I’ve seen so much new research confirming what our experts explained in the docuseries: inflammation is a killer.
In anticipation of the World Release of the docuseries in January 2018, I wanted to share some of this research with you. Every Tuesday, for the next few weeks, I’ll share some big insights on how we can protect our brains from the damaging effects of this modern world.
Let’s talk a little more about inflammation.
Inflammation—we’ve all heard of it, and after the Broken Brain docu-series, we know just how damaging it can be to the whole body, especially the brain.
Inflammation is our body’s natural defense system. When your body senses foreign invaders, a specific cascade of events is set off, in which your white blood cells and some special chemicals called cytokines mobilize to protect you.
This normal type of inflammation is a good thing. It helps your body protect and heal itself. However, when your immune system shifts out of balance, inflammation can run rampant—causing a chronic, smoldering fire inside your body that contributes to disease and weight gain.
The causes of this type of inflammation are all around you. The sugar you eat, high doses of the wrong oils and fats in your diet, hidden food allergens, lack of exercise, chronic stress, and hidden infections all trigger a raging, unseen inflammation deep in your cells and tissues.
And this inflammation leads to every one of the major chronic diseases of aging—heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and more.
A recent study published in Neurology, looked at inflammatory markers of 1,633 middle-aged (average age of 53) participants. After twenty-four years, they used an M.R.I. and a memorization task to test memory and brain volume of the participants. What they found was that, “Compared to participants with no elevated midlife inflammatory markers, participants with elevations in three or more markers had, on average, 5% smaller hippocampal and Alzheimer disease signature region volumes.”
Participants who had higher levels of inflammation in midlife also performed poorly on the memory task compared to individuals who did not have elevated inflammatory markers.
What does this mean? It means that inflammation can wreak havoc for years, and it’s not to be taken lightly. If you are dealing with systemic inflammation, it becomes critical to cool the fire within to prevent the cascade of damaging events that can occur from hidden inflammation.
In Broken Brain, we present an outline for tackling inflammation, which I consider to be the root cause of most disease. Today, I want to present you with the first two steps to reducing inflammation in the body.
- Drop sugar, or at least reduce it. There is no question that sugar causes inflammation. In fact, it might be the number one source of inflammation. Sugar in all its forms is the root cause of our obesity epidemic and most of the chronic disease sucking the life out of our citizens and our economy—and, increasingly, the rest of the world. I like to have a sweet treat once in awhile, but sugar is not part of my day-to-day diet. This means ditching all forms of sugar including artificial sweeteners.
- Reduce stress. We are just beginning to understand the full affects that stress has on the body. It ain’t pretty. Chronic stress has become an epidemic in our society where faster is better and we attempt to pack more obligations into our ever-expanding schedules. Managing stress is absolutely critical if we want to stop inflammation from taking over our bodies. Find a way to reduce stress. For me that means, meditation, yoga, massage, connecting with loved ones, and making time to cook healthy meals. Learn how to actively relax. Your life depends on it.
If you can do just two things today to start to reduce inflammation, ditching sugar and managing stress are great steps. Less inflammation = a better brain.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD