Tag Archives: Brain fog

Could Hypertension Increase Dementia Risk in Women?

Ifhypertension, blood pressure, brain, memory, dementia you have high blood pressure, heart disease may be the health concern most on your mind. However, high blood pressure can be a risk factor for more than just heart conditions.  A recent study has found that women in their 40’s with high blood pressure have an increased risk of dementia.

What is high blood pressure?

A systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher and a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher defines a diagnosis of high blood pressure, or hypertension.  Systolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure when the heart contracts, while diastolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in between heart beats.

Hypertension occurs when there is some sort of damage or blockage that causes a narrowing of the blood vessels.  This narrowing slows the flow of blood and oxygen to tissues and organs in the body. Over time, this delayed oxygen and blood flow can cause damage to cells in the body that can lead to disease. Therefore, high blood pressure can lead to increased risk of diabetes, kidney damage, stroke, and vision loss.

Hypertension and Dementia

A recent study in the journal Neurology looked at the medical records of about 5600 patients over 15 years to see who developed dementia.  Those women in their 40’s with hypertension had up to a 73-percent risk of developing dementia.  Although, the same was not true of women in their 30’s or of men in their 40’s.  However, further studies must be done to determine the reason for these results.

Previous studies have found a link between high blood pressure and dementia, but it was not clear if hypertension before the age of 50 was a risk factor for the condition. However, it is clear that the brain is a metabolically active organ that requires oxygen to function properly. Without oxygen, brain cells starve and become damaged causing disease and dysfunction.  In order to get enough oxygen, blood flow to the brain must be healthy. Therefore, anything that prevents or delays blood flow, such as hypertension, could lead to cell damage in the brain as is seen in dementia.

Hypertension Prevention

To lower your risk of diseases such as dementia, take the following steps to prevent or control hypertension.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and plant-based oils.  Be sure to limit your intake of sugary and salty processed foods which can increase hypertension risk.
  • Stay active most days of the week.  Walking, jogging, biking, dancing, and swimming are some ways you can stay active to keep your heart healthy. Try to be active for 30 minutes a day for most days of the week to help manage your weight and blood pressure.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.  Over this limit, alcohol can raise blood pressure and can also make it difficult to manage a healthy weight.
  • Control weight since those who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for hypertension than those of a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke since smoking can deprive your body of oxygen since it constricts blood vessels. In turn, smoking can increase risk of hypertension and related health issues.
  • Take all prescribed medications to help manage hypertension so that damage to the body’s cells can be limited.
  • Add in heart-healthy vitamins and supplements to your routine such as Presura by Vita Sciences. Presura contains a combination of hawthorn berry, niacin, and garlic extract to help support healthy blood pressure levels. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. It is important to make sure that any new supplements will not interact with your current prescribed medicines.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (October 2016) “Changes You Can Make to Manage Blood Pressure”

American Heart Association (October 2016) “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings”

Medline Plus (October 4, 2017) “High Blood Pressure in 40’s a Dementia Risk for Women?”

National Institute on Aging (March 1, 2015) “High Blood Pressure” 

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Poor Heart Health Can Increase Stroke and Dementia Risk

healthy eating, health, food, healthy fats, fish, fruits, vegetables, avocado, olive oilWhen you hear about brain health, you may think of lowering stress and anxiety. However, having a healthy brain also involves reducing risk of stroke as well as memory conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.  A recent report has found that keeping your body healthy is vital to keeping your brain healthy.

Having a healthy body involves more than just eating healthy and exercising. American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 provides simple guidelines to help you develop a healthy body and healthy brain.

What are the Life’s Simple 7?

