stop migraine dr deb

Can the ketogenic diet help prevent migraine headaches?

Can the ketogenic diet help prevent migraine headaches?

stop migraine dr deb

Migraine headaches are characterized by recurrent episodes of moderate to severe throbbing pain that are typically associated with nausea, vomiting, along with light and sound sensitivity. Currently, it is estimated that between 12-14% of the population, or over 37 million people in the United States suffer from migraine headaches. Migraines are more common in females of childbearing age. One out of four women will have a migraine sometime during their lives. Despite the fact that it is the 3rd most prevalent and the 6th most disabling illness in the world, there are still very few effective treatment options.

As a headache specialist I am always looking for better treatment options for migraine headaches. For those who know me, know that I prefer conservative treatment options, such as exercise or dietary changes. For the past two years I have been doing research on all the potential neurological benefits of ketones and the ketogenic diet (KD).

The ketogenic diet mimics fasting by restricting the amount of carbohydrates that are eaten. This triggers the break down of fats, producing ketones. Research has shown that ketones have many beneficial effects both for the brain and the body. Specifically, research has shown that ketones decrease inflammation, decrease brain cortical excitability, improves mitochondria function, and decrease the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) thus reducing oxidative stress.

So why would the ketogenic diet or having ketones potentially help with migraine headaches?

Ketogenic diet has been used since the 1920’s for treatment for epilepsy. Many of the same medications are used to treat both conditions. Specifically, the anti-seizure medications, Topamax and Depakote are also used to prevent migraine headaches. Both migraine headaches and seizures involve paroxysmal excitability of the brain. So measures that decrease this excitability may improve both conditions. Ketones have been found to decrease the levels of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. (Stafstrom, C. 2016) Decreasing glutamate levels decreases cortical excitability and decreases central sensitization. Central sensitization is a condition of the nervous system that is associated with the development and maintenance of chronic pain syndromes such as chronic migraine headaches and fibromyalgia.(Pomeror, 2017)

Decreased cortical excitability has also been shown in rat models looking at cortical spreading depression (CSD). CSD is a wave of cortical excitability that is thought to correlate with migraine aura and may be a trigger for the start of a migraine. (Stafstrom, C. 2016) It has been shown that rats treated with a KD had decreased CSD. (Di Lorenzo C. , 2015) Why CSD occurs is unclear but one hypothesis is that it is due to dysfunctional mitochondria. Mitochondria are where the cells produce ATP needed for cellular energy. When the mitochondria are dysfunctional, this lead to decreased ATP production. This decreased ATP then increases the occurrence of CSD and potentially migraines. (Sparaco, 2006) Thus, another reason ketones may be beneficial in preventing migraines is that ketones have been shown to improve mitochondrial function. (Di Lorenzo C. , 2013)

Another reason that ketones or being on the KD would be helpful in prevention of migraines is because of the anti-inflammatory effect of ketones. Neuroinflammation is inflammation medicated by the release of neuropeptides of the nerve fibers in the brain. It is the physiological mechanism of a migraine attacks. Indirect evidence that inflammation is the mediator of a migraine attack is during a migraine attack is based on the increased levels of inflammatory during a migraine and the fact that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often effective treatment for acute migraine headache.(Pietrobon, 2013)

There are several different mechanisms for the anti-inflammatory effects of ketones.   First of all, compared to glucose metabolism, ketone metabolism produces fewer reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS contribute to inflammation. Secondarily, the neurotransmitter Adenosine is increased with the KD. Adenosine has been shown to decreases both central and peripheral inflammatory. (Masino, 2013) (Dupuis, 2016) Lastly, ketones have been shown to block the NLRP3 inflammasome. Activation of NLRP3 inflammasome leads to the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. (Youm, 2015)

So what does this mean clinically? Can the KD or having ketones in your body decrease the frequency of migraine headaches?

The first report of using the KD for migraine was in 1928. That study, 9 of the 28 patients reported some improvement, despite the fact that there was low compliance with the diet. (Stafstrom, 2016) More recently a larger observational study was done in 96 obese females. In this study, the females were randomized to either eat a KD or standard diet (SD) for 1 month. During the month on the ketogenic diet, there was a significant decrease in the frequency of migraine, the number of days with migraine, and medications used to treat migraine headaches. After that month all were transitioned back to a SD, during which their headaches again worsened. (Di Lorenzo C. , 2015) 

headache study

So, if you have migraine headaches, and would like to try something conservative as a means to decreasing the frequencies of your headaches consider starting a ketogenic diet. If starting making this significant dietary changes scares you, consider jumping in the easy way by starting a ketone supplement*. Other benefits that you might notice when you have ketones in your system include fat loss, improved energy, and improved mental focus. When was the last time you heard those ‘side effects’ when discussing medication options for migraines?!?

