WELCOME BACK TO my series of blogs on my book, The UltraMind Solution. Download a free sneak preview.
Now for today’s blog …
I have some bad news and some good news for you about your brain. The bad news is that we live in a poisoned world that damages our brains. The good news is that we know how to avoid and help our bodies get rid of toxins, which gives our brain a chance to heal and repair itself.
We are exposed to toxins we were never designed to deal with — and nearly all of them cause brain injury.
A recent study of umbilical cord blood found 287 toxic chemicals, 217 of which are toxic to the brain and nervous system. And that is what infants are exposed to even before they take their first breath. These toxins include mercury, lead, PCBs, BPA, phthalates, plasticizers, flame retardants, and more.
There are 6 million pounds of mercury emissions from coal burning every year and 2.5 billion pounds of toxic chemicals released into the environment every year. Where does it all go? At least some of it gets into your body — and your brain!
In fact, a recent government survey found an average of 148 chemicals in our bodies. And those were only the ones they tested.
The truth is that the brain is very resilient and can heal from toxins, if you get rid of all the insults to it and provide all the necessary ingredients for optimal functioning.
Did you know that 25 percent of New Yorkers have toxic blood levels of mercury from eating too much sushi? Or that 15 percent of American women of child-bearing age have toxic levels of mercury in their blood?(1) That means that 15 percent of the 4 million children born in the United States each year, or 600,000 children, are exposed to toxic levels of mercury in the womb.
And then there are the 3,500 different chemicals that are added to our food, and the more than 3,000 chemicals found in our homes.
In today’s blog I will discuss some of the effects these toxic chemicals have on our brains. I’ll tell you a story about what happens when you limit your toxic exposure and enhance your body’s detoxification system. And I’ll reveal the master detoxifying molecule made in your body.
The Toxic American
The average American consumes literally pounds of hormones, antibiotics, food chemicals, additives, artificial sweeteners, and MSG each year. Each one of these toxic chemicals has been shown to harm the brain.
On average we consume a gallon of neurotoxic pesticides and herbicides each year by eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. (2) (And that’s with people eating much less than the 8 to 10 servings they should be eating!) Remember, pesticides work BECAUSE they are neurotoxic to pests—they attack their nervous system.
Imagine what they do to your nervous system.
A recent study in The Lancet (3) clearly showed that food additives make children hyperactive. Researchers took about 300 normal children and split them into two groups. Each group was given an identical-looking colored drink. One was naturally colored, the other contained sodium benzoate and many other colors and additives. The children who drank the tainted beverage were all much more hyperactive.
These compounds (and the total load of all the other toxins we are exposed to) create changes in mood, aggressive behavior, depression, problems with attention and focus, sleep problems, reduced intellectual performance, and memory loss.
It isn’t just occasionally consuming one red candy, blue cupcake, or the few drops of pesticide sprayed on our strawberries. It is the consistent, repetitive, cumulative presence of these chemicals in our lives that leads to our broken brains and the epidemics of autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and dementia we see in today’s world.
Let me tell you a story of a patient who had a miraculous recovery from what most medical experts say is an irreversible condition—dementia. The truth is that the brain is very resilient and can heal from toxins, if you get rid of all the insults to it and provide all the necessary ingredients for optimal functioning.
That is what we did for George — and the results were nothing short of miraculous.
Waking Up from Dementia
George had a diagnosis of dementia and came with his wife to see me. He could no longer manage his business affairs, he couldn’t remember what he read any more, he had become increasingly unable to function at home, and he had to withdraw from family and social relationships.
There is no known effective treatment for dementia. But we do know a lot about what affects brain function and brain aging: our nutrition, vitamin deficiencies,omega-3 fat deficiencies, inflammation from food, infections, environmental toxins, stress, lack of exercise, hormonal imbalances, and trouble producing energy in our cells.
I addressed all of these things with George. But the biggest problem he had was a big load of mercury from living near a cement plant his whole life and having a mouth full of silver fillings. He also had a few genes that were preventing him from effectively getting rid of or detoxifying the mercury from his body. As a result he had one of the highest levels of mercury I had ever seen. The effects of this poisoning can be severe.