  • Manage blood pressure– A healthy blood pressure is one where the systolic, or top number is 120 or less, and the diastolic, or bottom number, is 80 or less.  The systolic pressure measures the pressure during contraction of your heart, while the diastolic measures the pressure in between heart beats.  You should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year at your annual doctor’s visit.  If you have hypertension, or a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher,  you should see your doctor at least every 6 months to monitor your blood pressure.
  • Control cholesterol– You should keep track of your cholesterol numbers at least once a year to stay healthy. This includes not only total cholesterol, but also your LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.  If you already have high cholesterol or triglycerides, be sure to visit your healthcare provider every 6 months to keep track of your numbers.
  • Keep blood sugar normal– When you visit your health care provider, be sure to take a look at your fasting blood glucose and HgA1C numbers. The fasting blood glucose will give you an idea of your current blood level of glucose. However, your HgA1C will give you a three month average of your blood glucose levels. Your HgA1C provides a long term picture of your blood glucose levels and is a better diagnostic tool. A prediabetes diagnosis would occur at an HgA1C of 5.7 to 6.4.  If your HgA1C is 6.5 or higher, you may have diabetes. Be sure to get your numbers checked every year. Check your numbers more often if you have a family history or diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Get physically active– The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week for optimal health. Moderate exercise can include walking, swimming, gardening, biking, or dancing.  You can split this 30 minutes up into five or ten minutes here and there throughout the day.
  • Eat a healthy diet– A healthy diet contains plenty of protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich foods. Protein can come from lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and healthy plant-based proteins such as legumes, nuts, and seeds. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like oats and quinoa. Also, healthy fats from plant-based oils like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish can improve brain health and improve heart health.
  • Lose extra weight– It is important to maintain a healthy weight to lower risk of chronic conditions. Obesity-related conditions like heart disease and diabetes can increase risk of brain health conditions.  Therefore, losing weight can improve both heart and brain health.
  • Don’t start smoking or quit– Smoking can constrict blood vessels and increase risk of hypertension. Therefore, if you don’t already smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, contact smokefree.gov for resources on how to quit.

A recent report by the American Heart Association (AHA) has found that brain health is linked to healthy lifestyle factors.  For example, increased blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and high cholesterol can increase risk of atherosclerosis, or narrowed blood vessels. Narrow blood vessels can restrict blood flow to the tissues and organs.  This can lead to increased risk of stroke. Over time, multiple strokes or mini strokes can lead to cognitive impairment, or vascular dementia.

The risk factors for stroke as listed in the Life’s Simple 7, are the same for Alzheimer’s disease.  The Life’s Simple 7 are risk factors that can be measured, modified, and monitored.  Therefore, healthcare providers can use the knowledge gained from observing such factors to help better treat their patients.  Scientists hope that such data can also lead to expanding research. They hope they may be able to detect genetic or brain markers that could lower the number of people who get dementia.  Nearly 75 million people are expected to have dementia by the year 2030.  However, this number may be lowered if steps are taken now to provide brain health prevention guidelines. Therefore, take steps to improve your lifestyle today to keep a healthy brain for life.

Other ways to create a healthy life include taking nutrient-rich supplements such as Livrio by Vita Sciences. Livrio contains natural compounds such as milk thistle that have been shown to support a healthy liver.  This supplement helps cleanse and detoxify your liver, in turn providing you with improved energy, glowing skin, and overall well-being.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (September 7, 2017) “Seven Steps to Keep Your Brain Healthy from Childhood to Old Age” http://newsroom.heart.org/news/seven-steps-to-keep-your-brain-healthy-from-childhood-to-old-age

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Could hypertension affect your brain health?

Do you check your blood pressure often? Do you know what your blood pressure numbers vegetables, nutrition, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart healthare?  If you are a young adult, it is very likely that these questions have not been at the forefront of your mind when it comes to your health. A recent study showed that in 2013-2014, only half of the 6.7 million young adults from 18 to 39 years old were treated for high blood pressure. Meanwhile, only 40-percent got their blood pressure under control.  However, blood pressure control is not only important for heart health, but for brain health as well. Recent studies have linked normal blood pressure levels with improved cognition in older adults.

What  is blood pressure and what is considered a healthy level?

The American Heart Association defines high blood pressure, or hypertension, as 140/90.  The top number is the systolic pressure, or pressure at contraction. Furthermore, the bottom number is the diastolic pressure, or pressure in between beats. A normal blood pressure level is 120/80.

Risks of hypertension

You may think that hypertension is only related to heart health. However, a high blood pressure can increase risk of stroke, which affects the vessels in the brain. In addition, those with diabetes may have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels as well as the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. Therefore, those with diabetes should be extra careful to keep track of their blood pressure numbers to make sure they are in a healthy zone.

In addition to heart-related conditions, hypertension can affect brain health. A recent study has found that older adults whose systolic blood pressure was above 150 mmHg had higher levels of mental decline than those below 120 mmHg.  This study looked at 1700 adults from 70-79 years old over a 10-year period. These individuals in the study were being treated for hypertension, but initially had no mental decline. Those highest numbers in mental decline were seen in African-American older adults. Such declines were linked to health conditions such as kidney disease, stroke, and heart health.

How to improve heart health

Besides medications, there are many ways you can work towards improving your heart health.

