The Hidden Cause of Depression, Alzheimer’s and Memory Loss Could Be Rooted In Brain Inflammation

Chronic brain inflammation may be linked to depression and other cognitive and mental health problems. Specific anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes can help.Inflammation is your body’s first

line of defense against infection and injury.This process normally shuts down after healing occurs. But trouble can arise when the inflammation process gets stuck “on” and doesn’t know when to

stop.Then inflammation can turn on your body, attacking healthy cells, blood vessels, and tissues instead of protecting them. This is called chronic or systemic inflammation.You can develop

chronic inflammation anywhere in the body — including the brain. Unlike the inflammation of an injury or arthritis, brain inflammation doesn’t cause pain since the brain has no pain receptors.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not there, causing hidden damage to your most vital organ.

The Hidden Cause of Depression, Alzheimer’s and Memory Loss Could Be Rooted In Brain Inflammation

Symptoms of Chronic Brain Inflammation

While acute inflammation is triggered by injury or pathogens, chronic inflammation is largely caused by unhealthy lifestyle habits that continue to fuel the inflammation response long after it stopped being helpful in healing.

Chronic inflammation can lead to all sorts of seemingly unrelated problems including allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, chronic infections, colitis, dermatitis, sinusitis, arthritis, and any other health condition that ends in “itis.” It’s been dubbed a silent killer since it contributes to seven of the top ten leading causes of death.

Inflammation shuts down energy production in brain cells, causing mental fatigue and slowing down the firing of neurons.

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This can lead to symptoms such as brain fog, lack of mental clarity, ADHD, anxiety, depression,memory loss, and slow mental processing as well as serious neurological diseases such as stroke and Alzheimer’s.  There’s a growing body of evidence that it also causes depression. Some experts believe depression may not be a disease, but rather a symptom of inflammation.

Chronic Inflammation: A Surprising Cause of Depression

The medical community largely believes that depression is caused by low levels of “feel good” brain chemicals, usually serotonin and sometimes dopamine.But this is only a theory — albeit a very

widely held one!Millions of people are prescribed antidepressants based on this brain chemical model of depression.However, they work in less than half of those who take them making them no

more effective than a placebo.There’s another theory that purports that brain inflammation is the root cause of depression.This is called the “cytokine model of depression.”

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This theory is not new but it’s been overshadowed by the neurotransmitter imbalance theory of depression.Cytokines are immune system messengers.Some damp down inflammation while others

fuel it.It’s been known since the 1980s that inflammatory cytokines activate inflammation in the brain, destroying tissue and altering brain function. They contribute to severe lethargy, impaired

memory and attention, slowed responses, anorexia, lack of interest, irritability, depression, anxiety, memory loss, inability to focus, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and increased risk of

suicide. The most popular antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are thought to work by increasing serotonin levels, but there’s evidence that they may be anti-

inflammatory.Ironically, it may be their anti-inflammatory properties — and not their ability to increase serotonin — that ultimately turns out to be the real reason these drugs work for many.

Your Brain’s Immune System

A little-known fact about the brain is that it has its own immune system. Microglia are immune cells in the brain that are your central nervous system’s first and main line of defense.  Their job is

to protect the brain and spinal cord from pathogens and to clear away metabolic debris, such as the beta amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. By weight, the brain is

comprised of 50% microglia cells. Once a microglia cell is activated, it creates inflammation for the rest of its lifespan. These cells have no “on” or “off” switch.

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Additionally, they cause a domino effect of further inflammation by stimulating other microglia to become active. There are many health and lifestyle factors that increase the risk of activating

your microglia to produce brain inflammation:

high carbohydrate diet


lack of exercise

chronic stress

heart disease


head trauma

gluten (for those with gluten sensitivity)

substance abuse

exposure to environmental toxins

exposure to perfumes and other inhalant chemicals

digestive disorders

vitamin B deficiency

systemic inflammation

compromised blood-brain barrier

According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, author of Why Isn’t My Brain Working?, a compromised blood-brain barrier is one of the greatest risk factors for brain inflammation. The blood-brain barrier is

a finely woven mesh of specialized cells and blood vessels that’s there to keep foreign substances out of the brain. But it can become damaged which makes it “leaky.” This allows

toxins and pathogens to enter which in turn activates the microglia to produce inflammation. This barrier permeability also allows inflammation that originates elsewhere in the body to enter the

brain and start the inflammation response there.

Natural Ways to Control Brain Inflammation

Inflammation is not an all-or-nothing state, but a continuum. You won’t be able to get rid of all inflammation nor should you even try since some inflammatory activity is essential. But

you do want to minimize inflammation once it’s gotten out of control and its effects have become counterproductive. Here are the best natural ways to get chronic inflammation under control.

Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

The foods you eat can either increase or decrease inflammation. Here’s how to eat more anti-inflammatory foods and minimize pro-inflammatory ones.

Give Your Brain an Oil Change

One of the simplest dietary changes you can make is cutting back on pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils such as canola, soy, corn, and safflower oil.

Switch to extra virgin olive oil and organic coconut oil which contain anti-inflammatory properties instead.

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Increase anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids by eating cold-water, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines.

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Stick with wild-caught fish which have more omega-3s than farm-raised.

Also choose grass-fed and pasture-fed meat, poultry, and eggs over grain-fed as these contain more omega-3s and fewer inflammatory omega-6s than their mass-produced counterparts.

Eliminate Processed Carbohydrates That Contain Sugar and Wheat

White sugar consumption not only increases brain inflammation, it interferes with brain cell communication, slows thinking, and eventually causes damage and death to brain cells. Chronic high

blood glucose levels are linked to Alzheimer’s which some experts believe is a type of diabetes of the brain.  Instead of sugar, use honey in moderation since it is anti-inflammatory, antibiotic,

antiviral, and antiseptic. And unlike white sugar, it contains some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Wheat products in your diet may harm your brain in a couple of ways.

If you are among the millions with a gluten sensitivity, eliminating wheat is essential to reduce inflammation in both your gut and your brain.

✓Gluten-Free Foods 

But even if you think you have no problem with gluten, you should still minimize wheat consumption. Here’s why. It may surprise you to know that wheat (with a glycemic index score of 71) raises

your blood sugar levels even more than white sugar (glycemic index score of 59).  Two slices of whole wheat toast raise your blood sugar levels more than eating a candy bar.

Remember that there is nothing “whole grain” about whole wheat unless you are eating unprocessed wheat berries.