“I can’t remember why I walked in the room… “
Yeah, that was me some years back. And it’s what a lot of my clients tell me every day: I can’t remember names, I can’t retain what I just learned, I can’t focus without getting distracted.
Don’t let anyone tell you those are “normal signs of aging”. Or “just hormones”.
Nope. You can reverse all that. I did, and more.
For me, it was not only menopausal changes but the dreaded “chemo brain”. Oh, and did I mention my family history of Alzheimer’s disease? I was determined not to succumb.
Going through chemo a few years back, I was still working full time, and my clients never knew I had breast cancer . So it was even more important to maintain a high level of function, to make sure I gave full value to each person who hired me to help them with their own health.
I did a lot in my efforts to counter both the illness, and its treatment. Some of it was invaluable; some of it, uhhh, not so much. As always, I am happy to guide you past my wrong turns, some of which were expensive, some merely a waste of time.
Bottom line? It worked. Because honestly: post-menopause, post-cancer, and post-chemo, at the age of 61, my mind functions better than ever. (And the rest of me ain’t bad either!)
A couple of weeks ago, at a reunion for a recent Zen Vitality Detox Class, this subject came up. The group was so amazed by my recall, my focus, my ability to follow several threads through a rollicking discussion among many women. It made me realize how far I’ve come from the days when I’d walk into a room and be totally helpless to figure out why I was there.
You might know what I’m talking about…
I’m not remarkable in experiencing this, or in my ability to bounce back. You can, too. I’ve researched it extensively, tested it, and implemented a program that makes sense for anyone. I’ll continue to tweak it as new research and new products emerge, and they will.
After all, that’s one of my greatest delights in life: to continue to expand the depth and breadth of my knowledge and understanding, and then put it to practical use for myself and others.
The foundation, as always, is Nutrition. Inflammation and insulin resistance effect the brain, along with every other organ. So we need to get inflammation down, lower that hyper-vigilant response that comes from too many foods we can’t actually digest, and even out blood sugar issues. And yes, supplements and other supports, can help. Sometimes dramatically.
This is material I’ve written about and talk about endlessly, but here are my basics:
- Identify and eliminate food sensitivities, which increase inflammation and aut0-immune issues.
- Eliminate gluten 100% and consider eliminating, or at least minimizing, all grains.
- Minimize sugars, foods that are metabolized as sugars, and packaged/processed foods.
- Eat real food: small portions of animal protein, plenty of healthy fats, nuts and seeds, lots of veggies, a little bit of fruit.
- You are not what you eat. You are what you can digest. Heal your gut.
- You are also what you eat, ate. Choose pastured/grass fed/free range animals.
- Choose organic produce when possible. Check the annual lists of the dirtiest and cleanest. Second choice is fresh and local.
- Hydrate with good quality water. Rule of thumb is half your weight in ounces each day. If it goes right to your bladder, you are not being hydrated.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners, which don’t help with weight loss or maintenance, and are toxic.
Along with nutrition, here are some of the other things I recommend.
Okay, I know some of you just want to know what to take. Go ahead and skip on down, but come back to this later, okay?
Movement and exercise. Duh.
When it comes to exercise, it’s not about doing more, and it’s certainly not about lots of cardio. It’s about the the right kind and quality of exercise. It’s about exercising smarter. An hour on the treadmill or elliptical won’t help. You need functional fitness, intensity, and you need to engage your muscles in ways that are natural to the body.
My favorite HIIT (high intensity interval training) program is 15 minutes 3 times a week. No equipment, practically no space either, works at any level (there’s a beginner, intermediate and advanced version demo on all the time). It’s simple, effective, and oh – did I say cheap? Yup, all of that. You can read about it here. Just ignore the cheesy sales page, if it bothers you. Get the program. You need it. It works.
And then there’s walking. Not sufficient as exercise, but essential for health. I’m grateful to my little pup for making sure we get out and walk on this beautiful earth at least 3 times a day, and often 4. Without her, I’d never make the time for this consistently. (lesson? adopt a dog! and if you have one, make sure you walk with it. Don’t just open the door and let it out.)
Walking, especially outside in nature, is so supportive of our health. It’s not about calories, or burning fat. It’s about movement: more of that functional fitness. Walking is beneficial for the lymphatics, especially if you swing your arms. And it’s about breaking up your day with cycles of regeneration, rest and recovery, ideally in nature. The brain can’t focus at the same level for long periods of time. Studies consistently show that short periods of focus up to 90 minutes are far more productive.
