Gluten Free: Should You do It?

gluten free

I thought I would share this article by Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy, author of the Newport Natural Health Letter. This describes how I felt for years, until I found out that I am allergic to wheat. I have now been eating gluten free for over ten years.

The wheat we eat today is a far cry from the grain older generations grew up with — and there are serious questions about how healthy it is. If you’re suffering from gastrointestinal problems or have symptoms that are going undiagnosed, avoiding wheat for one month might solve those problems.

One of the most common statements I hear from new patients goes something like this: “I don’t feel good, but my doctor says there’s nothing wrong with me.” In fact, this is such a frequent issue that I decided to do a newsletter about it. Generally, in these cases, a patient tells their doctor that he or she just isn’t feeling well. Specific symptoms might include digestive disorders, low energy, weight gain, moodiness, joint pain or general achiness, memory problems, brain fog, and/or other nagging health issues that just won’t go away. The doctor does a blood panel, and maybe a few additional tests, and then reports that the results are all normal. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with you.

Under different circumstances, that would be excellent news. But when you still don’t feel right, it’s not much consolation to know that “there’s nothing wrong.” Clearly, something’s off, but for whatever reason, the doctor has no interest in solving the problem. I’ve had many patients come to me after seeing multiple doctors, and being told time and time again, “Nothing’s wrong.” That’s when I start thinking outside the diagnostic box.

Food allergies or sensitivities are among the most common sources of health problems. But there’s one food in particular that is turning out to be the source of multiple ailments: wheat. Until recently, whole grains had been considered some of the healthiest foods around. However, decades of tinkering with wheat to make it more productive and profitable have turned the grain into something of a Frankenstein’s monster with questionable health benefits.

In fact, today’s wheat even looks different than the classic grain, and it no longer contains the same beneficial nutrients. Even worse, wheat — like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup — is used in some form or other in products where you would least expect it. Wheat turns up in everything from frozen french fries to pet foods to skin lotions — and it uses a variety of names, including hydrolyzed wheat protein or wheat starch.

Unfortunately, there’s one additional concern with wheat: contamination by GMO (genetically modified organism) wheat that “escaped” from experimental fields. This fact, acknowledged by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), has already led Japan to cancel its contract for wheat with American farmers. Many other countries have also banned GMO foods, so they could follow Japan’s lead. I’ll be writing more about why it’s so important to avoid GMO foods, but for now, I’ll just say that this is one more reason to avoid wheat.

For individuals with celiac disease, eating wheat can have very serious consequences, including digestive problems, joint pain, malnutrition, skin conditions, fatigue, and developmental issues in children. In an earlier newsletter, I wrote about celiac disease, an under-diagnosed condition believed to affect as many as 1 in every 133 Americans. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are unaware they even have celiac disease, so they continue to suffer with misdiagnosis and treatments that do nothing to improve their health.

Celiac disease is not the end of the story when it comes to wheat. Certain individuals who do not have celiac disease still have a hard time processing wheat. As a result, I’m seeing an increasing number of patients with ailments that disappear when they stop eating wheat. These aren’t just brief bouts of indigestion. I’m talking about arthritis, asthma, and a long list of skin problems. These people have wheat allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, is believed to be behind many of these wheat-related health issues.

An individual who is sensitive to or intolerant of gluten might experience mood swings, depression, difficulty concentrating, or changes in behavior after eating food containing the protein. Experts estimate that as many as 20 million Americans who do not have celiac disease are sensitive to gluten.

In addition, a separate disorder — wheat allergy — can cause everything from skin rashes to asthma. Wheat allergy is thought to be far less common than celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but it can lead to life-threatening consequences, including anaphylactic shock.

When a person with celiac disease eats wheat, the lining of the small intestine over-reacts and shuts down. Unable to absorb nutrients from food, sufferers of the disease might experience malnutrition, along with numerous other symptoms. For doctors who aren’t familiar with this condition, the symptoms are often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or indigestion.

Treating those conditions doesn’t help, however, so the nagging health problems continue, even though a simple celiac disease blood test, followed by a biopsy for confirmation, is all it takes to identify celiac disease. However, the condition is not on the radar of many physicians, so it’s not at all unusual for patients to struggle with health issues for years before finding out what’s wrong with them.

