Posted: Tue, July 16, 2013 | By: Brain Health
by Hank Pellissier
Eating Wheaties for breakfast? Keeping Fluffy’s litter box clean? Gulping down cholesterol-lowering medication? If you think these activities are healthy, sorry… reports suggest all these habits contain the potential to poison your brain. In an earlier essay I listed “83 ways to stupefy the brain.” Unfortunately, four additional toxicities need to be added. If you’re serious about performing at peak cognitive proficiency, read the evidence below, and adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
Wheat - A 2011 study of 290 Japanese schoolchildren revealed that those who ate wheat everyday had IQs that were, on average, 4.0 points lower than non-wheat eaters (i.e., rice eaters). Why? Nutritionists believe a neurotoxin in the “staff of life” - wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) - is to blame. WGA passes through the blood-brain barrier and attaches itself to the myelin sheath, the protective coating on the neurons; it’s presence there injures the growth, health, and survival of brain cells. WGA is highest in whole wheat, especially sprouted whole wheat, and it also lurks in barley and rye. Nutritionists note that all grains contain “natural food toxins” to protect themselves from being eaten by mammals, with the average person eating about 1.5 grams daily of plant poisons. The safest grain is white rice; it’s toxic substances are largely annihilated by cooking. Japanese children who ate white rice and avoided wheat had “significantly larger grey matter volumes in several regions, including left superior temporal gyrus” and their perceptual organizational index (POI) was markedly higher.
Sugar - Studies have linked high blood sugar levels in the elderly to damage in the hippocampus - a brain region responsible for memory and learning. One report in December 2008 Annals of Neurology examined 240 people with an average age of 80 - researchers concluded that elevated blood glucose levels was damaging the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus. Another study - in Vol. 10, #4 of Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, of 1,983 women, average age 80 - indicated that every 1% increase in glycosylated hemoglobin correlated with a risk increase of 40%. A Nature report (02/01/2012) added import to the above findings when a UCSF team led by Robert Lustig team defined sugar as “toxic” and “addictive” with dangerous similarities to alcohol and tobacco.
Cat Feces - Toxoplasmosis gondii is a microscopic parasite that frequently harbors in the gastrointestinal tract of cats. Transmission to humans - via feces in kitty litter boxes, soiled garden areas and children’s sandpits, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and undercooked meat - can created toxoplasmosis in humans; an estimated 2-3 billion people worldwide are infected by this protozoa that dwells in muscle and nerve tissue. High rates exist in numerous areas, including rural France (46% of the population), Brazil, and impoverished urban areas of Africa, the Middle East, and SE Asia, especially New Guinea. The least-infected region is South Korea, with a mere 6.7%. Two professional tennis players have been infected by toxoplasmosis: Arthur Ashe and Martina Navratilova. Toxoplasmosis is generally harmless in adults with healthy immune systems, but in immuno-compromised humans (such as pregnant women and victims of AIDS/HIV) the impact is enormous. Neurologically, it has been linked to encephalitis, brain cancer, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. For more information on this global threat, read HERE.
Cholesterol-lowering Stains - Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor and other cholesterol-lowering statins are credited with saving the lives of millions of people with heart disease, and they’re one of the most widely-prescribed medications in the world, with an estimated 25 million prescriptions earning $11.8 billion in 2010. But the side effects can be neurologically onerous. Here’s why - 25% of the body’s cholesterol is in the brain, where it insulates neurons in “myelin sheaths” to create strong neural connections, an essential step in concretizing memory and learning. Cholesterol is also crucial in the formation of synapses. A study published in 2003 Reviews of Therapeutics noted that more than 50% of statin users with memory problems announced that their symptoms were alleviated when they discontinued the medication. MedWatch - the FDA’s database for filing drug side effects - is filled with hundreds of reports of statin-blamed memory loss. Not everyone’s cognition is affected, though; some researchers believe there might be a genetic profile at risk. For more information, click HERE.