Updated: Jun 2, 2020
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Our modern world has made everything so easy for us. Industrial agriculture mass produces our food -- using pesticides and herbicides on crops, and growth hormones and antibiotics on livestock -- so that we have our pick of the “best” foods in the grocery store. When we travel, we can go by train, plane or automobile. Unfortunately, the technological advancements that have made life so easy for us are also the causes of neurological inflammation.
Cutting-edge clinical research studies have found evidence that neurological inflammation can be the cause of belly fat, unwanted weight gain, brain fog, depression, anxiety, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and many more. And many of the causes of neurological inflammation are found in the environment and in the diet.
The four causes of neurological inflammation are the standard American diet, stress, environmental toxins, and chronically low levels of brain-boosting nutrients. Let’s take them one by one.
1. The Standard American Diet: One of the most Common Causes of Neurological Inflammation The standard American diet (SAD) is one of the causes of neurological inflammation for which almost everyone willingly participates, though most people do so with no thought of the long-term health consequences. The typical American diet is filled with carbs, sugar and processed fats. It includes processed foods filled with chemicals and preservatives. (If you’re not sure if the item is processed, read the label. If it has several ingredients, most of which are words you can’t pronounce, it is highly processed.)
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, almost 1,000 calories per day of the average American’s diet comes from highly processed foods. These are manufactured foods that no longer resemble the plant or animal sources from which they originated. They are also typically loaded with sugar and processed fats.
And if consumers are not purchasing these highly processed foods in the grocery store, they are hitting up fast food restaurants. A recent survey showed that 31.89 percent of Americans ate fast food one to three times per week. (To be fair, almost the same number of people in the survey reported they ate fast food less than once per week.)
Regularly eating the standard American diet is one of the causes of neurological inflammation that leads to a slower metabolism, obesity, as well as the other conditions discussed earlier.
Reducing Neurological Inflammation with your Diet If your diet caused brain inflammation, your diet can reverse it. Here are some easy ways to do it.
Replace SAD with SANE A SANE diet involves eating foods in their natural states as much as possible. That means selecting produce at the grocery store that you could have picked yourself. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are great, but make sure the frozen kind doesn’t have sugars or flavorings. Choose lean meats you could have hunted. Free-range chickens, grass-fed beef, and wild caught fish are the best options, but it’s not absolutely necessary. After you purchase your unprocessed whole foods, it’s time to put them to work for you in the SANE Diet.
There are four basic SANE food groups. Try to eat the first three at every meal because they work together to heal your hormones and reduce brain inflammation.
Non-Starchy Vegetables Eat 10+ servings of non-starchy vegetables per day, at least three servings with each meal. Don’t like veggies? No problem! Whip them up into a delicious, brain-boosting green smoothie. Here are some great choices:
- Spinach - Kale - Broccoli - Asparagus - Brussels Sprouts - Cucumber - Zucchini
Nutrient-Dense Protein Eat 3-5 servings per day, 30-50 grams of protein per meal. (One serving is about the size of a man’s hand.) Here are some delicious options:
- Lean meats - Seafood - Nonfat Greek yogurt - Cottage cheese - Grass-fed beef
Whole-Food Fats Eat 3-5 servings per day. (Be sure to eat the food rather than just the oil, as the food contains protein, fiber and other nutrients that help reduce brain inflammation.) Try some of these tasty fats:
- Avocado - Almonds - Chia seeds - Coconut - Cocoa/Cacao - Flaxseeds
Low-Fructose Fruits Eat 0-3 servings per day. Here are some sweet (but not too sweet) options for you to enjoy as an after-dinner dessert or as a snack.
- Acai berries - Grapefruit - Lemon - Blueberries - Strawberries - Cherries
Other Principles of SANE - Stay away from products with added sugars as much as possible. (Increasing your protein intake should curb your cravings for sugar.)
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, as this is where you will find most unprocessed foods. Avoid the processed foods area (the center aisles) of the store like the plague!
- You don’t have to change everything in your diet all at once. Make little substitutions at a time and, before you know it, you will be completely SANE. And your brain will be inflammation-free!
2. Stress: One of the Most Unexpected Causes of Neurological Inflammation We live in a very stressful society. People work too much, sleep too little, and worry too much about things they can’t control. And research shows it is taking a mental and physical toll on people.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the United States suffer from anxiety. (That is 18 percent of the country’s population.) Anxiety disorders, of which there are several types, are the most common mental illness in America. Stress can also cause depression, as statistics show that nearly half of those diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are also diagnosed with depression. But stress doesn’t just affect you mentally; it can also cause a host of health problems.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can contribute to the following conditions: - Diabetes - Headaches - Digestive issues - Fatigue - Insomnia - Obesity - High blood pressure - Heart disease
As previously mentioned, neurological inflammation may also contribute to these conditions, and it has been proven to cause memory loss and depression.