Dr Klinghardt (my medical mentor since 2009) has always said that walking turns on all sorts of enzyme processes that we don’t get otherwise, and recently, I’ve been seeing more studies to back this up. And have you seen the facebook meme from Dr Joe Dispenza? It goes like this:
“We have proved that 2 hours of nature sounds reduces stress hormones by up to 800%, and activates 500-600 DNA segments responsible for healing and repairing the body.”
I like to think about the fact that most days I get 24.
And then there’s yoga, which combines functional fitness, breathing, and meditation (see below), is superb for your lymphatics, your immune system, your nervous system and more. And inversions are fabulous for your brain, whether you’re doing a long head stand (my fave) or simply legs up the wall.
Meditation I’ve previously written and cited many other articles, as have others, and have even taught whole classes on the specific benefits of meditation on focus and memory. Huge. It’s not about sitting unmoving in full lotus position for an hour a day. Not necessary. Eight to twelve minutes has been shown in numerous studies to help dramatically. The key is to make it a regular, daily practice. And you might be surprised at what constitutes a practice, and all its other benefits. There are many forms of meditation, and one of them is sure to suit you.
Sleep A well known “bio-hacker” used to boast he only needed 4 or 5 hours of quality sleep to be at his most productive. I don’t hear him saying that any more; he seems to have a new respect for quantity along with quality of sleep.
There’s just so long you can cheat your biochemistry.
Dr Klinghardt says “Sleep can rewire a broken brain” and research backs this up. But you may be ignoring some of the factors that interfere with sleep, including hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances, chronic infections, wifi (turn that sucker OFF at night), blood sugar issues, sleep apnea and other breathing issues, chronic pain, emotional issues and more.
(If you need help with a comprehensive program to address this, please make an appointment, so we can get started. Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis can change your life. And your health. And definitely your brain.)
Did you know that your brain is self-cleaning? It works like this: During the day, your brain cells swell in size as you use them. Every night your brain cells pump down to 60% of normal size, squeezing out metabolic waste and toxins.
Well, that’s what’s supposed to happen. But…if you don’t sleep well, and enough, it doesn’t happen. And metabolic waste and toxins just accumulate.
Basic Sleep Hygiene: Sleep in a cool, black-out-dark room, turn off wi-fi, no screens before bed, no caffeine after noon.
Supplements for Sleep
The first supplement most people think of for sleep is melatonin, but this peptide hormone is vastly misunderstood. When produced naturally by the pineal gland, melatonin induces sleep, and helps regenerate and detoxify the brain. Melatonin protects against chemical, free radical, microbial and heavy metal damage that lead to degeneration of brain structure and function.
Yup, it’s really, really important.
BUT melatonin does not cross the blood brain barrier when taken as a pill or capsule. At most, it may help relax your muscles a bit, but it’s actually not helping you sleep. (Note: There’s a way around this, but it’s too complicated for this article.)
The sleep aids I recommend are healing and supportive of optimal, natural function, rather than simply sedative. As always, we want to reclaim and support our innate ability, not simply mechanically manipulate our symptoms.
Here are two of my favorite effective sleep aids:
1. CES Ultra: this small portable medical device is proven to help with insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression, as well as other issues. It is simple, safe and effective. I now have a few to rent, as well as some available for purchase at $349. The CES Ultra is the only CES unit with the proven technology used in the more than 100 scientific and research studies related to CES (Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation), including the Harvard School of Public Health Meta-Analysis. CES causes the brain to restore the various neurochemicals back to pre-stress homeostasis, resulting in a peaceful, centered, and efficient state of being. It is used for 30-45 minutes one to three times daily. You can use it while reading, watching TV, working, etc.
2. GABA: a neurotransmitter responsible for calming excitement and that maddening chatter in your brain, GABA is a lifesaver for many. It does not make you sleepy, but quiets what yogis call “the monkey mind”. It can be used both day and night, as it is not at all sedative, just calming. During the day it can actually help with focus. But you must use the PharmaGaba form, and read labels. I was horrified when a client brought in a tablet the size of a quarter that was mostly sugar and other flavorings, and very little actual GABA. She got it at a health food store…
I sell PharmaGABA in 3 forms: capsule, chewable tablet, and liquid, all of which actually work, have the potency and absorption you need, without anything you don’t want. Many find the tablet is great for those middle of the night or too-early-morning wake ups. Keep them near your bed, pop a couple when it happens, close your eyes, and you’re back to sleep. They even taste good!
