The overlooked cause of mental decline

posted in: Functional Medicine | 12

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the overlooked cause of mental declineI have recently read something that I feel compelled to discuss with you.  In 2015, Canadian medical researchers at the University of Calgary and the University of Saskatchewan surveyed the medical literature on the subjects of the common and overlooked cause of mental decline and dementia.


Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, occurs in one in nine people of age 65 and over.


What do you think the overlooked cause of mental decline is?


I will give you a hint. I have been talking about it all along.


I bet you guessed it right.


According to the researchers, the widespread and overlooked cause of mental decline is environmental toxicants that are found in products we use in our homes and on our bodies every day.


In fact, here is what they said, “As recent evidence suggests that 70–90% of chronic disease is likely related to environmental determinants, ample understanding of environmental health science is required for the practice of contemporary health care.”


They talk about the fact that various toxicants can have a very strong impact on our health even in very small doses and many of those toxicants have the ability to accumulate in the body, which can cause health problems many years later.


Furthermore, the Canadian doctors provide a list of specific toxicants implicated in mental decline. These include lead, mercury, BPA, phthalates, brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, many of which I have been writing about for quite some time.


How does it make you feel? Do you feel happy that I am telling you this or do feel like you want to stop reading?  Please let us know in the comments to this post.


Let me tell you how I felt after I had read this.


I felt happy and empowered. My genetics are not very good.  My father died of cancer at the age of 57, and my brother was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 57.  But I know that my environment is more important than genetics, which means that with everything I am doing there is a very good chance that I won’t be struck by cancer.


The Canadian researchers describe the case of a 69-year old man who was able to recover from severe memory loss, depression, and bipolar syndrome after 6 months of detoxifying lead that he had stored in his body over the course of his life.  Recovery is possible even in an advanced stage! Hurray!


Similarly, utilizing a functional medicine approach, I was able to recover from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.


I have been currently working with my functional medicine doctor to reverse the other autoimmune illness I have, called Addison’s or adrenal insufficiency.  You can read more here.


There is a lot of progress already, and I am hopeful.  And even if I don’t recover from such a complicated disease, the things I am doing positively impact how I feel on a daily basis (and help my looks, too).  I used to have adult acne, an “unexplained” aching in the tummy, restless leg syndrome, fatigue, recurring UTIs, excessive hair loss, dandruff, weak nails, dry or oily skin and other minor symptoms that conventional doctors have neither the time nor tools to deal with.


Besides feeling happy and empowered, I feel angry, too, that manufacturers pollute us with toxicants without repercussions and make us pay with our health for their manufacturing costs.


And I also feel frustrated. I often talk to people in social settings who are burdened by a skin disorder, allergies, fatigue, weight problems, hormone imbalances, chronic disease, and who are convinced that there is nothing to be done.  Or they tell me that their children have these conditions.  And I am there trying my best not to say anything they are not ready to hear, feeling frustrated because I believe that there might be solutions for them to improve the quality of their lives (of course, there are no guarantees).  And those solutions do not have to be difficult and expensive.  It can be as simple as a vitamin D deficiency or advice to stop taking lead-contaminated supplements.


From talking to you, I think a lot of people are simply overwhelmed and, as a result, simply do not want to hear anything more about pollution and toxicants.  As soon as we learn something new about a harmful ingredient, we tend to think that we need to remove the exposure 100%, and if 100% is not possible, why even bother?


What we often forget is that even if we reduce exposure by a small amount, we can make a big difference in our health.


Let’s say you learned that there are flame-retardants in your upholstered furniture.  For most people, replacing all upholstered furniture at once simply does not fall within the budget.  So what do you do?  You get angry wishing that you never found out about flame-retardants in the first place. And this is normal.


But, is that the only option?  No!  We have lots of options.


For example, you could replace the petroleum-based foam in your sofa cushions, or even just making sure that the dust-containing flame-retardants do not become airborne.  As a result, you would be less exposed to flame retardants, which can make a huge difference in your long-term health.  And yes, flame-retardants are on the list of toxicants associated with dementia.


My functional medicine doctor is focused on working with people who experience mental decline.  She hired me to go over the list of toxicants compiled by the Canadian researchers and present her patients with simple and actionable steps they can take to reduce exposure to the harmful chemicals in their environment.


Here is my question to you. Would you be interested in reducing exposure to toxicants associated with overlooked causes of mental decline? Most of those toxicants are associated with hormone disruption, recurring infections, and cancer, to name a few.


If yes, how can I help you the most?  Are you getting enough information from me already?  Would you be happy with another e-book, or would you benefit from the support of a group class or one-on-one coaching?


