THE LINK BETWEEN BRAIN INFLAMMATION AND MENTAL HEALTH
Extensive research shows that brain inflammation is linked to most types of mental illness. Inflammation – an immune response to environmental irritants, toxins and infections – is also a contributing factor in many health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, asthma and allergies. In cases where the immune response gets stuck in high gear, the result is chronic inflammation. This long-term inflammation leads to damage and destruction of tissue, which can then lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, ADHD, autism, and mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
If you have had or are currently experiencing more than a few of the following health issues, this may be a sign that you have chronic inflammation:
- Seasonal/Environmental Allergies
- Frequent colds, infections, sinusitis
- Asthma or bronchitis
- A history of frequent cold sores or canker sores
- Acne, eczema, or skin rashes
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Food allergies, sensitivities
- Inflammatory bowel disease or colitis
- Spastic colon
- Cardiovascular disease, including a history of heart attack
- Type II diabetes or obesity
- Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease
- Mood or behavioral disorders
- Sedentary lifestyle
Digestive imbalances are believed to play a key role in inflammation. The digestive system, which removes toxins, bacteria and viruses from our food, is the body’s first line of defense against infection and disease. A great deal of research suggests that inflammation has its roots in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Overwhelming our digestive system with poor nutrition, stress and medications can lead to damage of the gut and inflammation, which can then spread throughout the body.
REGULAR CONSUMPTION OF FOODS SUCH AS THE FOLLOWING ARE LARGELY RESPONSIBLE FOR INFLAMMATION:
- Refined sugars
- Processed and refined flours
- Foods high in acids
- Dairy products
- Animal fats
- Food Allergens
ENVIRONMENTAL AND LIFESTYLE FACTORS ALSO AFFECT INFLAMMATION:
- Exposure to toxic metals
- History of infections
- Environmental toxins
- Chronic stress
- Lack of exercise; sedentary habits
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Overuse of antibiotics and acid blocking medications
- Poor sleep habits
LAB TESTS FOR INFLAMMATION
- The C-reactive protein test is the most decisive test for detecting inflammation. This simple blood test can reveal high levels of C-reactive protein; CRP is produced by the liver in response to inflammation, infection and injury. It is available by fingerstick or blood draw.
- Food allergy testing can uncover immune responses which may point to inflammation.
INFLAMMATION REDUCTION STRATEGIES
Fortunately, there are many ways to promote your body’s anti-inflammatory response and restore balance to your immune system naturally.
- Regular exercise stimulates your body’s anti-inflammatory abilities. Work your way up to getting 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, at least 3 times per week.
- Sufficient rest and proper stress management are vital to keeping your immune system in working order. Find a relaxation technique that works for you, such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation, and make sure to get enough sleep.
EAT AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET
- Eat plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids. Good sources are salmon, sardines packed in water or olive oil, herring, omega-3 fortified eggs, hemp seeds and flaxseeds, or take a fish oil supplement.
- Avoid eating saturated fat by eating less butter, cream, cheese and other full-fat dairy products.
- Avoid regular safflower and sunflower oils, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and mixed vegetable oils.
- Avoid margarine and vegetable shortening.
- Eat avocados and nuts, especially walnuts, cashews and almonds.
- A high-alkaline diet – one that includes plenty of green, leafy vegetables – is invaluable in combating inflammation.
- Eat plenty of organic brightly colored fruits. Drink pomegranate juice and green tea daily for their antioxidant effects.
- Eat more vegetable protein from soy products such as tofu, edamame, soynuts, and soymilk.
- Whole grains, brown rice, and bulgur wheat are less inflammatory than white flour products.
- Stay away from refined foods.
- Digestive Enzymes
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids (fish oil)
- Herbal anti-inflammatory supplements
Simple changes to your diet and lifestyle have a tremendous effect on your overall health and well-being. These changes help to reduce inflammation naturally and can lead to an improved quality of life.