Gary Null, author of more than seventy books on aging, health, and the brain, writes in the introduction of his book, Gary Null’s Mind Power: Rejuvenate Your Brain and Memory Naturally:

I look at the people I went to high school with and am shocked to see how sick they look.  They look old and beaten up because they are living like their parents.  They believe they are just doing what good citizens do.  And indeed they are all good, decent, kindhearted citizens, but they aren’t being good to themselves.  And now their illnesses and their prematurely aged bodies are a testament to what happens when you never question old beliefs.

And so, I challenge you to examine your definitions of aging, to challenge a belief system that tells you that you must accept a quiet decline, a gradual fading of the mind, body, and spirit.  I challenge you to remember that it is the quality of your own beliefs that ultimately determines the quality of your life and growth for your brain and your body, no matter what your age.

Null goes on to say that we have a “use or lose it” brain at any age, what weakens brain function is not merely the act of aging.  The brain does not inevitably wear out as we grow old.  He posits that the body and brain begin to experience the cumulative effects of damaging lifestyle habits and outside influences and what has been labeled “age-related” decline are really the result of neglect of our bodies and brains. He writes:

Staying vital both mentally and physically as we age requires paying close attention to the mind/body connection and the effects of outside factors – such as environment, nutrition and diet, stress and emotion – bring to bare on our welfare.

…If we understand the negative factors and how they impact our mental vitality, we can make the necessary changes to ensure vigorous mental health throughout our lifetimes.

Null proposes that :


According to Null, there are roughly one thousand known substances that may cause brain toxicity and accelerate decline.  You may think that these are substances with which you would rarely come into contact; however, many you are probably exposed to many on a regular basis in your daily life.  Null lists key environmental factors that can negatively impact mental health as you age as follows: (See previous blog for lifestyle factors Are Your Beliefs Aging Your Brain Part 1)

Environmental Factors

Arsenic – is found naturally in soil, water, and air and is released into the environment by some manufacturing processes. The central nervous system, blood, kidneys, digestive system, and skin are the main targets of arsenic toxicity.

Lead – is found in the dust and chips of old paint manufactured prior to 1940.   Lead also may be found in toys, ceramics and china, imported candies, cosmetics, food cans and more.  Adverse effects of lead exposure are seen in the brain, bones, blood, kidneys, and thyroid.

Mercury – is used in thermometers, thermostats, many medicines, and until 1990 was added to paint as a fungicide.  The paper industries and the mining industry are significant producers of mercury.  Mercury is extremely toxic and exposure can result in serious physical and neurological problems and even death.  Short -term memory loss is linked to having mercury in the body.

Cadmium – is a by product some mining operations and is used in some fertilizers which may leach into water supplies.  Cigarettes contain cadmium.  Inhalation or ingestion of cadmium can damage the brain, liver, kidneys, bones and lungs.

Aluminum – is used in abundance in our modern world.  It can be found in food additives, antiperspirants, drinking water, automobile exhaust, tobacco smoke, foil, cookware, cans, and ceramics. Researchers have found significant amounts of aluminum in the brain tissues of patients with Alzheimer’s disease but there is no conclusive evidence of the relationship.

Manganese – is used commonly used as an anti-knock additive in gasoline. If inhaled, manganese is transported directly to the brain and causes neurological problems.

Solvents and Feuls – Paints, glues, and thinners have substances which have been shown to cause neurological problems. Toulene, in particular, has been shown to cause dementia, balance and coordination problems as well as brain atrophy.  It can be found in household aerosols, nail polish, paint, and some cleaning products.

Pesticides – Numerous pesticides have been shown to have neurotoxic effects when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.  When exposed to pesticides, a person may develop headaches, fuzzy vision, or speech difficulties.

Carbon Monoxide – wreaks havoc on the brain and can kill.  Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless by-product of combustion and is present whenever fuel is burned. It is produced by common home appliances, such as gas or oil furnaces, gas refrigerators, gas clothes dryers, gas ranges, gas water heaters or space heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills, and wood burning stoves.  When Carbon monoxide does not kill, it damages the brain causing memory loss and other cognitive impairments.

Read Part I here



Share this article!


  1. Looks like our brains is what we sacrifice living in the industrial world:) ? Our modern world is killing our minds and maybe body too.

    I wish we knew more about how to combat inhalation, ingestion of these elements? Or how to avoid these environmental factors in our daily lives, personal spaces.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Yes, we structured our current world and the products within it by which we we are surrounded at all angles without much regard to the impact on our brains and bodies.

      We really have to educate ourselves, make some changes in our own lives, and pout pressure on companies to do so as well!

  2. Hi Debbie,
    It seems like the human body is being attacked by so many outside forces. We seem to be negatively affected by our modern world with all the toxic substances that are placed in our foods and drinks.

    Ideally we will create a world where only natural and harmless products will be used in things we place in or on our body.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Hey, Justin! Yes, it would, indeed be an ideal world with only harmless or natural products. Before that can happen, people have to place a higher value on their health and the well being of society and the planet than the almighty dollar. This awareness is slowly happening, but I am afraid we will destroy ourselves and the Earth first.

  3. Debbie,

    I’ve been contemplating the mind-body connection more in the past week so this post is very timely for me. I know I have an overabundance of toxic metals in my body. That’s one reason I’ve chosen to leave in a clean and healthy environment! I feel fortunate. Thanks for this reality check on environmental factors.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Glad this post hit home at the right time for you, Sandra.

      I feel like I live in a reasonably clean area and do try to avoid particularly toxic environments and exposures these days.

      However, I don’t even want to think about my earlier decades when I smoked and was totally oblivious to such things.

  4. Pingback: Are Your Beliefs Aging Your Brain? (Part 1) - The best brain possible

Write A Comment