Bibliography

Di Lorenzo, C. (2013). Diet transiently improves migraine in two twin sisters: possible role of ketogensis. Functional Neurology, 28 (4), 305-308.

Di Lorenzo, C. (2015). Migraine improvement during short lasting ketogenesis: a proof of concept study. European Journal of Neurology, 22, 170-177.

Dupuis, N. P. (2016). Anti-inflammatory Effects of a Ketogenic Diet. In S. Masino (Ed.), Ketogenic Diet and Metabolic Therapies (pp. 147-155).

Masino, S. (2013). Ketogenic Diet and Pian. Journal of Child Neurology, 28 (8), 993-1001.

Pietrobon, D. M. (2013). Patholophysiology of Migraine. Annual Review of Physiology, 75, 365-91.

Pomeror, J. L. (2017). Ketamine Infusion for Treatment Refractory Headache. Headache, 57 (2), 276-282.

Sparaco, M. (2006). Mitochondrial dysfunction and migraine: evidence and hypotheses. Cephalalgia, 361-372.

Stafstrom, C. (2016). Dietary Therapy for Neurolgical Disorders. In S. A. Masino (Ed.), Ketogenic Diet and Metabolic Therapies. Oxford.

Stafstrom, C. (2012). The ketogenic diet as a treatment paradigm for diverse neurological disorders. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 3, 1-8.

Youm, Y.-H. (2015). Ketone body Beta Hydroxybutrate blocks the the NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease. Nature Medicine, 21, 263-269.

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
*These products are not intended to are not intended to diagnose prevent treat or cure any disease. If you are under medical supervision for any allergy, disease, taking prescription medications or you are breastfeeding contact your medical provider before adding any new supplements to your daily regimen.

 

Got ketones drdebbrain

Ketones are the preferred fuel source for our brains

What is Ketosis?

Like most people, I did not know what ketosis was or whether having ketones in the body was a good thing or not. Ketosis by definition is the just the state of having ketones in our body. Since most of us have always eaten a carbohydrate-based diet, which uses glucose as the main fuel for our brains to run on, we did not know there was anything different. However, recently I have done a lot of research and found a huge body literature supporting the multiple benefits of having ketones in our bodies and using it for fuel instead of glucose.

I recently had the honor to listen to Dr. Stephen Cunnane, one of the leading researchers on nutrition and brain development, speak on his research about ketones as fuel for the brain. I have a few take-aways from that talk and from his recent article, published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience that I would like to share to, hopefully, help show that having ketones in our bodies is indeed a good thing

Ketones are the preferred fuel source for the brain

It has been known since the 1960s, that ketones are the alternative fuel source, instead of glucose, for the brain. Dr Cahill at that time showed that the liver would produces ketones when glucose levels were low, as a way of survival during times of fasting or starvation.

The amount of ketones that are taken up into the cells of the brain is directly related to the amount of ketones that are present in the blood. Such that, the more ketones that are present in the blood, the more ketones will be taken up into the brain to be used. This is different than glucose, which is pulled into the brain cells based on the brain’s energy needs. Glucose also requires the presence of insulin to open the door for glucose to get into the cells (which is an issue in some neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Dementia).

In adults, the liver only produces ketones when glucose supplies are low, so ketones and glucose have not been available at the same time. Now that exogenous therapeutic ketones have been developed, your body can actually have ketones present even when glucose is also around. Thus, the body potentially now can have two different fuel sources in the body at the same time. So which one does the brain prefer? Dr Cunnane researched just that question, and with the use of PET scans to show the amount uptake of glucose and ketones in the brain. He found that that amount of glucose utilization in the brain decreases as the availability of ketones to the brain increases. I.e. if the energy needs of the brain are being meet by ketones, glucose uptake decreases. Thus when ketones are around, they are actually the preferred energy substrate for the brain.

