As you get older, the brain becomes vulnerable to imbalances in neurochemicals. Aging is the number one cause of MCI. Deciding not to do anything about the aging brain and chemical imbalances leaves your brain vulnerable to degeneration and dementia.
There are many other reasons for brain dementia, some are dependent on, while others are independent of brain neurochemical imbalances that occur with illness or aging. Many are related to poor lifestyle choices.
Any addiction, street drugs, alcohol, overeating, gambling or shopping are related to imbalances in dopamine. Street drugs such as cocaine, meth, marijuana, heroin, ketamine, opium, etc. cloud judgment, impair memory, limit attention and increase forgetfulness.
Certain common prescription medicines that affect thinking include drugs that treat allergies, pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, ulcers, depression, and insomnia. Tranquilizers, sedatives and sleeping pills slow down the brain and the central nervous system. They impair your ability to concentrate. These include:
- Alcohol-containing medications
- Antidiarrheal medications
- Anti-nausea medications
- Antiseizure medications
- Anxiety medications
- Blood pressure medications
- Blood sugar medications
- Caffeine-containing medications
- Pain medications
- Parkinson’s disease medications
- Sleep medications
- Ulcer medications
Over-the -Counter Medications
Most notably, decongestants can cause drowsiness, dizziness and anxiety. It would be prudent to be informed regarding the medications intended and unintended side effects. Combining prescription and over-the-counter medications can also cause cognitive problems. Check with your pharmacist or your prescribing health care provider.
Parasites, Viral and Bacterial Infections
Parasites and microbes often excrete toxins to increase their survivability, by changing blood acidity, creating a perfect host environment. These toxins can cross the blood-brain barrier, creating inflammation in the brain, resulting in changes in comprehension and creating brain fog. These infections can be acute, recurrent or chronic infections, such as HIV, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Lyme disease, tuberculosis and cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Recurrent head trauma, whiplash, concussions, sports injuries can have a cumulative effect, each event building on the previous one, directly affecting short term and long -term cognition and memory. Even minor traumas can impact early onset dementia. This is being seen with the studies being done on NFL football players who have various degrees of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Brain trauma adds up. Chronic brain trauma can manifest itself as:
- Amnesia, short and long term
- Behavior changes
- Feeling one is in a cloud or fog
- Mood disorders, depression
- Unstable emotions
- Sleep disturbances
- Slow reactions to stimulus
Cadmium, arsenic, mercury, aluminum can affect brain speed, memory, IQ and alter personality. The brains of those who have died with Alzheimer’s disease have been found to have higher than normal mercury levels, primary exposure was most probably dental fillings.
Disease of the body also affects brain function. These diseases of aging include multiple sclerosis, ALS, glaucoma, vascular diseases, stroke, blood sugar and hormonal imbalances, which can affect one’s ability to think clearly.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Most common deficiencies are thiamin (B1), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), vitamin B12, nicotinic acid and zinc. Low levels of these and other antioxidants and nutrients can contribute to poor judgment and memory loss. Alcohol consumption can deplete the body of crucial vitamins.
It is important to make healthy lifestyle choices and eating a clean, plant- based diet and using food supplements as they are needed.
There is good news.
Through blood tests and neuroimaging such as PET scans and MRIs, one can determine toxic load and assess microvascular and ischemic brain changes. Take charge of your health! Live clean, eat clean and enjoy happiness and healthy brain function and minimize the effects of aging with a plant-based lifestyle!
Adapted from Younger Brain, Sharper Mind