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How Your Environment Affects Brain Health

Brain Health and Air Pollution

We all know that air pollution has been linked to cancer & asthma but more evidence is showing how it could be a factor in our rising neurological disorders. Air pollution contains toxins such as chemicals and heavy metals which harms our health.

Last year in Colorado we had an increase in wildfire activity and we all felt the impact of the wildfires on our lungs. We were breathing in particulate matter which is basically a mixture of chemicals, dust, and heavy metals. The smaller that matter is, the more easily it can pass through your tissues including the brain. This small matter causes inflammation and damages our DNA, in fact researchers according to Cellcore Biosciences have found “the more particulate matter in a region’s air, the higher the risk of mental health disorders.”

Many of us know that we have a natural barrier for our brain called the blood-brain barrier, which can do a great job when it’s not damaged. Air pollution weakens the barrier allowing matter to enter the brain. They found in animal research that the hippocampus is susceptible to inflammatory damage from particulate matter. The Hippocampus is affected in many neurological and psychiatric disorders. It is responsible for storing long-term memory, and in Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus is the most affected region of the brain. We can give our body the support it needs through a healthy detox to get rid of heavy metals, chemicals or other toxins from air pollution.

What to Do?

BioActive Carbons

A favorite binder in our office is BioActive Carbons found in Cellcore products. These guys are the garbage men of metals and chemicals and even take the trash all the way out of the body. Their carbons give us amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants that are the “Remodelers” after the garbage men take the trash out they help rebuild.

Lions Mane Grows the Brain

Another solution to correcting neurological damage is lions mane mushroom. The commonly cultivated variety is Hericium erinaceus. In traditional Chinese medicine, lion's mane is used to alleviate gastrointestinal distress and as a restorative tonic. More recently, it's garnered the interest of scientists and medical professionals for its ability to support cognitive function and nervous system health. Hericenones and erinacines found in lion's mane stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that maintains and regenerates neurons. There's a lot of potential for these compounds to help in recovery after

nerve damage.

Brain Health and Drinking Water

Millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water each year. If you live in mountainous areas, we recommend finding local springs (that are tested by local municipalities) and filling up water jugs for home drinking use. If this kind of thing isn’t accessible to you, a filter will do. An article from Business Insider breaks down how these chemicals affect brain development and health:

Manganese: 9 million Americans consume more manganese through their public water system than recommended by the EPA. According to research, exposure to manganese during younger stages of life can lead to behavioral and intellectual impairment.

Nitrate: comes from fertilizers that leach into the ground and can, “reduce the amount of oxygen in an infant's blood, leading to methemoglobinemia, or "blue baby disease."

Lead: Although lead service lines were banned in 1986, roughly ⅓ of US water systems contain lead pipes. When the pipes begin to corrode, lead leaks into citizens' water supply. According to the article, “Children exposed to lead can suffer permanent brain damage, which often results in learning disabilities and increased violent behavior. In adults, chronic exposure to low levels of lead can cause nausea, seizures, and reproductive issues.”

Chlorine: In the US, we add chlorine to drinking water to kill germs and harmful disease, but when mixed with other organic compounds some harmful byproducts are created. According to Bendix, “one of these byproducts, a group of chemicals known as trihalomethanes (THMs), has been linked to kidney problems and increased cancer risk. Another, known as haloacetic acids (HAAs), causes skin irritation and could also increase cancer risk.”

PFOA: Famous clean-water advocate Erin Brockovich told Business Insider that her biggest worry is the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA is the man-made chemical used in teflon to ensure that food doesn’t stick to the pan when cooking. According to the article, “the EPA has identified 45 states that have perchlorate in drinking water, which puts an estimated 16 million Americans at risk of consuming the chemical. The chemical poses the greatest danger to children and pregnant women, since it's been linked to brain development issues.”

Arrensic: excessive groundwater pumping leaves arsenic in wells and city water and has been linked to brain development issues in children.

Fluoride: Also found in toothpaste, fluoride is found still consumed by 66% of the US through their drinking water. On the topic of brain health, “In 2012, researchers from Harvard University conducted a meta-analysis of 27 studies, published over the span of 22 years, related to fluoride exposure and brain development. Their analysis determined that children in areas with high levels of fluoride in their drinking water had significantly lower IQ scores than children in areas with low levels of fluoride...The World Health Organization has also determined that chronic exposure to high levels of fluoride can impair muscles or lead to joint stiffness and pain.”

Lifestyle Tips For Cognitive Support

It may seem a bit ironic, but we believe that stopping to breathe, be mindful and meditate will actually increase focus for the day. Yes, slowing down will help you feel more accomplished. Here are some steps to hone in on your ability to focus that we got from Gaiam:

Step 1: listen to your breathing

“When you're meditating, the point is to focus on one thing and allow your other thoughts to pass by, according to Mayo Clinic. For someone who has difficulties paying attention to just one thing (which includes most of us), that can be daunting. An easy way to get started is to simply listen to your breathing.

Sit comfortably so you're not distracted by physical pain, then close your eyes and listen to your breath. Breathe in and out through your nose, but don't otherwise try to control the rate or depth of your breath.

When thoughts try to crowd in on your meditation, let them fade as you refocus on listening to your breath. Feel how it flows down your throat. Feel your abdomen expand. Stay here as long as you can.”

Step 2: don’t move

“Most people are fidgety. Sitting perfectly is still a pretty foreign practice, but it can help you focus by putting you in control of your physical body instead of being controlled by your comfort. Sit as comfortably as you can, but don't worry about listening to your breath. Close your eyes, and try to not move a single muscle. You'll find yourself bombarded by itches, hairs tickling your face and your joints protesting. Unless you're experiencing pain above regular discomfort, don't succumb to anything. The focus required to ignore your body and sit perfectly still will calm your mind and increase your ability to concentrate over time.”

Step 3: use a mantra

“Once you get comfortable with sitting still and you can listen to your breathing for extended periods of time without difficulty, try to introduce a mantra. A mantra is simply a repeated syllable, word or phrase that helps you focus. During your meditation session, repeat your mantra over and over.

A simple one is the syllable “ohm,” which you say on the exhale of each breath. When you inhale, thoughts will try to rush back into your mind, and you will have to focus on keeping your mind still as you go into the sound. This will develop your ability to continually concentrate on one thing, even with interruptions.”

Drink water, hydrate your brain

When your brain is properly hydrated you'll be more focused, think faster, and experience greater clarity and creativity— your whole body will thank you and your day will be much more productive.


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