Ketones are essential to the developing infant’s brain

Ketones are essential to the developing infant. In the neonatal brain, there is insufficient glucose available to meet the very high-energy needs of the growing brain thus; it must rely heavily on ketones for fuel. Ketones are not only needed as a fuel but they are also the main substrate needed for brain lipid synthesis (brain development). Even after the infant is born the infant’s brain relies on ketones for fuel. Thus, the infant remains in a sustained state of ketosis. This ketosis is not a function of food restriction (or low glucose levels) but is due to the medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that are supplied from the breast milk (and some formulas). The MCFAs are then stored in the infant’s adipose tissue. After breast-feeding ends, the adipose tissues provide will enough fats for ketones to be produced for many months.

So, in summary, being in ketosis is very natural. It is the body’s way to be protective of our brain during times of starvation or fasting. It is also probably also the diet of our ancestors. It is also a very natural state, since we are born in ketosis and with breast milk stay in ketosis through out infancy. Lastly, our brain actually prefers ketones over glucose. Are you ready to see how good your brain feels with it is fueled with ketones?

Got ketones drdebbrain

Bibliography

Cunnane, S. C. (2016). Can Ketones Help Rescue Brain Fuel Supply in Later life? Implications for Cognitive Health during Aging and the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience , 9, 1-21.
The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Ketones as a treatment for seizures

The treatment of recurrent seizures (epilepsy) thru the use of dietary changes, specifically starvation, has been reported since Biblical times. The metabolic benefits of starvation are due to the shift to fat metabolism resulting in ketone body production. Since the ketogenic diet has the same metabolic effects of starvation, it has been used for the treatment of epilepsy first by Dr. Russell M. Wilder from Mayo Clinic, in the 1920s. Dr. Wilder observed a reduction of seizures by 50%. (Keene, 2006)

The diet fell out of favor as anti-seizure medications were developed. Since 1994 there has been a renewed interest in the ketogenic diet after the publicity of a young boy named Charlie who was treated very successfully with the ketogenic diet. He remains seizure free today off medications despite now being off the ketogenic diet.

The anti-epileptic effects of the ketogenic diet have been well studied. It is most commonly used kids with medically intractable seizures. A meta-analysis of the studies that have been preformed since 1990 was published in Pediatric Neurology in 2006. This study found 15.6% of the children who were treated with ketogenic diet for 6 months became seizure free and a third had greater than 50% reduction of seizures. Of significance, is that these patients were intractable, meaning they continued to have frequent seizures despite being on multiple antiepileptic medications before starting the diet.(Keene, 2006) The ketogenic diet is has been shown to be effective for all types of seizure disorders both in kids and adults. What is amazing is that some of the patients treated with ketogenic diet can actually maintain a significant reduction in seizures frequency or remain seizure free even after discontinuing the diet. (Baranano, 2008)

The difficultly with this this treatment is not whether the ketogenic diet works but keeping people compliant with it. It is a very rigid diet composed of eating very high fats (as high as 80- 90% fats) and very low carbohydrates (5%). This requires detailed meal planning, prepping, and weighing of foods. If this is not maintained, such that amount of carbohydrates are increased even a slight amount (such as by eating an half of a banana), they will be kicked out of ketosis. Thus losing the anti-epileptic benefits of the ketones until they get back into ketosis, which may take several days.

The anti-epileptic effect of the ketogenic diet is believed to be from the ketone bodies (beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone) that are produced by the body when on ketogenic diet. Thus the next question is, if giving the ketones exogenously, as an oral ketone supplement, would it have the same benefits as the ketogenic diet? The simple answer to this question is yes.

There have been 3 studies using different animal models of seizures. They have all shown that the use of exogenously given ketone bodies has an anti-epileptic effect. One study looked at preventing grand-mal seizures induced by central nervous system oxygen toxicity. (D’Agostino, 2013) Another looked at rats treated with a pro-convulsant agent PTZ. (Viggiano, 2015) The third study used a mouse model that represents human temporal lobe epilepsy. Importantly, this study also documented that the administration of ketone bodies has a direct positive effect, independent of the hypoglycemia. (Kim, 2015)

The mechanisms underlying the anticonvulsant effects of ketone bodies are not completely clear. Research indicates multiple possible mechanisms including thru the neuro-protective properties of ketones. Ketone bodies also have been shown to decrease the release of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and increase the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Others potential benefits include increasing intracellular ATP levels, decreasing reactive oxygen species, and improvement of mitochondrial function.

For more information of the ketogenic diet check out my other blog posts including potential benefits in Alzheimer’s dementia. For more information on a commercially available exogenous ketone supplement click this link.