In one study of 465 patients with chronic mercury toxicity, 32 percent had severe fatigue, 88 percent had memory loss, and almost 30 percent had depression. The good news that came out of this study is that removal of amalgam dental fillings combined with a mercury detoxification program resulted in significant symptom reduction. (4)
But just doing one thing wouldn’t help George. So we worked hard to get everything in balance— all his 7 basic biologic systems, the 7 keys to an UltraMind. The most important thing we did was to have his dental fillings removed safely and to slowly help him get rid of the mercury.
We helped him detoxify from mercury poisoning with foods such as kale, watercress, and cilantro, herbs such as milk thistle, nutrients such as selenium and zinc,and special medications that help the body remove toxic metals. We treated his vitamin deficiencies with high doses of vitamins B6, B12, and folate.
After a year of aggressive therapy that was matched to his genes and his own quirky biochemical train wrecks—not his diagnosis — he had a remarkable and dramatic recovery. Before I saw George, he could not manage his business, nor did his grandchildren want to be around him. After matching his treatment to his genes, he was again able to function and his grandchildren loved being with him again.
His memory improved, he could read and remember what he read, and run his business affairs. He no longer isolated himself at home, but became an engaged member of his family and community. He could even remember and sing all the songs he used to sing in the shower.
The same miraculous recovery can happen for you — if you follow The UltraMind Solution and support your detoxification system.
Enhancing Your Detoxification System: Get More Glutathione
You see, we actually have a great system for getting rid of toxins — it is based on sulfur chemistry, that sticky, smelly substance. It is what our body uses like fly paper to stick to all the toxic molecules and carry them out of the body.
The molecule it uses is called glutathione and it is the most important detoxifier, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory in the body. Sick people and people with broken brains have less of it. But it is easy to make more of it, so you can get all the toxins out of your body.
Be kind to your brain! Learn how to get your detox system working:
- Avoid toxic foods like trans fats and high fructose corn syrup and toxic drugs like sugar, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine — all the top sellers in supermarkets.
- Eat organic when you can and avoid mercury-containing big fish like tuna and swordfish.
- Eat detoxifying foods like kale, watercress, artichokes, pomegranates, and cilantro.
- Use detoxifying herbs such as milk thistle and nutrients such as selenium and zinc, all of which boost detoxification and glutathione.
- Take special detox supplements like NAC, which is a form of sulfur your body uses to make glutathione.
- Learn how to get rid of heavy metals from your body.
You can learn more about how to support your detoxification system and how to reduce your toxic exposure and “live clean and green” in my book, The UltraMind Solution. You can also read about one of my patients, Joanne, who woke up from lifelong depression by detoxifying her body.
Remember, get your free sneak preview of The UltraMind Solution.
In my next blog I will teach you about how to boost your energy. You will learn why conserving and making energy is so important to your brain and how toxins, bugs, poor nutrition, hormonal imbalance, and inflammation ultimately lead to cell destruction and death by a common mechanism … one that literally depletes us of our life energy.
Now I’d like to hear from you …
Have you noticed a link between the toxins you’re exposed to and your brain health?
Which toxins are you most exposed to?
What steps do you plan to take to detoxify your body?
Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below — but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD
(1) Schober SE, Sinks TH, Jones RL, Bolger PM, McDowell M, Osterloh J, Garrett ES, Canady RA, Dillon CF, Sun Y, Joseph CB, Mahaffey KR. Blood mercury levels in US children and women of childbearing age, 1999-2000.JAMA. 2003 Apr 2;289(13):1667-74
(2) Alavanja MC, Hoppin JA, Kamel F. Health effects of chronic pesticide exposure: cancer and neurotoxicity. Annu Rev Public Health. 2004;25:155-97. Review.
(3) McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, Crumpler D, Dalen L, Grimshaw K, Kitchin E, Lok K, Porteous L, Prince E, Sonuga-Barke E, Warner JO, Stevenson J. Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.
(4) Wojcik DP, Godfrey ME, Christie D, Haley BE. Mercury toxicity presenting as chronic fatigue, memory impairment and depression: diagnosis, treatment, susceptibility, and outcomes in a New Zealand general practice setting (1994-2006). Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006 Aug;27(4):415-23