poisons known as mycotoxins.

A new idea floating around the medical world is the belief that antibiotics are causing an erosion of the intestinal terrain, which is a delicate and vital tissue when it comes to our immune system. This erosion of the intestinal terrain may be leaving us vulnerable to certain immune disorders like allergies to certain foods.

Following the death of a teenage boy who experienced an allergic reaction to peanuts, New York University Physician Dr. Martin Blaser began to explore why this occurred. It is Blaser’s belief that antibiotics, not peanuts, were responsible for weakening the young boys immune system. As a result of the antibiotics, the boy experienced a more serious reaction the next time a peanut was consumed.

Mycotoxins are often linked to some of the most common symptoms or diseases. These poisons can also lead to gene mutations in cancer cells. Peanuts can also carry a poisonous mycotoxin called “aflatoxin,” which can cause death.

Our bodies naturally carry good bacteria in our intestines. When we consume antibiotics, not only do we kill bad bacteria, but kill good bacteria – depleting our bodies of its natural good bacteria. The existing good bacteria in our bodies are a vital part of our immune system, so you can imagine the effect of killing all bacteria in our body.

Today, the market is flooded with thousands of antibiotics and it does not appear to be relenting. We find ourselves in a constant cycle of developing more antibiotics as bad bacteria are able to evade our strongest. This process coupled with over prescribing is driving us toward a serious problem. Let’s hope that Dr. Martin Blaser and the many other scientists investigating this issue will find a resolution.

Health Benefits of Kale

Kathleen Berry-Hebert

First let’s learn some background on this newly popular, rightfully so, cruciferous vegetable.  Kale, originally from Asia, is in the same family as broccoli and cabbage.  There are many different types of kale such as ornamental and dinosaur kale.  Ornamental is more colorful and dinosaur has a stronger texture but sweeter taste. It was in the 1600s that kale made its way through Europe all the way to the United States.

Kale has increased in popularity because of its health benefits.  It is most well known for its anti-inflammatory effects.  Kale has a high amount of Omega-3 in the form of alpha linolenic acid.  Studies have shown this particular form helps to decrease inflammation.  It also has a high level of vitamin K, also believed to combat inflammatory processes.

Kale has a high number of anti-oxidants, which give it strong, anti-cancer properties. Kale has carotenoids lutein, beta-carotene, flavonoids kaempferol, and quercitin, all cancer preventing compounds.  Another compound believed to help prevent against cancer, glucosinolate, is also found in kale.  Glucosinolates have been found to lower risk of colon, breast, bladder, prostate, and ovarian cancer.

There have been studies that show kale helps in lowering cholesterol.  Kale binds to digestive bile that builds in your system if you have high cholesterol.  When kale binds to digestive bile, it helps to pass the bile through your system instead of allowing it to get reabsorbed.

Kale is also thought to have a strong anti-fungal function, which would be beneficial to fight against pathogenic fungi.

It is likely that steaming kale for about five minutes is how one will get the maximum nutritional potency.  But there are many ways to cook kale! Some say massage the kale drastically improves the texture.

Back to Coconut Oil

I recommend the book, The Coconut Oil Miracle, 5th Edition, by Bruce Fife. The fifth edition is updated with current information about the benefits of coconut oil.  It gives ways to use coconut oil that will maximize its effect.  The book also includes a nutrition plan with 50 recipes! When used as a dietary supplement in good or applied to the skin, it has been found to:

  • strengthen the immune system
  • promote weight loss
  • improve digestion
  • prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases
  • beautify skin and hair
  • prevent premature aging of skin

The author, Dr. Bruce Fife, is one of the leading authorities on the health benefits of coconut oil.  He references the latest studies that link coconut oil to heart function, bodily detoxification, Alzheimer’s prevention, weight loss, and more.

 

It’s Flu Season: Get your Vitamin D!

During flu season, it’s vital for children to keep their vitamin D at optimum levels. The common flu in scientific terms is a deficiency of vitamin D. A sufficient amount of vitamin D produces enough antimicrobial peptides, which protect the body from the flu. Vitamin D deficiency has been increasing in the United States in the last two decades. Below are 10 of symptoms that one might endure when experiencing a vitamin D deficiency.
1) Muscle weakness – When someone is experiencing muscle weakness, they are most likely lacking in vitamin D. People who suffer from a deficiency in vitamin D are often having trouble with certain muscle functions.
2) Chronic pain – People experiencing chronic pain in their bones or muscles could have an issue with their vitamin D levels.  A study in Minneapolis took into account 150 patients with chronic pain. 93% of those patients had very low levels of vitamin D.
3) Constant fatigue – one of the main attributes of vitamin D is that it produces energy for the body. If someone is constantly tired, it’s best if they get their vitamin D levels checked.
4) Psoriasis – Vitamin D plays a major role in treating patients with psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that could possibly be related to low vitamin D levels.
5) Depression – this psychological disorder might just be an issue with your diet and nutrition. Vitamin D is vital for producing serotonin in the brain.  Some people who suffer from depression might only suffer during the winter months. This is because a lack of sun is directly correlated with a lack of vitamin D.
6) Regular respiratory issues – if low levels of vitamin D coincide with the flu, then it only makes sense that people who have a consistent symptom of the flu (respiratory issues) might have low levels of vitamin D.
7) Sweaty head – A sweaty head is a symptom of rickets, which is the most dangerous and common form of vitamin D deficiency in kids.
8) Hypertension – A deficiency is vitamin D is a factor that might lead to hear failure. People who suffer from high blood pressure are often told to increase their dosage of vitamin D in the form of fermented cod liver oil.
9) Chronic Kidney Disease – Heart failure and disease is commonly linked to kidney disease. Seeing as hear failure is connected to low volumes of vitamin D, we can only conclude that there is also a connection to kidney diseases.
10)  Vitamin D is an important element in creating a stronger immune system. If someone is constantly sick, then they might be suffering from diminished Vitamin D levels.