Please, if you do want to use the ketogenic diet for treatment of your epilepsy make sure you are under medical supervision and do not stop or alter your anti-epileptic medication without approval of your Neurologist.

Bibliography

Baranano, K. W. (2008). The Ketogenic Diet: Uses in Epilepsy and Other Neurologic Illness. Current Treatment Options Neurology , 10 (6), 410-419.

D’Agostino, D. E. (2013). Theraputic ketosis with ketone esters delays central nervous oxygen toxicity seizures in rats. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol , 304, R829-R836.

Keene, D. (2006). A Systemic Review of the USe of the Ketogenic Diet in Childhood Epilepsy. Pediatruc Neurology (35), 1-5.

Kim, D. Y. (2015). Ketone Bodies Mediate Antiseizure Effects through Mitochondrial Permeability Transition. Annuals of Neurology (78), 77-87.

Stafstrom, C. E. (2012). The ketogenic diet as a treatment paradigm for diverse neurological disorders. Frontiers in Pharmacology , 3, 1-8.

Viggiano, A. D. (2015). Anticonvulsant properties of an oral ketone ester in a pentylenetetrazole-model of seizure. Brain Research , 50-54.

 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Fuel your body with the power of ketones

Ketones are an alternative fuel source for our brain and body.

Our bodies need energy to preform our daily activities. This energy is at the molecular level is called ATP. ATP is produced in the mitochondria of all cells. It however also takes energy to produce ATP. This energy comes from the break down of one of two different fuel sources, glucose or ketones.

  1. Glucose is the broken down to produce ATP by the process called glycolysis
    1. Glucose comes from
      1. Carbohydrates that we eat
      2. The break down of the stored glucose in the form of glycogen
      3. Protein from our diet that break down into amino acids into glycogen then into glucose
  2. Ketones are broken down to produce ATP thru the process called Beta- oxidation
    1. Ketones are formed by the break down of fats.
      1. There are 3 different ketones (ketone bodies):
        1. Acetoacetate
        2. Beta-hydroxybutyrate
        3. Acetone

How can I get into ketosis?

  1. Starvation
  2. Intense exercise
  3. Eating ketogenic diet (70% fats, 20% proteins and 5% carbohydrates)
  4. Adding endogenous ketone supplement

The majority of the US population is currently only fueled by glucose, since the body is not able to tap into the second fuel source of ketones until it has run out of glucose. Our bodies however are designed to use either ketones or glucose as a mechanism to protect our species in times of starvation. Just think about how we lived in the caveman days when there was not any grocery stores or McDonalds on every block.  In the summer and spring when food was plentiful, cavemen would eat more food and pack on and store the extra as fat.  Then in the fall and winter when food was scarce, the cavemen would live off that extra stored fat by switch over from using glucose to ketones as primary fuel source.

The brain actually prefers to use ketones as a fuel when it is available.

There are 3 main reasons why ketones are a better source of energy for your brain.

  1. Ketones produce more ATP than glucose.
  2. Ketones are a cleaner less toxic source of energy since they produce less carbon dioxide and free radicals than when the body uses glucose as a fuel source
  3. Unlike glucose, ketones do not depend on insulin to get into the cells for use.

Are you often fatigued in the middle of the day? Do you have a hard time and need more energy to get thru a busy day at work, a long workout or just for a day of play? If so, instead of reaching for a high calorie candy bar, soda or energy drink, which will cause you to crash in a couple of hours, consider changing your fuel source to ketone based instead of glucose.

 

fuel pump

Benefits of fueling your body with ketones

Why Ketones are a better fuel source than glucose

Where do our bodies get the energy to fuel our activities of daily living? 

Glucose is the main fuel source of our bodies, but there is another type of fuel that is available to our bodies, ketones.  Ketones are a natural by-product of fat metabolism.  When the body has run out of glucose to use as fuel it will switch fuel sources and start converting fat into fatty acids and then into ketones.  Our bodies were designed to use this duel source of energy based on how we lived in the caveman days.  In the summer and spring when food was plentiful, cavemen would eat more food and pack on the extra and store it as fat.  Then in the fall and winter when food was scarce, the cavemen would live off that extra stored fat.   Nowadays, since food supply is plentiful all year around and there is no physiological need or demand to live off the stored fat, thus we may just keep packing it on, all year around.

What are the differences between ketones and glucose as a source of energy?