  • Limit processed food intake such as packaged and canned foods. Crackers, chips, canned soups, sauces, gravies, deli meats, sausages, and hot dogs, as well as frozen meals are all high in sodium. Stick to fresh foods whenever possible. Also, frozen fruits and veggies without added sauces and sugars are good choices for a heart-healthy diet.
  • Stay active often by engaging in moderate activity most days. Walking, biking, dancing, gardening, or swimming are some moderate activities to try. An activity is moderate if you can hold a conversation, but cannot sing while performing it. Stay active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for great heart health benefits.
  • Eat a fiber-rich diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, and whole grain breads.  Consume at least 2 cups of vegetables a day at meal times. Also, add in some low-glycemic fruits such as apples, oranges, and berries for snacks.
  • Stop smoking if you smoke, and don’t start if you don’t. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, which makes it hard for oxygen to flow to your body’s tissues and organs.  Quitting smoking is not easy, so visit Smokefree.gov on resources to help you quit.
  • Keep track of your heart health numbers. Your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood glucose are all important numbers to check each year.  Check more often if you have a family history of diabetes or heart disease. Also, check your numbers at least every 6 months if you have a diagnosis of prediabetes, diabetes, or heart disease.
  • Add a heart healthy supplement to your regimen such as Presura by Vita SciencesPresura contains heart-healthy compounds such as Hawthorn Berry, Niacin, and Garlic extract. These compounds have been found to support healthy blood pressure levels.  Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Medline Plus (August 21, 2017) “Lower Blood Pressure Best for Seniors’ Minds” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167931.html

Medline Plus (August 28, 2017) “Young Adults may be ignoring high blood pressure” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_168063.html

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (February 2017) “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke” https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke

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Could Estrogen Help Depression?

Every once in a while, you may feel a bit gloomy, disappointed, or stressed. However, depression is much more than just having a bad day. Depression is a serious mood disorder that can make simple tasks such as eating, working, and sleeping much more sad, anxiety, depression, menopause, mental healthdifficult. A recent study has found that low estrogen levels in some women may be linked to depression.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), depression occurs when you have several of the following symptoms for more than two weeks.

  • persistent sad mood
  • hopelessness
  • loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable
  • decreased energy
  • trouble focusing or making decisions
  • appetite or weight changes
  • thoughts of taking one’s own life
  • aches or pains with no clear cause

Also, a person may be at higher risk for depression if they have a family history of the condition. Major life changes or chronic health problems may also increase their risk. Most recently, a study in Menopause showed that a lack of estrogen exposure may put women at higher risk for depression.

The study looked at 1300 women and their level of estradiol exposure related to their depression risk. It was found that those with higher levels of estradiol exposure from the onset of menstruation to menopause had lower levels of depression.  Also, those women who had longer term use of birth control had a lower risk of the condition.  It is important to know that the number of pregnancies and use of breastfeeding did not impact these results.

There is no cause and effect of low estrogen and depression, but these study results are still important.  This is because those with earlier menopause, more frequent hot flashes, and less frequent periods all were at higher risk for depression.  Hormone changes are likely to blame for this. During such times during and after menopause, women are at much higher risk for depression than others.

Therefore, if you feel you may be dealing with depression, there are many resources for help.  There is no one treatment that will help everyone. First of all, let your doctor know if you are feeling depressed. Your doctor may be able to provide medicines that may make dealing with your depression easier to deal with. Also, they could test your hormone levels and provide hormone supplements that may reduce symptoms. Other resources for depression are listed below.

  • Talk therapy with a licensed health care provider can help you talk about your feelings. Such counseling can help you manage your stress better and cope with life issues in a healthy way.
  • Being more active through walking, running, gardening, or other exercises. The fresh air from nature and the “feel good” hormones released during exercise can help improve mood.
  • Spending time with other people such as family, friends, or support groups can improve your mood. Talking with others that care about you and your health can help you see that you are not alone in dealing with life’s issues.
  • Setting realistic goals for yourself can make life easier to deal with. Taking small steps towards your goals can make life seem less overwhelming. You should celebrate each small victory and don’t be afraid to ask others for help along the way.
  • Ask your doctor about trying certain supplements such as Estrosa by Vitasciences.  Estrosa contains compounds such as Black Cohosh that have been found to help relieve the hot flashes, weight gain, bloating, and mood swings related to menopause. For both women and men, Elevia by Vitasciences helps boost serotonin levels which can improve mood and calm the mind.