I have been getting more one-on-one clients.  Some of them are repeat clients.  And I can tell that a conversation on the phone or by video conferencing is worth much more than a thousand words in a post.  You can read their testimonial here and here.


Let me know what you think. Will you, please?  Let me know how I can help.  You can access the Canadian study here.

12 Responses

  1. Ruth Hendrickson

    Would you use this for small kids? I have a 2 yr old son and we currently use hello toothpaste for him.

  2. Cherie

    Dear Irina,

    First let me tell you how much I appreciate what you do! I discovered your website about 6 months ago and I have been very impressed by your rigor and accuracy on most of what you write. I am an architect and a serious student of environmental toxins (also with a master’s degree in sustainability and environmental policy, ALM Harvard, 2018), so I am well aware of how difficult and mind-bending it is to sleuth out the kind of information you provide!

    If I may add something to the conversation about BPA and the “regrettable substitutions”…

    I have been curious about new labels popping up on food containers and packaging that say, “BPA and BPS free,” so I tried to gain some clarity on the differences between BPF and BPS, the bisphenols used as substitutes for BPA in food packaging. I read a study (Yang et al, 2011) that BPS is used only in industrial applications and not in food sector plastics, whereas BPF is used in food packaging. Other studies I have read make no distinction between BPF and BPS, but this distinction appears to matter. BPS (the industrial alternative) is less potent than BPA, but BPF (the “BPA free” alternative use in food plastics) is equally as potent as BPA and has the same correlation as BPA to endocrine and developmental disruption, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

    This means that “BPA free” is no safer than BPA because it contains BPF. Moreover, “BPA and BPS free” labels seem to be a diversion, similar to “GMO-free” labels, used by manufacturers to convince consumers that their food is safe by attaching accurate but misleading labels. You can read the Yang study here:

    If I may add something to the conversation about BPA…

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Cherie, I am so happy you are here. You are right, the conversation about BPA is confusing and incomplete. I tried to tackle BPA in here and here. Have you read these posts? You link the study that I know as Bittner’s. 🙂 Thank you so much for adding to the conversation! ~Irina

  3. Falon choate

    I appreciate all the hard work you do. My family and I definitely benefit from it. Yes, I definitely want to learn more about environmental toxins and mental decline. Unfortunately, financially we cant afford to do the one on one’s so I try to take in as much information from your blogs as possible.

    It is very overwhelming but I try to change what I can at the time. A simple guide broken down may help. For example:
    Things you can do immediately and to things work on removing and rated by importance or priority. Just something that is quick and easy to glance at so it’s not super overwhelming but do able in increments. Just some thoughts…

    Thank you for all your hard work.

  4. Myrto Ashe

    Hi Irina, thanks so much for posting this. I just came back from a trip to the East Coast, and discovered with shock what happens as soon as I leave my little bubble – from the perfume on the plane wafting down from the air vents, to the homes of relatives who just don’t know. Then I attended a functional medicine conference where we talked about the three most important pillars to maintain health: an attitude of gratitude and awe, toxins and toxicants, and healthy food.

    Yes, it’s empowering, to think that the changes we make to our habits and environment will help us in so many different ways, including avoiding mental and cognitive decline.

    And absolutely, it’s upsetting, and very sad to think of all the people who are declining already, and how we wish that our world had been a safer place for them.

    Recent research shows that at any given age, we are actually a little less likely to get Alzheimer’s than previous generations: I think this is because of our efforts to remove lead and PCBs from the environment. So let’s all keep up the good work both at home and in supporting laws for our environment. We are living longer than previous generations, so we still need to put in the work that supports healthy aging.

  5. Yvonne

    I just wanted to thank you for your continued work to inform people of the reality of what we encounter everyday. I’m especially glad for the link to the article.

  6. Karen Smeltzer

    Maybe I missed it, but what do you recommend to avoid BPA and BPF since it’s just as bad as BPA and it’s in BPA free things? I try to avoid plastic as much as possible at home but for example when travelling in airports etc., you can’t take water through security so you have to buy it in plastic on the other side. I occasionally find BPA free bottle of water but obviously that doesn’t even matter. Even if I took my empty glass bottle through security, what water would I even fill it with?! It’s so frustrating travelling, etc.!

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Karen: thank you for asking. What do you think about a packing an empty filter bottle and after security using it? Aquasana started making their filter water bottles in glass or stainless steel? They won’t remove everything of course but reducing chlorine and heavy metals is a big plus. I think they are running a sales right now. ~Irina

  7. Karen Smeltzer

    That is an awesome idea! I had not thought of that. I will definitely be checking that out! Thank you!

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