Published on September 29th, 2018 | by Dr. Doug Pucci0
Inflammation May Cause Brain Disorders
by Doug Pucci
Chronic inflammation is at the root of myriad health problems from arthritis and heart disease to Crohn’s and cancer. A new study published in Neurology shows that inflammation in midlife may lead to brain shrinkage and brain disorders in later life.
This study followed 1,633 participants for a period of 24 years; when these volunteers reached the age of 77, scientists measured their brain volume using MRI scans. They discovered that those that had a higher number of inflammatory markers in their 40s and 50s had lower performance scores on word memorization tests than those with lower inflammation. Significantly, the scans also showed that there was less volume in certain areas of the brain, particularly those such as the hippocampus, that are related to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The takeaway from this study is people that have higher chronic inflammation markers in midlife may be at higher risk for degenerative brain diseases than those which do not.
Likewise, chronic inflammation is also at the root of other brain issues such as depression, anxiety and brain fog. As reported by Fortune magazine in October 2017, the number of people globally that suffer from depression is staggering at over 300 million, and 260 million are suffering with anxiety disorders. While there are other medical or psychological reasons for some of these brain disorders, inflammation may still in part or wholly account for the underlying cause.
Brain fog, considered a cognitive dysfunction, can impact daily life, and ranges in its level of severity from annoying to severe. Symptoms include fatigue, lack of focus, poor memory, confusion, difficulty putting words together and more. While many people ascribe these symptoms to aging or a normal part of life, they aren’t something to be ignored or accepted. Such fog is the brain’s way of telling us that something needs to be corrected, just like pain, nausea or other symptoms elsewhere in the body.
Medications can also cause brain fog, but the answer is not to add more medication in order to counteract the effects of those that may be causing the problem. Simple methods can reduce or avoid inflammation without prescription or over-the-counter medications. A couple of major contributors to inflammation are sugar and processed or packaged foods. Not only do they cause inflammation on their own, but if they make up a good portion of caloric intake, these nutrient foods can lead to deficiency in some vitamins and minerals that are important to both physical and mental health. Processed foods also contain excessive amounts of sodium and other chemicals that are damaging to health. Supplements alone aren’t enough to make up for that.
Anyone can begin lowering inflammation levels by replacing refined sugars and processed or packaged foods with whole foods. Some good choices include these “brain foods” such as fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines; tree nuts like walnuts and seeds; coconut, avocado and olive oils; shellfish such as oysters and mussels; and avocado fruit. Antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, teas and spices (cinnamon, turmeric) are also a great benefit. Eggs, particularly the egg yolk, are also recommended as brain food. And there are many more, including leafy greens.
Functional medicine doctors offer comprehensive testing to detect food sensitivities or allergies to grains, dairy and other foods that can promote inflammation and lead to leaky gut syndrome, as well as focusing on stabilizing sugar metabolism and replacing starchy carbohydrates with healthy brain foods as a good first step toward health for all.
Dr. Doug Pucci, DC, FAAIM, regularly offers promotions featuring the latest science and clinical data on neurotoxic illness and chronic disease. He provides nutrition, comprehensive testing for health biomarkers, toxicology and brain/body well-being. For more information, call 201-261-5430 or visit GetWell-Now.com.