The Link Between Brain Inflammation and Mental Health
Extensive research has shown that brain inflammation is connected to virtually all types of mental illness. Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as more serious conditions like autism, dementia, and even schizophrenia, have all been linked to inflammation of the brain.<
Inflammation is also a contributing factor in such health issues as cardiovascular disease, asthma, and allergies; autoimmune diseases like arthritis and hypothyroidism may be influenced by inflammation as well. Please see Dr. Dave's blog on Psycho-Neuro-Immunology for more details. <
What do we mean by inflammation, and why does it affect us negatively in so many ways?
Inflammation is an immune system response to environmental irritants, toxins, and infection. When the immune system is activated by one of these intruders, pro-inflammatory hormones signal the white blood cells to rush in and clean up the infected or damaged tissue. Once the invaders have been subdued, anti-inflammatory agents move in to begin the healing process.<
In a normal immune system, a natural balance exists between inflammation and the anti-inflammatory agents. But in some cases, the immune system gets stuck in high gear, and symptoms of inflammation do not recede. This is known as chronic inflammation.<
Inappropriate inflammation over a long period of time can lead to the damage or destruction of tissue; this tissue damage can ultimately lead to cardiovascular disease; cancer; neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease and other forms of dementia; 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:
Causes of Inflammation
What causes body and brain inflammation?
There is a great deal of evidence which suggests that inflammation has its roots in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The digestive system is designed to remove toxins, bacteria and viruses from our food before it has a chance to reach the rest of the body; the GI tract is the body's first line of defense against infection and disease.<
Unfortunately, the digestive tract is often overwhelmed by what we put into it. Poor nutrition, medications, stress, and environmental toxins can damage the gut and cause inflammation, which is then free to spread unchecked throughout the rest of the body.<
Regular consumption of foods such as the following are largely responsible for inflammation:
Environmental and lifestyle factors also affect inflammation:
Lab Tests for Inflammation
Inflammation Reduction Strategies
The good news is that there are several things you can do to promote your body's natural anti-inflammatory response and restore natural balance to your immune system.
Eat An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Bioflavonoids and other beneficial anti-inflammatory herbs are gentle on your system and extremely useful in reducing inflammation.
By making a few changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can find yourself feeling energized, refreshed, and filled with a sense of well-being. By taking steps to reduce inflammation, you will greatly improve the quality of your life.
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