There are many other supplements – and other kinds of sleep tweaks as well – depending on the particular issues keeping you from sleeping soundly. All supplements I have included in this article are those I’m comfortable recommending generally.
Bottom line, as I’ve told clients for over 2 decades: Sleep is Health Essential #1
By the way, all 3 pieces of equipment in my Zen Vitality Room will help with this too.
Supplements for Better Brain Function
This falls into two categories: long term and short term. I use several supplements personally, and many in my practice, and find they are generally synergistic. Short term supplements help you focus and perform more productively each day. Long term supplements help prevent what’s considered “normal degeneration”.
1. Short term Yes, there are safe and healthy supplements you can take to be more productive and have better focus over the course of your day.
I love Ciltep, a natural supplement for motivation, concentration and memory. Many of my clients report that it works as well or better than prescriptions they’ve used for ADD/ADHD. (If you are on prescription medication, please discuss it with your prescribing doctor. I am not a medical practitioner).
Of course, low-toxin coffee, with pastured butter and MCT or Brain Octane Oil, is the original brain booster. Yup, I’m talking Bulletproof, and I highly recommend it. The healthy fats help deliver the beneficial components of coffee to the brain and sustain the effects longer. But keep it to one cup in the morning, because caffeine circulates in your system for 8-12 hours. So that afternoon pick-me-up is still pumping you up at bedtime. For more on this subject, read my full article and get links for products here. I carry most of the Bulletproof/Upgraded Self line in the office or you can order online.
Dopamine is another neurotransmitter associated with motivation, short-term memory, creativity and more. Its also helps with mood. Multiple studies, including a 2013 paper in the Journal of Neuroscience have found that dopamine is critically involved in keeping you motivated and engaged in positive behavioral patterns.
I carry a natural Dopamine Booster designed to be synergistic with Ciltep; great combo!
2. Long Term For long term brain function support and prevention of what’s generally considered “normal degeneration”, I love 2 formulas: EHT and Niacel.
EHT comes out of 2 decades of research at Princeton University, which led to the development of EHT® Age-Defying Supplement, Mind Enhancement Formula™, a natural mixture of bioactive molecules isolated from – yup – coffee.
Promotes better cognitive function & overall brain health.
Improves memory and recall.
Fortifies and strengthens natural brain functions.
Increases focus and mental alertness.
Protects and supports neuronal networking.
Enhances the body‘s natural energy stores.
Boosts the body‘s immune system
While EHT is a relatively new product, I am very impressed with how well it’s testing for virtually everyone in my practice so far, and I added it to my own supplement protocol immediately. The research makes a lot of sense to me and I am very excited to read some of the results people are getting.
I have a few single boxes left in my office, or you can order here.
Niacel Remember studying mitochondria and ATP from biology? Well, mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with diabetes, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, lyme, and Autism. If you don’t make enough ATP you’ll experience brain fog, fatigue, muscle stiffness, and take longer to recover from anything. It’s involved in 456 enzyme reactions, 19 metabolic pathways, and 499 chemical reactions.
Fundamentally, again, this is about correcting nutrition, removing toxins, exercise, etc.
But… if you want a little help while you’re making all those changes, I highly recommend Niacel, or Resveracel, which combines the benefits of Resveratrol with Niacel. It supports cognitive function, provides neuroprotection, enhances cognitive function and endurance and promotes healthy aging, all by supporting mitochondrial production of ATP. It can also help with weight management.
So that’s the quick (ha!) rundown. It’s a vast subject and as always, but my main point is this:
Forget what they told you: about who you are and how you are, about aging, health, genes.
Forget it and determine your own future, your own present.
More is possible than you ever imagined.
Want help? Need stuff? That’s what I’m here for. Of course, my preference is to help you with a comprehensive approach to your health and well-being, including your brain, but I’ve chosen supplements here that I feel confident recommending.
All products mentioned are available through my office, at discounted prices.
CES Ultra $349 or $50 for a one week rental
PharmaGABA $40 capsules; $33 chewable tablets; Liposomal formula $30
Dopamine Booster $40
Bulletproof Coffee $19 (regular or decaf, ground or beans. I also have non-plastic KCups for $40)
MCT Oil $15 Brain Octane $23.50 (16 oz size)
EHT buy it online here or from me in the office while I still have some single boxes
Niacel $53 Resveracel $50