inflammation dr austin

The Inflammation and Dementia Link

By Ruthie Harper, MD | Austin, TX

Inflammation has been linked to a number of physical and cognitive health issues, but new research is showing that it could play a bigger role in dementia than previously thought.  

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge recently conducted a study analyzing postmortem brain tissue from more than 200 people who had suffered from various forms of dementia. The findings, published in the journal Brain, indicate that inflammation could be a significant underlying cause of some forms of dementia. This breakthrough has implications for how we think about and treat dementia.  

Measuring Inflammation in the Body

Fortunately, blood tests are an easy and reliable way to measure levels of inflammation in the body. By measuring proteins and other markers related to inflammation, physicians can assess if a person has an underlying condition that could be causing inflammation. This can be especially useful in cases where inflammation is thought to be contributing to dementia.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is an important biomarker used to accurately measure inflammation in people with dementia. CRP is produced by the liver and its levels increase when inflammation is present. This protein can be tested through a simple blood test, which allows healthcare professionals to accurately assess the level of inflammation present in individuals with signs of dementia. 

Reducing Inflammation in the Body

The good news is that there are ways to reduce inflammation in the body including foods, supplements and lifestyle changes that reduce inflammation and protect against dementia. Studies have shown that inflammation in patients with dementia was reduced by 10% through increased physical activity and use of foods and supplements packed with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds.

Whole grains, nuts and seeds contain high levels of vitamins and minerals that combat inflammation. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables like blueberries, strawberries, oranges, spinach, kale, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants which also protect the brain by reducing inflammation in the body. 

Nutritional supplements that reduce inflammation can also be a valuable tool in the fight against dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in small fresh water fish, are a popular choice for reducing inflammation and providing beneficial effects on cognitive health. Vitamins essential for managing inflammation and reducing the risk of dementia include vitamin C, D, E, B6 and B12.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to reduce oxidative stress in the body, while Vitamin D is important for regulating the immune system and preventing inflammation. Vitamin E helps to protect cell membranes and B vitamins are essential for nerve condition in the brain. Studies have also shown that flavonoids, anthocyanins, and anti-inflammatory supplements like curcumin and turmeric can have a positive impact on reducing inflammation throughout the body which protects the brain.  

Physical activity is also an essential part of reducing inflammation and managing dementia. Regular exercise helps to improve blood circulation, reduce stress hormones, and boost the immune system which can all help to reduce inflammation in the body. Research has found that aerobic exercise, walking or jogging, dancing, swimming, strength training, and stretching can all be beneficial for reducing inflammation. 

By using supplements packed with antioxidants and increasing physical activity to manage CRP levels, researchers have seen an average 10% decrease in inflammatory achieved over a 4-week period.  

Diet and Inflammation

When considering ways to prevent or limit the progression of dementia, eating a diet full of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, avoiding smoking, and reducing stress are all important lifestyle factors that can reduce inflammation in our bodies, and this can have positive effects on brain health.

By making wise choices that reduce inflammation, we can start to make progress in both preventing and fighting dementia and improving the quality of life for those affected by it. We can then make a real difference in tackling dementia and improving the quality of life for many people around the world.  

Researching Inflammation and Dementia

Since inflammation has a major impact on cognitive decline, it is crucial that further research and development continue in this area. With continued collaborative efforts from researchers and clinicians we can make real progress in the fight against dementia and improve the lives of those suffering from it. It is likely that we are just scratching the surface of this area, and there remain many questions to answer and solutions to develop.  

The next step is to continue conducting research on inflammation and dementia so that we can develop better treatments and therapies that are more targeted towards preventing and reducing inflammation. We must remain committed to finding new ways to address this growing health problem. Only through continued research and dedication can we make a difference in the fight against dementia. This breakthrough gives us hope for a brighter future.  

A better understanding of how inflammation affects dementia could lead to life-changing treatments and therapies for those affected. With continued dedication, we can make a real difference in tackling dementia and improving the quality of life for people worldwide.  

Inflammation & Integrative Medicine | Austin

 ‍At Ruthie Harper MD, our practice takes an integrative or complementary approach to medicine that considers the whole person, including their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. We offer a personalized approach to healthcare that treats the whole person rather than just their physical symptoms.

Unlike traditional medicine, which often relies on the use of pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures to treat symptoms, integrative medicine encourages individuals to take control of their health and wellness by promoting natural solutions that incorporate lifestyle changes, nutrition, and complementary therapies.

As a board-certified internist, Ruthie Harper MD combines the best of conventional Western medicine with alternative therapies, allowing patients to receive a tailored treatment plan that addresses their individual needs. By asking the “why” of symptoms and disease rather than simply the “what disease do you have” we are able to get to the root cause of your problems and achieve better overall health outcomes with reduced side effects.

Our goal for each patient is to provide a more customized and effective approach to healthcare that can improve the quality of life for all individuals.