Hey, where did I put my keys?
Now why did I walk into this room?
What was your name again?
As much as we might laugh this off as “getting older” these are not just senior moments or a part of the natural aging, this is a sign of Neuroinflammation. Symptoms of brain fog and fatigue, forgetfulness and confusion can all be signs that your brain is inflamed which is a scary thought to us all, but rest assured it can be reversed if caught early enough and is key to keeping us feeling healthy and vibrant as we age.
Neuroinflammation happens when our Central Nervous System, CNS (brain and spinal cord) starts to dysregulate in a chronic situation in response to brain injury. Although our brain has a natural process in dealing with “injury” it can get out of control under a chronic inflammatory situation. Here’s a quick explanation.
The brain produces cytokines in response to injury or injection and they then recruit microglia to “prune” and clear the injury or infection. At this point there is no peripheral immune response and is a normal way for our brain to heal. However, with chronic injury or infections our Blood Brain Barrier, BBB gets compromised (causing leaky brain) and then microglia cells will generate reactive oxygen species, and this releases signals to recruit the peripheral immune cells for an inflammatory response. As a result, our inflammatory cytokines (which include Interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-1 beta) will induce neuronal cytotoxicity causing cell death and more tissue damage and inflammation. As you can imagine this becomes a vicious cycle that gets out of control and leads to major trouble for you and your brain.
Identifying possible triggers for Neuroinflammation are key to helping you know how to avoid them and work to correct them!
Triggers that induces this process include but are not limited to; environmental toxins, poor diet high, physical inactivity, hormonal imbalances, psychosocial stressors, obesity, smoking, altered gut permeability and infections, dental infections, sleep deprivation, lack of anti-oxidants, and nutritional deficiencies. Let’s dive into these a little more so you have a better idea as to why they are triggers and damaging.
Toxic Heavy metals especially Antimony present in Fire Retardants, Aluminum and Mercury. Please stop eating large fish- methyl mercury is especially toxic for brain as methyl mercury binds to the cerebellum and damages the BBB.
Non-heavy metal toxins such as glyphosates in “GMO foods” which is fertilized with Roundup
Mold exposure causing mycotoxins leading to Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
Xenobiotic (see September Newsletter) residues bind to human tissue forming new antigens to attach the chemicals or toxins and then the tissues become target for auto immunity causing neurological diseases and inflammation
Organophosphates (sprayed on many of our foods that are not organic)
BPA free is not safe- these plastics have molecules for BPB and C which are similar to BPA and are just as bad - so no plastics!!
FYI- Autistic children have 15x more BPA (or B and C) bound to tissues which is a target for Auto-Immunity. The mother gets exposed to plastics which get transferred in uterine and through breast feeding and then they disrupt the gut and brain- causing toxicity and more food sensitivities.
*Poor diet – especially dairy “casein” & grains and refined sugars– a great read is “Grain Brain” by Dr. Perlmutter , MD as well as his Better Brain book. (I have not read the latter, but truly respect the author)
Foods high in Lectins
Food additives such as meat glue and food colorings
Foods high in Monosodium Glutatmate “MSG” which is excitotoxic and cause neurotoxicity and cell death. Read/listen to Dr. Blaylock on MSG, Aspartame for more information. Also, you must look for hidden sources as they are not usually labeled MSG anymore- Hidden Sources of MSG article :
*Physical activity -Exercise is not a luxury it is a necessity as it strongly affects the microglial and dendritic pruning affecting inflammation
*Stress- increases cortisol and inflammation in a chronic state so once again I am reminding you to find ways of reducing your stress. Meditation is an excellent way to reduce stress and retrain the neuropathways.
*Obesity- relates to increased blood sugar from a poor diet but also increased insulin to respond to the sugar demands and actually creates its own cytokine activity which is inflammatory.
*Smoking – chemicals, toxins and reactive oxygen species – need I say more
*Gut impermeability - “leaky gut”, gut infections and lack of proper enzymes.
*Systemic Infections- such as Lyme, Epstein Barr Virus, Cytomegalovirus, Herpes viruses (HSV I and II and HHV-6)
*Dental infections - gateway to our blood stream and can open tight junctions causing “leaky” brain and gut
*Sleep deprivation -has been studied as increasing those pro-inflammatory cytokines, especially the Il-6
*Low anti-oxidants – see below for top 4 nutrients and antioxidants needed. The Reactive Oxygen Species can be offset but a high anti-oxidant rich diet
*Nutritional deficiency – Causes low ATP “energy” stores could inhibit the process of pumping glutamate back into the migroglial cells and neurons increasing the risk of neurotoxicity and inflammation.
Once you reduce your exposure and clean up your lifestyle, you can also consider adding more support by incorporating nutrients that have been studied to support your brain. Here are the top 4 brain nutrients that have been studied to help reduce brain inflammation and prevent disease!
