As I sat in my doctor’s office late last year, I gave the best description for my visit I could as I explained: “I’m 56 years old, but lately I feel like I’m 100. Especially my brain — it feels like it’s made of Swiss cheese. I’m exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally.”
My doctor — being an Integrative Medicine doc, he’s also written up as one of North America’s Top Doctors and is the one who helped me recover my adrenal glands over 8 years ago — immediately recommended we re-check my hormone levels by way of a saliva hormone test.
I suspect there was something more intuitive going on though because he also asked if I had been exposed to black mold. I explained that we had just gone through a complete rebuild of our winter home in Arizona after a water pipe burst in our absence and water ran for 6 weeks in a dark, warm environment allowing black mold to take over — it actually looked like buckshot splattered the walls and vaulted ceiling.
He sent me home with a mold test kit called an ERMI test to check both our Calgary and Arizona homes. As well, he ordered several genetic tests to see if I have the ability to release mold from my system — specifically from my brain. Although, I must say, I believe that “genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” Nonetheless, I agreed to take a peek at my genetic markers.
My husband Jurgen and I were beyond shocked to discover that it was actually our Calgary home — not our Arizona home — that tested off the charts with black mold! How could that be? Our Calgary home was completely untouched by flooding. It turns out all it took was a window in my office that had lost its seal and water had seeped in creating an all but invisible, yet highly toxic, nightmare.
My genetics test results revealed that I’m highly susceptible to the health problems associated with mold toxicity, especially on a neurological basis. As well, my saliva hormone tests showed my adrenal glands had, once again, hit rock bottom!
I trust in the body’s ability to heal itself, when you follow the right A.N.S.W.E.R. for health that is, by having healthy:
Ever so subtly I had let a few pieces of the A.N.S.W.E.R. slide over this past year and my health quickly paid the price. The following is where I slipped up, either knowingly or quite inadvertently:
- I had begun eating more and more grains and fewer fresh leafy greens.
- My sleep was certainly being affected by the hormone imbalances and weakened adrenal glands, but my increased consumption of grains and sugars was undoing the effectiveness of my “5 Zees to a Great Night’s Sleep” strategies.
- We do have air systems throughout our home so I don’t feel I dropped the ball on that one, but that’s the thing with air — you often can’t see if there’s trouble brewing, unless you’re looking over downtown smog that is.
When you think about it, given most of our diet and lifestyle practices, it’s actually surprising we’re not sicker than we are.
Here are 5 steps to getting your (and my) brain healthy again, slimming down and sleeping through the night:
- As much as I understood the ill effects of grains on the human body, my eyes were opened even wider after listening to an interview with Dr. David Perlmutter on my favorite radio show www.OneRadioNetwork.com.
Dr. David Perlmutter – Empowering Neurologist is the author of Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers. A renowned neurologist, Dr. Perlmutter blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our “smart genes” through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs.
If you’d like to hear why the human body creates seriously damaging inflammation (leaky gut, brain inflammation, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, etc.) you can listen to the interview here: http://tinyurl.com/l8pg9qf
- I eliminated ALL grains (yes, even whole grains), dairy and sugar, except for 1 Pink Lady apple with almond butter as a snack, from my diet.
Within the first week Jurgen and I released 4 pounds each (I prefer the word “released” because if you “lose” weight — or anything really — chances are you’ll “find” it again).
The brain is the fattest organ of the body so it stands to reason that it needs “good” fats to keep it humming along nicely. I began eating more coconut oil, free-range eggs, avocado and small amounts of almond butter.
By doing just this one step of changing our diet I immediately began sleeping through the night again, and if I did get up in the middle of the night to relieve my bladder I fell back to sleep easily.
- I worked with my doctor to get the right balance of Bioidentical Hormones based upon my saliva hormone testing results. If that’s not something that’s available to you, you could try supplementing with one or two of the following:
Ashwagandha – reduces brain-cell degeneration, boosts the immune system, stamina and sexual energy and aids in restorative sleep naturally.
Maca – balances hormones, relieves hot flashes, treats mood swings associated with PMS.
Vitamin D – called the “Sunshine Vitamin” this pre-hormone supports hormone function. It’s worth knowing where your vitamin D levels are first though so ask your doctor for a blood test to avoid over-supplementation. My doctor prefers to see my vitamin D level around 250-300, he feels the “ideal” standard of 150 is too low.
- I started doing a daily practice of yoga — even if I only had time for 3 to 5 Sun Salutations A and B — I make it a point to get my body moving and get oxygen pumping to my brain.
If you’re not sure how to do Sun Salutations, click here to watch a quick video I put together for you.
I’ve also made it a daily ritual to take our dog Coco (who’s just simply 8 pounds of adorableness) for a 15-minute walk. Getting out in the fresh air and sunshine feels sooooo grounding and refreshing. I don’t know why I talk myself out of something that is such a treat for both her and me.
- Removed any and all sources of mold — not just black mold — by doing the following:
a. Cleaned and disinfected the beautiful Buddha fountain in my office, as well as the wall fountain (my favorite disinfectant is still Thieves oil). Fountains can have a lovely soothing affect for your soul but beware — if they’re not cleaned on a weekly basis they can turn into a breeding ground for mold spores.
b. Hired a mold expert to test the air quality in our entire home. We were more than a little relieved to find out that the black mold was no longer airborne — although whenever I mess up teaching a yoga posture I still plan on milking the “I’ve got mold on my brain” excuse for all it’s worth!
c. Our next step is to have a crew in to perform a remediation on my office, which means tearing out the drywall and using special hospital-grade mold eliminators on the affected areas (bleach won’t begin to touch black mold, by the way). Most importantly, the crew will seal around the window in order to address the cause of the problem and make sure it doesn’t reoccur!
As Dr. Perlmutter states in his book Grain Brain (which is available for under $20 at Costco in Calgary right now): “research has shown that people are more afraid of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia than they are of developing cancer or even of dying.”
Prevention is always the way to go (trust me, it’s a lot less expensive than the solution once the damage is done), so please, please, please take care of your brain.