The brain is considered the control center of the body. It is responsible for managing all of our bodily functions, as well as our cognitive abilities such as thinking, reasoning, memory, and emotions. However, the brain’s health can be influenced by a variety of factors, including inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to cognitive decline and negatively impact brain health.
Understanding the link between inflammation and brain health is crucial for taking steps to maintain optimal brain function and prevent conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This month, Dr. Gray and her team are exploring the effects of systemic inflammation on brain health as part of their 2023 Inflammation Series.
Understanding Brain Inflammation
Chronic inflammation in the brain can contribute to thinking and memory problems, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, stroke, and other neurologic conditions. The brain is particularly vulnerable to inflammation because it lacks the lymphatic system, which helps the body to clear out toxins and other harmful substances.
The causes of brain inflammation are diverse. When your brain is constantly exposed to perceived pathogens, toxins, and harmful antibodies, specialized immune cells jump into overdrive and cause chronic neuroinflammation. Research shows that other factors that contribute to systemic inflammation include:
- Early childhood trauma
- Poor sleep
- Unhealthy diet
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Lack of exercise
It is found that inflammation in the brain is primarily a result of inflammation throughout the body triggered by lifestyle behaviors like smoking, being overweight, and not engaging in physical activity.
Consequences of Systemic Inflammation on Brain Health
In addition to cognitive symptoms, systemic inflammation can also cause what is known as “sickness behavior” which includes symptoms such as depression, decreased physical activity, fatigue, lack of motivation, and lack of appetite.
These symptoms can be severe, long-lasting and can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Moreover, chronic inflammation has been linked to a variety of health problems, and its effects on brain health are becoming increasingly recognized. It has been implicated in the development of several chronic health conditions, including:
- Brain fog
- Irritability and mood swings
- Depression and anxiety
- Chronic pain
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
Another factor that can trigger chronic inflammation in the brain is leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability. Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged and allows toxins and undigested food particles to leak into the bloodstream. In addition, some evidence suggests that chronic inflammation caused by leaky gut may increase the risk of developing chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis. Maintaining a healthy gut lining through proper nutrition and lifestyle habits may be crucial in preventing chronic inflammation and promoting brain health.
How to Reduce Inflammation
Although inflammation can have a significant impact on brain health, the good news is that there are several things you can do to reduce inflammation and promote a healthy brain. Lifestyle changes play a crucial role in reducing inflammation levels.
Eating a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help reduce inflammation in the body. Avoiding processed and packaged foods that are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats can also be beneficial. Some foods with anti-inflammatory properties include leafy greens, berries, nuts, fatty fish, and spices like turmeric and ginger.
Regular exercise has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, including the brain. Aim for at least 30 minutes of movement most days of the week. Activities like brisk walking, cycling, and swimming can be effective.
Getting enough quality sleep is essential for reducing inflammation in the body and promoting brain health. Aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, and practice good sleep hygiene habits like avoiding screens before bed and creating a dark, cool, and quiet sleep environment.
Chronic stress can contribute to inflammation in the body, so finding ways to manage stress can be helpful. Practices like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and regular social support can all help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
By incorporating these lifestyle changes, you can help reduce inflammation in your body and promote optimal brain health. However, it is important to remember that everyone’s body and lifestyle is unique, so finding the right balance of these interventions may take some trial and error. With the right approach, you can take control of your health and reduce inflammation for a healthier brain and body.
How Restore Can Help
At Restore Health & Longevity Center, we believe that optimizing brain health is crucial for overall wellness. Our BrainSpan test or systemic inflammation test is an advanced cognitive assessment that provides personalized insights into brain health and potential areas of improvement. In addition to its focus on brain health, inflammation is also tied to most chronic diseases, such as
- Joint pain
- Heart disease
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Gut health
- Neurological issues
- Unexplained weight gain/GI issues
- Autoimmune issues
- Anxiety disorders
Regular blood tests don’t look at this marker, so it’s an important test to consider for a comprehensive understanding of your health. In addition to the BrainSpan test, we also focus on other great markers, with the main one being your Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio. By understanding this ratio, we can develop personalized plans to improve your brain health and overall wellness.
If you’re interested in the BrainSpan test, you can purchase the kit for $249, which includes a session with Dr. Gray to review your results. You’ll leave with a sustainable action plan to address any areas of concern and optimize your health.
Additionally, we offer our Brain Tap Service program, which includes a range of guided meditation and relaxation exercises to help manage stress and promote relaxation.
At Restore, we believe that reducing inflammation and promoting brain health can lead to a host of benefits for your overall wellness, including improved cognitive function and slower aging.
By taking proactive steps to reduce inflammation and promote brain health, you can support your overall wellness and cognitive function. Contact us or schedule an inflammation consultation with Dr. Gray today!
Did you miss last month’s blog focused on The Effects of Stress on Inflammation? Check it out here!