Research suggests that ketones are a better, cleaner source of energy for the body and actually provide more energy than glucose.  Unlike glucose, ketones do not depend on insulin to get into the cells for use. Ketones produce less carbon dioxide and free radicals than when the body uses glucose as a fuel source thus are less toxic for our body, making it a cleaner fuel source. Unfortunately, ketones are harder energy source for our bodies to tap into since they require your body to be in either a starvation mode or at least be in a state of very low in carbohydrates.  Nowadays, the most common way of getting the body to produce ketones, or be in a state of ketosis, is by being on a very low carb diet i.e. a ketogenic diet.  Typically, a ketogenic diet consists of 5-10% carbohydrates, 20-25% protein and 65-75% fats.  As you can imagine this is not easy to achieve.

For those who do achieve ketosis, the benefits to the body and the brain are impressive.  Here are just a few of the benefits that are suggested by the research:

1) Better Brain Function

As a Neurologist this is the benefit of ketosis I have to list first.  If ketones are available, then they are the preferred fuel for the brain over glucose.  Subjectively, this means improved focus and mental cognition.  Objectively, it has been shown to improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s dementia.  A ketogenic diet has been used for over 80 years in the treatment of difficult to control seizures.  It is also being studied in: Parkinson’s disease, ALS, traumatic brain injury, and hypoxic brain injury.  Ketosis has also been shown to be beneficial in patients with migraine headaches, ADD, PTSD and depression.

2) Better Athletic Performance

Forget carb loading, for better athletic performance.  Ketones are a better energy source for your workouts.  Ketones provides  more ATP (adenosine triphosphate) than glucose.  Subjectively, many people who achieve ketosis report feeling of increased energy levels.  Having more ATP means more energy to workout longer and harder. Objectively, several studies on endurance athletes have shown that athletes who are in ketosis are able to perform at a higher level for a longer period of time.

3) Fat Loss

When your body is in ketosis it is now literally a ‘fat burning machine’.  Without having carbohydrates/glucose around for energy, your body starts releasing stored fat, which then will be turned into ketones for energy. Thus, inches drop off faster than with a low-fat high carb diet because you are actively burning up your stored fat.  Additionally, high fat diet have a protein (muscle) sparing effect so if you are calorie restricted, your body will be protected against breakdown of skeletal muscle as a source of fuel.

4) Improved Diabetes

Diabetes is either due to a decreased insulin production (type 1 diabetes) or insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes). Insulin is required to transport glucose into the cells for use.   In type 1 diabetes, there is not enough insulin around for the amount of glucose in the body. In type 2 diabetes, the cells are ‘resistant’ to the insulin that is around, and the cells are not able to process the glucose. Since all carbohydrates we eat break down into glucose, treatment of diabetes is often focused around lowering the glucose level, thus eating a low carb diet is recommended. Studies in individuals with type 2 diabetes using either, a very low carbohydrate or a ketogenic diet have had impressive results. These studies have showed that the participants were able to decrease or completely withdrawal off of the use of insulin, along with having major weight loss in a matter of just a few weeks. Also, it has been reported that eating a high fat, ketogenic diet can also improve insulin sensitivity, meaning the insulin that is around works better.

5) Less Inflammation

One of the ketones produced by the body is beta-hydroxybutyrate, has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Reports show individuals eating a ketogenic diet have some symptomatic improvement from rheumatoid arthritis, polycystic ovary disease, migraine headaches, eczema, and other conditions caused by inflammatory processes.

If ketosis is so good for you then why isn’t everyone doing it?

Well, first of all, most mainstream nutritionists and the USDA still recommend carbohydrates as a main staple of our diet.  Second, we live in a world that is addicted to carbohydrates.  Thus, most people simply cannot adhere to the strict diet that is required to get into and stay in ketosis through nutritional adjustments of eating so few carbohydrates.

So what if there was a supplement of exogenous ketones that could put you in therapeutic ketosis within an hour, despite your diet, and allow you to potentially to tap into the above-mentioned benefits without having to be on a strict ketogenic diet?  Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?   Luckily, such a supplement was developed under US Department of Defense commissioned research for use in Navy Seal divers to prevent seizures that could occur in association with using high-oxygen re-breathers (oxygen toxicity).   A ketone supplement that was inspired based on that research and has been released for sale to the public.  If you would like more information about this new ketone supplement check it out.

If you would like some help starting a ketogenic diet I would be happy to help.