Let’s say your blood test shows that you do not have celiac disease or a wheat allergy, but you still don’t feel quite right. There’s much more you can do on your own to determine if wheat is a problem. You may want to start with a test for gluten sensitivity, which you can obtain online from EnteroLab. Or you can simply start with the same thing I tell my patients — a gluten-free challenge diet. Here are the four essential steps you need to follow:

Let’s say your blood test shows that you do not have celiac disease, but you still don’t feel quite right. There’s much more you can do on your own to determine if wheat is a problem. I recommend starting with the same thing I tell my patients — a gluten-free challenge diet. Here are the four essential steps you need to follow:

Step One

Clear your cupboards and refrigerator of products containing gluten — commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley. To determine if you are sensitive to gluten, you need to completely eliminate it from your diet for a minimum of 30 days. This is no time for half measures. You must give your body time to heal. If you give up bread made with wheat, for example, but continue to eat ordinary pasta, crackers, cereal, etc. (as opposed to gluten-free), your results will be skewed. In other words, you must commit to going totally gluten-free for 30 days. So get ready for some label reading, and remember — even the smallest amount of gluten is unacceptable for the next month.

Step Two

Replace gluten-based foods with gluten-free versions. These days, that’s fairly easy. Food manufacturers are very aware of gluten and wheat health issues, so there are gluten-free breads (check the frozen foods aisles), pasta, cereal, and much more.

If you bake, you can make your own gluten-free cookies and breads by substituting any of the gluten-free flour blends on the market today. I encourage my patients to focus on foods like vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and brown rice or other grains that are naturally gluten-free. If you are going out to eat, ask your server about dishes that do not contain gluten — and stay away from the breadbasket. Remember, you aren’t giving up bread, cupcakes, and doughnuts forever — it’s only for 30 days!

Step Three

During your 30 days without gluten, I urge you to keep a diary documenting how you feel. Are your symptoms the same or are they improving? How about your energy levels — the same or better? Weight loss or gain? At the end of the month, this summary can be helpful for sorting out your condition.

Step Four

At the end of four weeks, reintroduce one form of gluten to your diet. Don’t go overboard. Have just one slice of whole wheat bread, for example, and then wait four days before consuming any additional gluten. Use your diary to write about your body’s reaction. Did any symptoms that had disappeared return? If so, you might want to continue avoiding gluten. If not, try one portion of another food containing gluten, like pasta. Again, wait four days and record the reactions.

This pattern of eating a possible problem food every four days is known as “the rotation diet”, and it has been shown to be very useful for identifying food sensitivities.

So, again, if at the end of the 30 days you find that a slice of wheat bread or a bowl of pasta causes some digestive problems, joint pains, memory issues, or another complication, you would probably be better off avoiding gluten entirely. Some patients with gluten sensitivities find that they can eat gluten occasionally, but not every day. That’s fine, if it works for you.

If you’ve been to more doctors than you can count or if your physician keeps insisting there’s nothing wrong with you — and you know there is! — try eliminating gluten from your life for a month and see how you feel. I’ve seen patients go from weary and depressed to Energizer Bunny in a matter of weeks, just from giving up gluten. That doesn’t sound like such a bad trade-off, does it?

My Gluten Free Conclusions

If  these symptoms sound familiar, give the gluten-free diet a try. I can attest to the fact that it gets easier as you go along and is well worth the effort.  

Keep me posted on your progress, you are not alone!

photo credit

Pandemic Takeaways, There are a Few

pandemic takeaway, mud lake

Believe it or not, there are a few pandemic takeaways to learn from.

Humans are Meant to Socialize

Mankind is meant to be sociable. Many experts believe social interaction is important for mental health, starting at a very early age. Just how sociable you (or your children) are is up to you of course, usually. Not so when forced to practice social distancing, isolation, or quarantine.

We were able to keep in touch with each other during the height of the pandemic through social media. Used exclusively to communicate though, social media can have a dark side. I saw lots of kind, considerate and compassionate stuff posted, but sadly lots of negativity and ugliness too.

The pandemic takeaway here is that we should strive to be kind instead of mean or judgmental. Looking after each other is especially crucial during hard times.

Staying Home When Sick

In a perfect world, everyone would stay home when they are sick, and keep their sick kids home too. However, with economies tanking and inflation rates increasing, more and more families rely on two salaries to survive. To compensate, employers would have to step up and agree to pay their employees to stay home when they or their kids are sick.

Working From Home

Working from home started out as non-negotiable for many early on during the pandemic. Almost two years in, working from home has gained momentum in both popularity and convenience. I know several people that are thriving while working from home, others not so much.

For some, the convenience and flexibility outweigh the lack of personal interaction with co-workers. For others though, social isolation is painful.

The pandemic takeaway? If the work from home option is still available, do whatever works best for you and your family.

Personal Hygiene

Like we learned way back in kindergarten, we need to wash our hands frequently. While hand sanitizer was worshipped early on in the pandemic, we know now that simple soap and water hand washing is sufficient to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.

If you didn’t before, one of the most crucial pandemic takeaways is that you should wash your hands after:

  • blowing your own nose or wiping a child’s nose
  • sneezing into a tissue
  • changing a diaper
  • returning home from a public place (stores, gas stations, restaurants etc)

Maintaining a Healthy Immune System

This pandemic takeaway is how important our immune systems are in the fight against disease, including the lingering Covid virus. Stress-free living, fresh air, sunshine, healthy eating, and frequent exercise top of the list of ways to keep our immune systems functioning well.

fresh air, pandemic takeaways

Discover Local Outdoor Activities

Early on in the pandemic, I found myself researching outdoor places to take my grandchildren to. I discovered that Ottawa has an amazingly large number of options. As the nation’s capital, we are fortunate to have the NCC (National Capital Commission) maintaining many parks and trails, both in winter and summer.

Mud Lake was a favourite place for my grandson and me to visit during the summer. Although we visited Shirley’s Bay in the summer too, we have since discovered the ice fishing opportunity there this winter.

pandemic takeaways, fresh air and sunshine
“ice fishing is more fun than sun fishing”

Me, a Hair Stylist?

It has been almost two years now since my husband or I have been to a hair stylist to get our hair cut. I have been cutting (some might say hacking at) both of our hair. Hubby’s hair is pin straight, so very unforgiving, and he is much more particular than I am. As a result, his takes much longer to cut. Mine is slightly wavy; much easier to hide the mistakes. The cuts may not look professional, but who cares? I don’t.

I have also given up colouring my hair. I actually made that decision prior to the pandemic onset, with no regrets. The white colour may make me look older but I love the freedom. Not to mention the lack of white roots that would crop up a mere one week after colouring my hair.

pandemic takeaways

Summary of Pandemic Takeaways

Many of these are my personal takes. Hopefully, you have some pandemic takeaways of your own. Learn from and maintain the positive ones; move on from or fix the negative ones.

Dehydration: Low Energy and Brain Fog are Signs

dehydration

Many common symptoms such as lethargy, low energy levels, brain fog, muscle weakness, and light-headedness are from dehydration. Also included in the list are muscle cramps, nausea, and even increased breathing and heart rate.

What is dehydration?

A whopping 75% of our body consists of water. It is present in our cells, between our cells in body tissue, and in our blood vessels.  When this percentage drops, caused by more water leaving the body than coming in, we suffer the consequences.  By the time we actually feel thirsty, we are dehydrated.

Water loss happens routinely when we sweat during exercise and when we have a fever. It also occurs when our bodies eliminate waste (urine and bowel movements), and even when we breathe.

How can we prevent dehydration?

To replace this routine water loss from our bodies, we should drink six to eight glasses of water daily.  Fruit and vegetables contain lots of water, so increasing your daily intake of these items will help as well.   Also be aware that alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated drinks are dehydrators. Adding a glass of water to your daily requirements for each serving of these items you consume.  You can include herbal tea in your daily requirement of water, it is actually hydrating.

Water Options

Drinking water does not have to be inconvenient or expensive. In fact, up to 25% of bottled water comes from municipal sources, not from glaciers or springs as advertised.  Simply turn on your tap, fill up a water bottle, and take it with you. This works at your desk working, running errands in your busy life, or relaxing at home.  Add a splash of unsweetened fruit juice, or fresh lemon or lime slices to water to spice up the flavor.

Bottoms up!

dehydration
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

photo credit

Wordle: Exercise Your Brain

Wordle

Have you heard of Wordle? It’s the newest craze, a brain exercising word game played on your phone, tablet or computer. It’s not an app, but a website accessed online.

Wordle Explained

It’s quite simple. You have six tries to guess a valid five lettered word. Apparently if you try a word that does not exist you will be told so. The words are randomly selected by the site, one a day. At midnight a new one is generated, automatically. Everyone playing gets the same word each day.

On your screen, with each attempt, tiles with correct letters in the correct spot will be green. Tiles with letters in the word but in the wrong spot will be yellow. Tiles of letters not in the word at all will be gray. The coloured tiles indicate which letters have been used and which ones are still available to use.

