The human brain, our beautifully designed master control center, is under attack from many modern environmental issues.Alarmingly, we're seeing increased cognitive impairment from young to old - Autism to Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, neuro-degenerative diseases (Parkinson's, ALS) brain fog, stroke, memory and neurological issues. Although some of the increase is due to an aging population, we're seeing brain impairment at all age levels and the incidences are getting worse. Losing one's cognitive function is an ultimate fear and exploring the issue of prevention is the subject of this article.
Unlike our ancestors, we now must contend with the daily assault of Wi-Fi, chemicals and what I like to call the "Dirty Dozen for the Brain." Modern technology has improved our lives in a myriad of ways, and we can't live in a bubble. But, to start, let's look at what may be affecting us daily and what we can do to avoid or at least minimize the Dirty Dozen- and keep our brains healthy.
The Dirty Dozen for the Brain
- Heavy metals
Mercury, lead and aluminum found in air, fish, water, food, consumer products, dental fillings and more- toxic heavy metals can kill brain cells.
- Toxic chemicals
200,000 chemicals are annually dumped into the environment including prescription drugs. Glyphosate (in Round-up) is an herbicide used on crops that has shown increased risk for some cancers, and able to affect the blood/brain barrier in humans and destroy neurotransmitters in studies with rats. Toxic chemicals kill brain cells.
Fluoride is found in drinking water, the food chain, dental products, etc. and according to a government study, 23% of the U.S. population aged 6-49 is suffering from some degree of fluoride poisoning (fluorosis). Fluorosis can show on the teeth with stains, spotting and pitting. Fluoride can destroy the pineal gland in the brain and is a known enzyme disruptor. Click link for more Sources of Fluoride.
- EMF’s, Electromagnetic Frequencies
Non-ionizing radiation from electricity, Wi-Fi, cell phones and more may destroy brain proteins and add stress to the brain. Read "Are You Sensitive to Electro-Smog? Ways to Minimize Exposure."
- 24/7 Stress
The impact of modern life, demanding jobs, family life, poor sleep, and lights at night from electronics keep the body and brain in a constant state of stress i.e., sympathetic up-regulation rather than the “rest and repair” that is needed for healthy brains and bodies.
- Poor Diet
Poor quality and fast food do not nourish the brain! Sugar, contaminates, emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners and other chemicals feed the bad bugs and create a host of issues that affect brain health. Too much sugar can impair brain function, and type 2 diabetes ages the brain.
Food allergies, chemical allergies and other allergies can contribute to chronic (brain) inflammation.
- Head, jaw and sinus issues
Dead teeth, jawbone cavitations, and infected sinuses may produce toxins and contribute to pain or chronic illness.
- Structural issues in the neck, veins and cranium
Chronic structural issues can cause pain and may even affect blood flow from the brain. Good chiropractic care can help correct these issues.
- Dental Stress
An over-closed bite may create a cranial problem and hinder the glymphatic system (the brain does not drain).
- Melatonin Deficiency
Not producing enough melatonin due to too much light at night, stress, late nights, jet lag, caffeine, poor sleep habits, pineal gland toxicity (aluminum, glyphosate, fluoride and toxic chemicals, EMFs) – Melatonin is the brain #1 detoxifier and antioxidant agent.
- Chronic Infections
The bad bugs/infections/virus that may infest the brain such as Lyme Disease, molds/fungi (notorious for brain fog problems), parasites and viruses (especially retroviruses) all may affect cognitive function and the ability to think clearly.
Once you understand what affects brain health, you can take positive steps to maintain a healthy brain. Note these are the same for your brain as for your body.
Maintaining a Healthy Brain
Remove the toxins from your life as much (and soon) as possible:
Eat organic, non-GMO food, and drink pure, clean water
Detox heavy metals, silver dental fillings and other dental remediation (dead teeth, cavitations)
Dental stress – get a dental evaluation for a TMJ/Cranial Mandibular structural problem that compromises your cranial rhythm and glymphatic system
Clean up your EMF/electrosmog exposures (Dirty electricity, Wi-Fi, electronics)
Lyme Disease and co-infections
Molds and other fungi
Viruses – especially retrovirus and herpes family
Improve Your Sleep
Consistent good quality sleep is key for rest and repair of the brain and body, the function of the glymphatic system, producing melatonin, mood, energy production and more.
Get a Sleep Assessment for Sleep Apnea and improve sleep hygiene, and possible supplementation with melatonin.
Consider a Genetic and Functional Medicine assessment to understand the reasons for your issues and what you can do about them.
Genetic risk factors combined with something in the environment (e.g. pesticides) can together start a disease process that affects the brain.
What is your toxic load that may be affecting your brain? How can you reduce it? Test, don’t guess.
What genetic factors may play a role in how you detox, or why you suffer from insomnia?
Epigenetics are genomic abnormalities in the expression of the genes that may be modified with functional medicine.
A knowledgeable Functional Medicine physician looks at genetics and the environment of our modern world and the affect it has on the brain and body so that a personalized treatment plan can be developed to address the underlying cause of your health issues.
Let's be proactive in protecting the health of our brain.
Mark McClure, DDS, is a holistic and biological dentist at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, a leading integrative medical and dental center serving Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia. Biological dentistry considers the impact of oral health and dentistry on the whole body and uses biocompatible dental materials and dental techniques to promote healing and wellness.