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Re-wire: look forward to retirement with a brain that’s still healthy

‘Degenerative brain disease is not inevitable’ Eric Ho

Eric Ho concluded his five-part Re-set series of webinars for RPC on 3 December with a compelling call to action: focus on the health of your brain today to enjoy an active life and independence in your retirement. In case you missed it, watch the recording here.

Too often we feel we can put ourselves through a gruelling lifestyle and compensate later. Sleepless night? Catch up tomorrow. Feeling groggy? More coffee. Onset of illness? Get a prescription.

However, these behaviours merely address the symptoms and store up more trouble for us later in life. Far better surely, to deal with the underlying causes of our discomfort and reduce, if not reverse them altogether?

Environmental toxins: dangers hiding in plain sight

Having focused in previous webinars on the benefits of managing stress (Re-think), eating well (Re-fuel), sleeping well (Re-store) and staying active (Re-charge), Eric turned his attention to environmental toxins in this final session.

And in short, they’re everywhere. We find them in:

  • Foods that contain pesticides, antibiotics, heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead, and food additives;
  • Plastics containing BPA and their newer replacements;
  • Indoor air where a building has even minor leaks leading to mould and furniture treated with fire retardant materials
  • Drinking water; and
  • Cosmetics, personal care products and household cleaning products.

These hazards – and many more besides, such as pollutants emitted by vehicles and industrial processes – hamper our natural detoxification processes. They alter the way we produce and release hormones, affecting our gut flora and in turn our susceptibility to inflammation throughout our whole body.

Try as it might to counter the effects harmful effects of toxins on gut health and the immune system, after a prolonged assault, the body eventually gives up. This is when we become vulnerable to all sorts of mental as well as physical diseases including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and psoriasis.

Be toxin intolerant

Clearly, minimising our exposure to toxins is better than trying to undo their effects later. Ways to do this include:

  • Buying organic food when you can - and when the household budget permits;
  • Storing food safely – glass containers and stainless steel options are better than plastic ;
  • Using safe cleaning products – sometimes the dirt they’re designed to deal with isn’t all they’re breaking down*;
  • Choosing personal care products with toxins in mind - remember, anything you rub on your skin can reach the bloodstream*; and
  • Filtering water and indoor air.

*Apps such as Think Dirty, Skin Deep and Healthy Living, available on the Apple App Store (for iPhones and iPads) and Google Play (for Android devices), can help you assess the safety or otherwise of many cleaning and personal care products.

Detoxify

To avoid every toxin that has pervaded modern life is a big ask. It’s impossible to hermetically seal ourselves off from all of them. That said, if we can steer clear of those that are avoidable and detoxify our bodies of at least some of those that we are exposed to, we really can look forward to retirement with our brain health intact.

Excellent detoxification strategies include:

  • Working up a sweat – whether it’s through vigorous exercise or by sitting in a sauna, ‘sweating it out’ means exactly that;
  • Managing stress – moving around and getting out in nature are great stress relievers;
  • Sleeping well – the body does a lot of vital overnight repair work when we sleep soundly for seven to nine hours a night;
  • Eating real food – if it wasn’t around in your great grandparents’ day, it probably isn’t real; and
  • Maintaining healthy gut flora – bone broths and fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kvass and kimchi are your gut’s best friends.

To sum up the webinar, Eric reminded us that 85% of the causes of poor health outcomes are environmental, not genetic. It’s in our power to determine how healthy our brains will be when we reach retirement by making lifestyle choices now.

About Eric Ho

Eric understands the challenges that executive stress places on wellbeing from both sides of the coach / coached equation. He’s one of just three US National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaches in the UK - and a lawyer of 20 years standing.

Through his business, Bumblebee Wellbeing, Eric helps people manage the personal downsides of success and find the sweet spot where health, leadership, productivity and happiness intersect.

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