For example, this was my first attempt. I started with the word CRANK, the C is in the word but not the first letter. The R and K were in the word and in the correct spots. Based on that, my second guess was TRUCK. Now the R, C and K were correct and in the right spots, the first and third letters were not yet chosen. My third guess was PRICK. The all green tiles shows this was correct!

Wordle

It reminds me of Lingo, a very similar game on the TV game show channel I used to play with my eldest son.

Play on Your Phone, Tablet or Computer

To access Wordle online follow these simple steps:

On your phone:

  • Type in powerlanguage.co.uk in Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge browser
  • tap on the menu button. That’s the 3 vertical dots at the top or bottom of your screen.
  • choose “add to home screen”
  • tap “add” to finish the process

On your computer:

use this link

Work Your Brain

These kind of word games are purportedly good for the brain. Research has shown that in brains over fifty years of age, word games like Wordle and crosswords or number games like Sudoku improve memory, problem solving, and focus.

As I warned you previously, if you don’t use it you lose it!

Warning About Wordle

If you haven’t already, you should soon start to notice lots of these Wordle blocks on the various forms of social media. That’s because when you get the answer right, you can show off how smart you are by “sharing” your results.

Wordle can be addictive! It’s just as well you only get one per day.

AIP for Chronic Inflammation

autoimmune protocol

While researching nightshade vegetables and their effect on people with sensitivities to them, I came across something called an AIP. This stands for an autoimmune protocol, something I had never heard of. However, through the years I know I have inflammatory issues and suspect they may be related to underlying autoimmune factors.

What is the AIP?

To clarify, the AIP or autoimmune protocol is a diet somewhat related to the Paleo diet, but slightly more restrictive. Nicknamed the hunter and gatherer diet, Paleo supports a back-to-the-basics approach. In addition to foods restricted in the Paleo, AIP also eliminates nightshade vegetables as well as other inflammation-triggering foods like eggs, seeds, nuts, and most sweeteners.

What’s left to eat on the AIP? In short, foods that fight inflammation such as leafy greens, fruit, lean meat, healthy fats, and cruciferous vegetables are all permitted.

To sum things up, this chart shows what is allowed or not, and how to swap the bad for the good. It comes from AmyMeyersMD.com:

AIP for chronic inflammation

Chronic Inflammatory Conditions that the AIP can Alleviate

Many things cause chronic inflammation. Exposure to chemicals, foods we consume, and autoimmune disorders are all culprits. Research shows that autoimmune conditions and inflammatory diseases are often connected. Both of these can be genetic, but it is the ability to be allergic that is genetic, not the specific allergy. Healthline lists some well known autoimmune conditions and symptoms:

  • joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis
  • gout
  • irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease
  • chronic fatigue, trouble concentrating, brain fog
  • skin rashes and conditions like eczema, scleroderma, psoriasis,
  • phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis, vasculitis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • type 1 diabetes
  • hair loss
  • low grade fever, achy muscles
  • numbness and/or tingling in the hands or feet

Long Term Goals

Treatment of many of these conditions and symptoms may require medication to reduce inflammation. Furthermore, exercise more, quit smoking, eliminate stress, and change diets. These actions can alleviate autoimmune and inflammatory symptoms over the long term.

Most importantly, the autoimmune protocol is never a quick fix. It may take several months for chronic inflammatory and autoimmune symptoms to subside.

Do your own research. Find reputable sites online or do your research the old-fashioned way by reading a book. Here are a few selections from Amazon on the topic:

Nightshade Vegetables: Should You Eat Them?

Nightshade vegetables

Nightshade vegetables are wonderful, versatile, and delicious if you are not sensitive to them. Unfortunately, many times people don’t realize a sensitivity to them until they are investigating unpleasant inflammatory or gastrointestinal symptoms.

What are Nightshade Vegetables?

Tomatoes (and tomatillos), okra, eggplant, peppers, goji berries, and white potatoes are all members of the nightshade family. Also included in the group are spices such as red pepper flakes, chili pepper, cayenne, and paprika.  Too bad, as all of these contain antioxidants, vitamins (C and B), and minerals. Not to mention they are tasty.

nightshade vegetables

Why are Nightshade Vegetables Getting a Bad Name?