Also, foundations such as Hope for Depression provide valuable resources to help those depression, foundationwith depression learn more about the condition. Also,  this foundation helps support research efforts to find better treatments for those with depression.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Medline Plus (July 21, 2017) “Estrogen May Influence Women’s Depression Risk” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167353.html

National Institute of Mental Health (October 2016) “Depression” https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

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Could your job be causing your vitamin deficiency?

vitamin D, vitamin, deficiencyDo you spend most of your time indoors?  Does your job involve sitting at a desk all day seeing only the light from your desk lamp? If you do work indoors often, do you find yourself getting easily tired, maybe having joint aches and pains, or trouble controlling your blood glucose levels?  A recent study has found that your office job could be robbing you of the sunshine vitamin D and may be in turn causing a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin seen in very few foods such as:

  • salmon
  • tuna
  • dairy products
  • egg yolks
  • fortified cereal products

Therefore, most of the vitamin D your body absorbs is likely coming from sunlight or from supplements.  However, if you are mostly indoors during your day, you may be missing out on the health benefits of vitamin D. Some of the functions of vitamin D include bone strength, immune function, and reduction of inflammation.  Therefore, when you do not have enough vitamin D in your body, you may have increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. This is because such chronic diseases stem from inflammation in the body.

A recent study in the journal BMC Public Health looked at 71 previous studies and found vitamin D deficiency in over three-fourths of shift workers and indoor workers. In addition, over two-thirds of health care students were vitamin D deficient. Furthermore, even nearly half of outdoor workers had vitamin D deficiency. They think that use of sunscreen and limited outdoor time may be causing such a high rate of vitamin D deficiency. However, researchers also warn people of the risks of skin cancers from too much exposure to sunlight. Therefore, vitamin D supplements are an option for those who are low in vitamin D. Most adults should get around 600 IU vitamin D daily. Your doctor however may suggest more if they feel you may be more at risk for low vitamin D.

Another way you can get vitamin D is through a supplements such as Osteovent from Vita Sciences. Osteovent not only contains vitamin D3, but also bone health calcium and magnesium.  This formula, which also contains vitamin K and boron, has been shown to promote bone strength.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Medline Health News (June 22, 2017) “Could Your Job Rob You of Vitamin D?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166833.html

National Institutes of Health (February 11, 2016) “Vitamin D” https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

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5 Causes of Memory Loss in Midlife

Constantly forgetting important errands? Avert your midlife crisis by fixing some typical causes of memory loss that can happen to anybody under the age of 50. Stress, medication, and menopause are all examples of things that can lead to short-term memory loss, even if you’re not a candidate for age-related dementia.

Causes of Memory Loss in Midlife

Memory loss in midlife- it happens.

The good news

“I’m too young for this!” you think as you wrack your brain trying to remember the password for your ATM card… or your son’s birthdate…or your own age (without doing the math). It seems like you’re always getting sidetracked, confused, or lost in a fog. You’re constantly forgetting words that are just on the tip of your tongue.

These are all typical symptoms of brain fatigue. Once you understand what’s causing it, the road to recovery is that much closer.

Here’s the good news: Most likely, it’s not dementia. Even if you’re getting along in years, brain loss from Alzheimer’s disease or other degenerative illnesses are not a given, and don’t happen to all senior citizens.

Often, other factors such as vitamin deficiency, exhaustion, health problems or even daily medications can cause an endless cycle of brain fog, tiredness, forgetfulness, dizziness, and irritability that can make it difficult to function.

Causes of memory loss

The sooner you address these problems, the sooner you can start feeling more focused, energized, and relaxed.

Listed are some common causes of memory loss that can occur in middle age:

1) Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 is necessary for healthy brain functioning. It’s one of the most beneficial nutrients for supporting your nervous system, red blood cell production, and proper metabolism.

Some of the earliest signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are all symptoms that occur in the brain:

  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Distractedness
  • Paranoia

If constant memory loss is interfering with your life, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to dramatically increase your uptake of high-quality vitamin B12 supplements. Most people find that even one week’s worth of B12 supplementation results in an immediate improvement in such symptoms that occur with B12 deficiency- especially chronic fatigue and memory loss. With time, cognitive impairments linked with low vitamin B12 will gradually disappear.

2) Stress

When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce cortisol, the stress hormone. If you suffer from daily stress, then you’re making it round the clock. Too much cortisol in your blood supply is directly linked to memory problems, dizziness, and other signs of mental fatigue.

