The Inflamed Mind
Did anyone hear this radio programme on August 24th at 9pm on radio 4?
There were some interesting points raised about the connection with mental health and the presence of inflammatory markers in the body. Research is showing that people suffering with depression or other mental healthy disorders frequently have significantly raised levels of inflammation. Indeed, this is not new and research has been done on this over the last 20 years or so. Nevertheless, it is good to see it in the mainstream media and what is new is that a protocol for depression or psychosis may now include a drug to dampen the immune system and dampen inflammation.
I am not against drugs when needed, but as I was listening to the radio programme last night, I couldn’t help but feel sad that the majority of those affected will get no real lifestyle advice, no advice on which foods or herbs and spices could be added to our daily diet to help decrease inflammation. Just take this pill and carry on doing everything else the same, when such a lot could benefit these individuals, potentially in addition to medication or in some cases, as an alternative option.
Here are my top ten inflammation busting tips.
- Decrease sugar, refined carbs and alcohol. These cause insulin surges, which results in more inflammatory markers. We know that too many fat cells also cause inflammation and insulin encourages weight gain.
- Find out if you are intolerant to anything. Gluten can be inflammatory, so can dairy and anything you react to will produce inflammatory cytokines. I organise effective testing for intolerances.
- Manage your stress levels. Cortisol is a hormone we produce when stressed, and too much encourages inflammation. Minimising sugar, and having more magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin C can help combat symptoms of stress. Finding down time is vital. I also organise cortisol tests, as mentioned on the radio programme.
- Sleep enough. Yes, I’m a nutritionist, but you could be having the best foods in the world, and if you are constantly in sleep deficit, your inflammatory markers will be higher. Enough is 7 to 8 hours for most people, not 5 or 6.
- Have good quality omega 3 oils from oily fish, such as mackerel or wild or organic salmon. Have 2 or 3 times a week.
- Include turmeric in your diet, either fresh or powdered. Fresh is amazing grated onto salads or added to smoothies in chunks. Have as often as possible.
- Garlic and ginger are potent anti-inflammatories. Add fresh ginger to porridge, smoothies and teas. Make a pesto with raw garlic, basil, nuts and olive oil.
- Get 8 portions of veg in. The antioxidants found in these wonderful foods, help quench free radicals which can contribute to inflammation.
- Use a herb such as rosehip, which I love for bringing down inflammation. I use an amazing supplement for this, or source the herb from a reputable supplier.
- Know what your vitamin D scores are. Vitamin D is an immune modulator meaning it can help dampen down an inflammation causing overworking immune system. Test with your GP or ask me.
There are plenty more little hints and research I could mention, including considering your gut health, which I will do a whole post on soon, but 10 is enough for one reading. If it is being proven that mental health is linked to inflammatory markers sometimes, then we need to do what we can to reduce the inflammation within our lifestyles.