Unfortunately, even though these vegetables are normally considered very healthy, they can cause more trouble than they are worth for many people. That’s because they also contain nutrients called alkaloids. The alkaloids in turn contain a nitrogen called solanine. While nitrogen is great for fertilizing plants, it is not so easily processed or agreeable in our digestive systems.

Research is now showing that nitrogen consumption can aggravate chronic digestive issues such as leaky gut, irritable bowel, and Celiac disease as well as arthritis and joint pain. Nightshade vegetables create an inflammatory response in many people, especially those afflicted with autoimmune disorders.

Allergies in any form can range from mild to deadly. All reactions, even mild ones, should be acknowledged, investigated, and prevented. Recognized currently are serious allergic reactions to nightshades ranging from hives and itchiness to swelling and difficulty breathing.

Confirm a Sensitivity to Nightshades with an Elimination Diet

Unfortunately, an elimination diet does not provide a quick diagnosis. When you complain of inflammatory or digestive episodes your physician may suggest you avoid nightshade vegetables. Or, you can make the decision yourself as you know your body better than anyone else. Either way, an elimination diet may provide some clarity.

Start by eliminating all of the vegetables and spices listed above for a minimum of one month. Then re-introduce them, one at a time, into your diet. Monitor your symptoms as you re-introduce things. You may react to one and not another from the group. Raw versus cooked versions may create different reactions too. It may be beneficial to keep a journal to record day to day changes and reactions.

Living with the Results

How severely you have to restrict nightshade vegetables from your diet will depend on your findings in your elimination diet as well as the severity of your symptoms when reintroducing them.

You make the call!

Body Cleanses, How They Work

ingredients of body cleanses

Body cleanses are currently popular methods to detoxify the body to feel better, look better and possibly even lose weight.  Not just for cosmetic purposes, cleansing is important.

Why Cleanse?

Toxins or contaminants enter the body through the skin, drinking tap water, eating processed foods and even just from breathing air from the environment. After entering the body, harmful microscopic organisms such as viruses, bacteria, parasitic worms, and yeasts live within the digestive tract, feeding off nutrients there. That’s when diseases develop.

Skin conditions such as eczema and many other health issues can result from the buildup of these toxins and contaminants capable of invading the body. To learn how to cleanse your body, ridding it of these harmful toxins, read on.

Can the Body Cleanse Itself?

The body removes toxins on its own, somewhat. The role of the liver is to recognize, and breakdown toxic compounds, removing them from the body through waste.  The liver can get overwhelmed though when overloaded with toxins. When this happens the natural detoxification process slows down or stops altogether.

The colon and kidneys also play important roles in the detoxification process of removing toxins and contaminants from the body. The colon expels the toxins from the digestive system removing them within bowel movements while the kidneys remove toxins from the blood system through the urinary system.

Natural Body Cleanses

Natural methods can be used to reduce the number of toxins the liver is exposed to. Eliminating processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine from the diet are all examples of these methods.  Instead, the diet should consist of a predominance of natural, organic produce and ingredients.

Heavy exercise can also help rid the body of toxins through sweat.

Natural herbal remedies can be helpful as a body detox as well.   Dandelion, turmeric and ginger root teas as well as organic apples, cranberries, grapes, garlic, sprouts, cucumbers and onions all help to detoxify the kidneys.  Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice added to water is effective as a colon cleanse and liver cleanse.

Many of these natural cleansers are ingredients in my morning smoothies:

ingredients for body cleanses

Commercial Body Cleanses

Commercial detoxification products remove the buildup of harmful toxins stored in the body for many years. Cleansing the liver, kidneys, and colon will help restore their natural detoxification effectiveness.

Made of natural ingredients, Commercial cleanses should not cause any adverse effects. Be sure to follow instructions closely.

body cleanses

Lose Weight and Inches in Simple Steps

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale

While it is not easy to lose weight, there are several simple steps to make it less complicated. The trick is sticking to your plan. Once you see results it gets easier to keep going.

Control Fat Storage to Lose Weight

Fat storage is directly linked to two hormones; insulin and cortisol.  Insulin is controlled by the food you eat, and cortisol is controlled by the amount of stress in your life. Increases in either or both of these hormones cause your body to store fat. Unfortunately, poor food choices and stress often occur together, and like the chicken and the egg story, which one comes first is debatable….

Eating the wrong carbohydrates  (sugar, bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, processed snacks, etc) causes increases in insulin in your body.  Eating good carbohydrates (quinoa, fruit, vegetables, bread with sprouted grains) controls your blood sugar and insulin levels.

