Your brain can become inflamed, like your body can. But not quite in the same way. The brain has something called the “blood brain barrier” to limit toxins and substances from entering. It does an amazing job of only allowing important nutrients to get in, but after injury and damage even this relatively reliable barrier can become unreliable. The brain also protects itself with microglia – the clean-up crew. They migrate into the brain when needed and multiply to release pro-inflammatory chemicals. Their presence can be good or might be bad; the research is not completely clear.
What is clear is that having an autoimmune condition can make you more susceptible to mood disorders. According to a study reported in JAMA Psychiatry, immune responses affect the brain and increase the likelihood of depression or mood changes. Depression has definitely been associated with inflammation markers that are higher. McIntyre, a researcher, says, “It’s unlikely that most people with a mental illness have it as a result of infection,” he says, “but it would be reasonable to hypothesize that a subpopulation of people with depression or bipolar disorder or schizophrenia ended up that way because an infection activated their immune-inflammatory system.”
Scientific research indicates that inflammation is a factor in conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Multiple Sclerosis. Whether it is a cause or a consequence is a bit like the chicken or egg dilemma. Either way, reducing or controlling inflammation in the body and brain is paramount. One study by Brigitte E. Townsend et al shows that eating broccoli could reduce neuroinflammation. Curcumin is also another powerful spice for reducing inflammation, but it must be absorbed and bioavailable. Dr. Galland documents calorie restriction as one of the best preventions against neuroinflammation. He also suggests eating a variety of fruits and vegetables for their flavonoids, carotenoids and other phytonutrients. In addition to eating anti-inflammatory foods, exercise for increased and sustained cognitive function is also recommended.