Stress is a common cause of memory loss for people who suffer from chronic depression. Again, this can be linked to excess cortisol.

Stress management, relaxation, exercise, and a healthy diet are all cited as effective ways to reduce stress and improve your memory.

3) Alcohol

Heavy drinkers may experience memory impairments and forgetfulness caused by Korsakoff’s syndrome. While under the influence, your brain simply isn’t “paying attention” to things that are happening around you. The more time spent drinking, the less memory you will have retained by midlife.

4) Prescription medications

Certain drugs and medical treatments can cause memory loss, brain fog, and confusion. If you’re currently taking a prescription drug that makes you feel forgetful or unfocused, then tell your doctor.

5) Menopause

Also known as “menofog,” memory loss during midlife is a common indicator of menopause. Hormone fluctuations, stress, mood changes and sleep problems can all make it difficult to concentrate, relax, or stick with your everyday routine. As a result, many women approaching their fifties wrongly think they’re going crazy or experiencing the first signs of dementia, when they’re really undergoing the beginnings of menopause.
To find out if menopause may be causing memory problems, speak to a doctor who specializes in women’s health.

What other causes of memory loss can you add to this discussion?

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Vitamin B12- Because you just need Energy

Experiencing an energy crisis? You may just need more vitamin B12. Fatigue, muscle weakness, and mental brain fog are all symptoms of a hidden vitamin B12 deficiency, which can be easily treated with regular supplementation of vitamin B12 (cobalamin).

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can worsen, resulting in severe pernicious anemia, causing irreversible nerve damage. To catch it early, it’s important to recognize the symptoms, such as loss of energy, difficulty thinking straight, and arms or legs always “falling asleep.”

Vitamin B12 deficiency is epidemic

It’s normal to get the blah’s every now and then, but if it seems like your life has been one endless cycle of tiredness, depression, and allover yucky feelings, then you may be a candidate for vitamin B12 deficiency. In fact, vitamin B12 anemia often slips past the radar, as people often assume that if they eat healthy, then they are immune to vitamin deficiency.

Not so- read more to learn why.

Signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency

Your body needs vitamin B12 for energy, good metabolism, cognitive health, nerve cell protection, and red blood cell production.

When your vitamin B12 levels dip to an unhealthy low, you may experience some of the following telltale symptoms- many of which can be misdiagnosed as chronic depression, adrenaline disorders, or multiple sclerosis (MS).

Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Constant overbearing tiredness, despite sleeping well
  • Loss of mental clarity (brain fog)
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Unusual aggression
  • Painful tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Muscle spasms and pain
  • Difficulty controlling arm and leg movements
  • Constantly dropping things
  • Frequent falling

How did this happen?

First, it’s important to understand that even if you eat lots of foods containing vitamin B12, such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products, you still run the risk of becoming deficient in this essential nutrient.

The absolute richest sources of vitamin B12 are organ meats and shellfish.  Eat any fried liver or stewed clams lately? I didn’t think so.

Secondly, there are a host of medical conditions that can interfere with  vitamin B12 absorption– your ability to digest vitamin B12 properly from the protein foods that you do eat, and many of these medical scenarios are becoming more commonplace.

They include:

  • Bariatric surgery
  • Medications for diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and depression
  • Autoimmune illnesses, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac, lupus, and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Gastritis from GERD, fibromyalgia, migraine, or colitis
  • Old age

Finally, if you follow a strict vegan diet, then you will not replenish vitamin B12 stores without constant supplementation. There are no rich dietary sources of vitamin B12 that are plant-based. Zilch.

How can I boost Vitamin B12?

If you’re low in vitamin B12 despite eating healthy, then you will need to add it to your blood supply in a non-dietary form. There are many products on the market that boost energy and contain high doses of vitamin B12 without the need for painful B12 injections.

Get more B12!

Vitamin B12 Patch Box

The Vitamin B12 Patch is a topical B12 patch that was developed by leading scientists… Read more

 

Maxasorb Vitamin B12 Cream

Maxasorb™ B-12 Serum by Vita Sciences is a highly absorbable Vitamin B-12 Cream containing a superior form of B12 (methylcobalamin) for maximum effectiveness.  Read more

 

Nervex Neuropathy Support Cream

Nervex™ Neuropathy Pain Relieving Cream by Vita Sciences is a highly effective, clinically tested , deep penetrating cream. Read more

 

 

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