To help keep your insulin level in check and keep your body in a fat-burning zone, follow these simple steps:

Read food labels

Avoid processed and packaged foods like cereals, muffins, chips, crackers, genetically modified corn, soy and wheat, hydrogenated oils, canola oil, corn syrup, margarine, sugar, and artificial sweeteners.

These products not only increase your blood sugar and insulin levels, but they are also treated as foreign toxins in your body, causing inflammation in many organs.  Avoiding these products will not only make you lose weight, but other health issues such as eczema, asthma, arthritis, will improve too.

Stick to the outer aisles in grocery stores

The outside aisles or perimeter of the stores contain the fresh produce, meat, dairy etc, while the inner aisles typically hold the bad stuff.

Clean out your kitchen pantry

Get rid of any of the above items.

Reduce Stress to Lose Weight

To control cortisol levels, try to reduce the stresses in your life by following these steps:

Get enough sleep

 Sleep deprivation stresses your body.  If you cannot get enough at night, try to sneak in a nap during the day, since even a short 30-minute nap is beneficial for you.

Get some, but not too much exercise

An exercise regime that is too strenuous will temporarily stress your body, causing a spike in your cortisol level.  Your exercise regime does not have to be complicated or expensive.  Go for a brisk walk every day, or at least every second day.

Surround yourself with positive people.  

Negative people are stressors you do not need.

Spend more time doing the things you like to do.

Take up a new hobby or rediscover an old one.

Other Points to Remember

Good fats burn body fat

Avoid margarine, canola, and hydrogenated oils.  Instead choose eggs, olive oil, avocado, almonds, coconut oil, and cold-water fish.

Stay hydrated  

Dehydration is your enemy! Drink lots of water.  Carry a water bottle around with you while running errands, chauffeuring your kids, and especially while exercising.   Add a splash of lemon juice to your water to liven up the taste.

photo credit

Boost Your Brain: 5 Vitamins that Aid Memory

Boost Your Brain

This article is a guest post from iveeapp.com. I’ve added my two cents throughout:

The benefits of vitamin supplements are incredibly far-reaching. They can help aid bodily functions such as digestion, metabolism, and immuno-response. Researchers continue to support the belief that vitamin supplements play a large role in longevity. When combined with a proper diet, adequate sleep patterns, and daily exercise, a noticeable impact on life quality can also be achieved with vitamin supplements.

So what about memory? Can these tablets really boost cognitive function? Well, yes and no. One of the most common symptoms of aging is memory loss. As of 2020, roughly an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s dementia. If scientists were able to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s with the use of vitamin supplements, over 200 thousand fewer seniors would be diagnosed per year. So, in that respect, vitamin supplements act as a preventive measure.

Five supplements that boost memory

1. B-12

Researchers have studied the correlation between B-12 and B complex vitamins and cognitive function for a long while. They have found that having a B-12 deficiency could lead to troubles with memory in the future. According to the Mayo Clinic, having an adequate amount of B-12 can lead to improved memory. Still, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that higher intake leads to more benefits. However, there is evidence that regular B-12 consumption can slow the cognitive decline of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when combined with omega-3 fatty acids. 

B-12 deficiency is most common in those with bowel or stomach issues, strict vegans, and diabetics. Getting enough B-12 should come naturally. Certain foods such as fish and poultry contain high levels of the vitamin B-12. Dairy products and certain vegetables such as mushrooms also offer high levels of B-12. 

If you do not eat foods rich in B12, you can supplement your diet with vitamin B12 in a jar! and get the same benefits.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another supplement that has shown to slow cognitive decline. Like vitamin B-12, this vitamin has proven to be more effective in older people since they are more at risk for memory loss. According to a 2014 study done by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMMA), “Among patients with mild to moderate [Alzheimer’s], 2000 IU/d of alpha-tocopherol [the vitamin E supplement] compared with placebo resulted in slower functional decline.” 

Vitamin E deficiency is rare, but it does occur. It is most apparent in those whose diets lack fat. Good sources of vitamin E include foods such as:

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • dark-colored fruits, such as blueberries, avocados, and blackberries
  • vegetables, such as spinach and bell peppers

Whether you get your daily dose of vitamin E from your diet or a jar of supplements, make sure you do!