Our brain is fat and needs fat soluble nutrients to cross the blood brain barrier to get to where they need to go! As always, I only recommend 100% pure pharmaceutical grade supplements for potency, purity and regulation.
Alpha Lipoic Acid “ALA”
A fat and water-soluble nutrient that regulates blood sugar, anti-oxidant, is a Heavy Metal chelator (iron, copper, cadmium), helps sprouts new nerve fibers, recycles Vitamin E (studied to prevent Alzheimer’s), strengthens memory and prevents brain aging
Unfortunately, ALA Is poorly available in food sources, so supplementation is recommended. There are some foods that have ALA in small amounts; spinach, broccoli, yams, potatoes, yeast, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and rice bran. Red meat -particularly organ meat.
Recommended at least 100mg daily for brain support (increases depending on other uses and can be taken safely up to 600mg per day.
R Lipoic may be more bio-available so best for advanced cases otherwise standard delivery is okay. The best companies are Xymogen, Orthomolecular products, Thorne, Biotics, Quicksilver Scientific or Life Extension
Coenzyme 10 “CoQ10” as Ubiquinone or Ubiquinol
A Fat soluble- nutrient found in foods and made in many tissues of body but declines as we age, especially after the age of 50. This nutrient is a power house of an antioxidant, it helps with cellular energy, also recycles Vitamin E (studied to prevent Alzheimer’s). CoQ10 also helps thyroid transport into the cell “energy enhancer” and supports heart function and hypertension.
Food sources include; Cold water fish, like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, Vegetable oils, Meats
Recommended at least 100mg starting to 300mg as a typical dose for brain support.
Ubiquinol is more bioavailable so best for advanced cases but ubiquinone is sufficient for most people.
B Vitamins are needed to make CoQ 10
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) high in Omega 3’s come from Flax, chia seeds, fish and even algae. The essential fatty acids that are key for reducing inflammation are; alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
DHA is particularly critical for the brain’s structure and function as well as protecting from inflammation. DHA stimulates physical changes by promoting growth of neurons for better processing and memory, healing after brain tissue injury and prevention and reduction of progression with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
Recommended intake for adults is to have a combination of equal DHA and EPA to protect the brain, heart, joints as well. Dose is about 1000-2000mg per day
Children can supplement with just DHA
You can support with food sources such as Flax and Chia seeds to to get ALA and if you are a vegetarian Algae oil has also been studied to be effective as well.
Freshwater, wild caught Salmon is an excellent source of omega 3’s !
FYI there are advanced functional tests we can do to test your Omega 3, 6 ,9 status as the balance between these are critical for health and inflammation.
We need to keep the integrity of our blood brain barrier functioning optimally by stabilizing our cell membrane with fats. We are “fat” heads as they say! If we destabilize our membrane we have decreased focus and memory. Phospholipids can be very healing to the brain by returning the lipid layer to its natural state.
One amazing tool is Phosphatidylcholine, PC.
PC is a Lippolysaccarides and is an essential part of cell membrane
Choline rich foods are; egg yolks, organic soybeans, Sunflower seeds, nuts, organ meats and whole grains.
I have seen remarkable success using IV PC in our practice with memory and focus.
You can also supplement using oral replacement of about 1000-5,000mg per daily. You can order directly from Body Bio for an excellent product.
Incorporating Median Chain Triglycerides -MCT oil (similar to coconut oil but more concentrated) or even trying out a Ketogenic diet can be very helpful for the brain as well.
I am also prescribing a cutting edge compounded medication called RG3 spray (developed by one of my favorite professors Dr. Jim LaValle) which is Ginseng and B12 that is inhaled intranasally and has shown amazing improvements in Neuroinflammation - RG3 Article: https://tccompound.com/product/synapsin/
Other nutrients to consider include; Curcumin, Green Tea and Vitamin C, E, D, A optimization.
Inflammation as it correlates to Auto Immune disease
According to Immunologist Dr. Aristo Vojdani - The process of a “leaky brain” and “leaky gut” increases Auto-Immune disease. (53 Million Americans and twice as many women than men)
Because this is a pervasive problem keeping our gut and brain healthy is imperative as it can prevent and reverse auto-immune disease as well. An excellent read is ‘Environmental Triggers and Auto Immunity ‘ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290643/
And Potential Link between Environmental Triggers and Autoimmunity https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ad/2014/437231/
A company that Dr. Vojdani owns is Cyrex Lab where there are Array’s (tests) that help us identify food sensitivities, auto immune disease risks, intestinal impermeability to name a few. We have kits here at BIH if you are interested in testing https://www.cyrexlabs.com/CyrexTestsArrays/tabid/136/Default.aspx Relating to Autoimmune disease- pay special attention to Array 5 and 11
Yours in health, Carrie Ballas