Reduce Stress/Reduce Neurological Inflammation You can reduce neurological inflammation by de-stressing regularly. Here are four ways for you to relax and let your brain heal.
Meditate: Meditation is not complicated, and you don’t have to be a monk. All you need to do is try to sit quietly for a few minutes, and you don’t have to try to clear your mind of all thoughts. Just observe your thoughts enter and leave your mind, and don’t get involved with any of them. Eventually, your thoughts will slow down on their own.
Be Mindful: You don’t even have to sit down and close your eyes to meditate. Try this: several times a day, bring your attention to what you’re doing at that moment. Immerse yourself in the present moment. Notice every sensation as if it’s the only thing in your world. You may be surprised how stress and anxiety ends. There is no fear or worry in the present moment because those emotions come from thinking about the future. In the beginning, you may only be able to keep your focus for a few seconds at a time, but with practice, you should be able to extend it for several minutes. This will bring exquisite peace.
Take a Leisurely Walk: For true relaxation, nothing beats taking a stroll in the park on a sunny day.
Have Fun: One of the best ways to de-stress is to plan regular enjoyable activities. Join a bowling league. Go to the movies with a friend. Join co-workers for a night out. And always take a week’s vacation from work at least once a year!
3. Environmental Toxins: One of the Most Inescapable Causes of Neurological Inflammation Environmental toxins are inescapable in the modern environment. Here are just a few of the most common ones: - Air pollution - Pesticides - Molds - Dioxins (from burning fuels) - Heavy metals, ie, arsenic, lead, aluminum - Chemicals in household cleaners - BPA in plastics
These toxins have been shown to cause many serious conditions, and they are also one of the causes of neurological inflammation.
Avoiding Environmental Toxins Though you cannot totally escape these toxins, it is possible to minimize your exposure to them. Here are a few tips to help you avoid these toxins and reduce brain inflammation.
- Eat organic foods as much as possible. That goes for meat products, too. Try to purchase organic, free-range chicken and eggs, and grass-fed beef. Purchase wild-caught fish.
- Toss chemical household cleaning products. These days, there are many natural cleaning products that you can purchase, and they work just as good (or better) than the brands loaded with chemicals.
- Avoid using artificial fragrances in your home. This includes dryer sheets, air fresheners, and fabric softeners. All of these pollute the air inside your home, increasing brain inflammation.
- Avoid eating heavily processed foods, as these contain dangerous food additives.
- Install water filters on all your water faucets at home, even those in your bathroom, to eliminate contaminants.
4. Chronically Low Levels of Brain Boosting Nutrients: The Most Controllable Cause of Neurological Inflammation
A deficiency of brain boosting nutrients is one of the causes of neurological inflammation that has gone unnoticed until recently. Researchers have discovered, however, that there are four nutrients of which, for various reasons, most people are deficient. Such deficiencies can cause cognitive impairment, mood disorders, brain fog, weight gain and much more.
Here are the four nutrients essential for optimal brain health, and why you may not be getting enough of them.
Folate Folate, also called folic acid or vitamin B9, is needed to make DNA, and it is essential for cell generation. Folate is also necessary for proper fetal development. Your body doesn’t make folate, so you must get it from your diet.
- Some common food sources of folate include: - Green leafy vegetables - Nuts - Poultry - Seafood - Eggs - Meats - Beef liver
However, folate must be converted into 5-MTHF before your body can use it, and you need the enzyme MTHFR to do this. Researchers discovered that many people do not produce an adequate or effective amount of MTHFR, which means a lot of us have low levels of folate. Even those who do have enough MTHFR may not be getting enough of this brain-boosting nutrient because the folate content of food is rapidly lost during processing.
It seems certain that most people, then, are running low on folate, which could be causing a bunch of problems that many people think are just a normal part of the aging process. Research has shown that brain fog, forgetfulness, and mood disorders may be caused by a folate deficiency, which, have always been considered to be common symptoms of aging.
Citicoline The body produces citicoline from choline, and it is another nutrient of which many people have dangerously low levels. Citicoline is important for proper neurotransmitter functionand enhances cognition. It supports the health of mitochondria, the energy-producing part of the cells in your brain.
Citicoline has been proven to help reduce the death of brain cells, improve memory, and strengthen cognitive skills.
Research has found that taking folate and citicoline togethersupercharges their brain-boosting effect.
CoQ10 CoQ10 is one of the best nutrients to reduce neurological inflammation. It is often referred to as the “universal antioxidant,” and it helps produce energy in every cell in your body, particularly those in your heart and your brain.
It is also a nutrient in which many people are deficient. A deficiency of CoQ10 can lead to heart disease, fibromyalgia, neurological disorders and more.
CoQ10 supplementation can protect the heart and brain, improve cholesterol levels, and lower systolic blood pressure. However, you must be careful in the type of CoQ10 you purchase. For the best brain-boosting results, choose a brand that is strongly bioavailable with guaranteed absorption and 24-hour timed release.