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for efficient brain function as well as keeping our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. We obtain Vitamin D mainly through the sun’s rays. The vitamin isn’t found in many foods, but it is abundant in certain fatty-fish such as trout, salmon, and tuna. Vitamin D supplements are great for everyone, but especially for those who spend a lot of their time working from inside. Being deficient in vitamin D can have negative effects such as raised anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue. 

If you cannot get outside to obtain your daily dose of vitamin D, supplements are available.

4. Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are extracted directly from fatty fish like sardines and salmon. Fish oil can play a vital role in optimizing brain function. That’s because fish oil contains the same fatty acids found in the cell membranes of human brain cells. Preserving healthy brain cell membranes can have a massive impact on how our brain develops as we age. Not only is fish oil excellent for the mind but it is also great for muscle recovery as it decreases muscular pain and shortens recovery time after a workout.

Fish oil containing important omega 3 fatty acids is also available in supplement form if fish will never make it into your diet.

5. NAD+ Treatment

Yes, we know that NAD+ is not a vitamin, but its potential to optimize brain function is worth noting. NAD+ is a compound that is produced naturally in the body but as we age, our NAD+ levels decrease. The rate at which our NAD+ levels decrease is directly related to increasing biological age. So as we age, we lose NAD+ and we lose energy, our skin ages, and we experience some form of memory loss or mental fatigue. NAD+ supplements are available at certain vitamin shops, but one of the most effective methods is NAD+ treatment through an IV.

If IVs are not your thing, NAD+ is also available in supplement form. You have no excuse to avoid it!

Conclusion

Though these nutrients are not the “end all and be all” for cognitive decline, having a consistent intake of the vitamin could slow symptoms, especially for seniors and those already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other mental diseases. The easiest way we can prevent the onset of these illnesses is to take care of our bodies. Good sleep patterns, a good diet including vitamins, and daily exercise are things we can do daily to increase the quality of life and longevity. 

If you are not keen on introducing supplements to your diet, try incorporating foods that contain the specific vitamins instead. That is my preferred way to achieve a healthy diet. I do so by concocting a variety of smoothies that contain healthy, fresh vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables. Make the choice based on your lifestyle, but be sure to incorporate the vitamins into your diet.

Use it or Lose it!

If you don't use it, you lose it

As I get older, the phrase “use it or lose it” is becoming more obvious. Not just the rusty physical parts of my body, but the mental parts like good habits, routines, and comfort zones too.

Highway Driving

I’ve never been anxious driving on the highways, in fact I much prefer it to city driving where you have pedestrians, bikes, and cars coming at you in all directions. When I moved to Ottawa from the much smaller town of Cornwall, I forced myself to drive up and down the Queensway (the major highway running east to west through the city) getting off each exit, then back on.

It feels like I hardly ever drive on the highways anymore, in fact, I’ve cut down considerably for almost two years now, since the pandemic shut us down in early 2020.

When I do drive on the highway these days, the first few minutes feel strange. And then the comfort and enjoyment return, the feel of the open road beneath me. The winding roads and the relaxing rural scenery are a bonus, although I haven’t seen much of them recently.

Organized Routines

When I worked outside of the home, especially when my kids were young, I was incredibly organized. At least when I look back to those days now, I think I was. Beds were stripped every Friday for a weekly wash. Grocery lists were mandatory, in preparation for weekly shopping every Thursday. Once the boys were out of diapers, bath nights were Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays.

I learned that kids thrive on routine, but so do busy moms.

When I retired, and the kids were much older, routines flew out the window with the alarm clock. That might not be considered a bad thing.

Brain Power

How many of you reach for a calculator or your phone to figure out a mathematical equation, even the simple ones? I admit to forcing myself to use my brain power with a pen and paper to ensure I remember how to. It is so much quicker and more convenient to use the electronics so use it or lose it! Your brain power I mean.

One of the reasons I loved helping my granddaughter with her online lessons is that it forced me to think like a seven-year-old again. At that age, kids’ brains are like sponges, absorbing every tidbit of information they encounter. I like that feeling, and I really enjoy finding the right way to answer their never-ending questions. Do you remember how some teachers were so much better than others at explaining things?

Arthritic Joints

When I refer to my rusty body parts, I am talking about my achy, arthritic joints. My ankles, knees, hips and wrists are anxiously awaiting warmer, drier weather.

The problem with arthritic joints is that the less you use them, the harder it is to use them when you want or need to. It is indeed a vicious circle, but the trick (I find) is to make sure you keep using them.

Conclusion

Use it before you lose it!!

photo credit