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Bibliography

Di Lorenzo, C. e. (2015). Migraine improvement during short lasting ketogenesis: a proof-of concept study. European Journal of Neurology (22), 170–177.
D’Agostino, D. P. (2013). Therapeutic ketosis with ketone ester delays central nervous system oxygen toxicity seizures in rats. American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 304, R829–R836.
Paoli, A. E. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (67), 789-796.
Stafstrom, C. R. (2012). The Ketogenic diet as a treatment paradigm for diverse neurological disorders. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 3, 1-8.
Youm, Y. (2015). Ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate blocks the NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease. Nature Medicine, 21 (3), 263–269.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to are not intended to diagnose prevent treat or cure any disease.
The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
inflammation-200

Inflammation And Your Brain

 What is INFLAMMATION and what it is doing to your Brain?

Inflammation is a vital process for the body.  The body uses inflammation to heal itself against something that it thinks is harmful.  You can recognize inflammation as the redness and swelling that occurs when you get a cut or sprain your ankle.  Inflammation also occurs internally when you are sick and the body needs to fight off the infection.  The problem occurs when the inflammation process is in excess to what is needed or becomes chronic meaning that it lasts for a longer time than it should.

It is easy to understand how chronic inflammation can be linked to conditions such as arthritis and autoimmune disorders since typically the treatment is an anti-inflammatory medication.  Chronic inflammation, however, is also linked to many chronic conditions that you might not think of including: coronary artery disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s dementia, multiple sclerosis, along with chronic pain syndromes such as migraines and fibromyalgia.

Chronic inflammation is not just confined to a particular tissue but involves different organs in the body including the brain.  Some signs that you have inflammation in your body are obvious such as joint pain and redness.  The problem, however, is when inflammation occurs throughout your body, the signs of inflammation may not be as obvious. Your body can have chronic inflammation occurring and you don’t even realize it.  Some of the symptoms that have been associated with chronic inflammation include:  fatigue or lethargy, somnolence, brain fog, weakness, anxiety, depression, irritability and headaches.

Why does inflammation cause damage?  Inflammation is a complex biological reaction. Basically, when the body is injured, white blood cells, which are the body’s first responders to a problem, are recruited to the site of damage.  They release chemicals, which are pro-inflammatory including histamines, cytokines (interleuking-6, interleukin-1B and tumor necrosis factor), prostaglandins, and leukotrienes.  These chemicals then cause an activation of pathways that leads to increased free radical production.  When there is an increased free radical production with decreased levels of antioxidants, it leads to oxidation stress.  Oxidative stress causes damage to the cells and proteins.  This damage causes more inflammation, which causes more free radicals and the cycle continues.  Since oxidative tissues and cells do not function normally, this leads to organ dysfunction and chronic health problems.

Causes of Inflammation

  1. Stress
  2. Trauma/injury
  3. Infections
  4. Pollution/toxins such as tobacco smoke
  5. Chemicals including some drugs and artificial sweeteners
  6. Obesity and adipose tissue (especially central fat)
  7. Food allergies and sensitivities (gluten, soy, nuts, shellfish, dairy, egg)
  8. Processed grains and refined carbs i.e. carbohydrates with relatively high glycemic index
  9. Trans-fatty acids and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids that are found in many vegetable oils

So what can we do to prevent or decrease inflammation?

First is to remove any of the things listed above that can be a contribution to inflammation.   This includes removing processed foods, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, high GI carbs along with any food from your diet to which that you are sensitive.   You should also commit to decreasing stress, stop smoking and losing weight (decreasing body fat).

There are foods that have been reported to have natural anti-inflammatory properties including:

  1. Spices Turmeric, Garlic, Cayenne, Cinnamon and Ginger
  2. Foods that are high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables
  3. Food that are high in Omega 3 such as salmon, anchovies, flax seed, walnuts, chia seed and sachi inchi
  4. Food that is high in magnesium including dark greens and quinoa (for other good sources of magnesium click here)
  5. Super foods such as Ashwagandha, reishi mushroom, and holy basil

Ketones or Ketone bodies, specifically B- hydroxybutyrate, have been shown to decrease inflammation in your body.  Ketones including B- hydroxybutyrate are a naturally occurring by-product of burning fat when the body is low in carbohydrates or proteins. Ketosis or the production of ketone bodies occurs if you eat a very low carbohydrate diet such as the ketogenic diet or during times of starvation.   Up until recently this was the only way to feel the benefits of ketones, an alternative fuel source for the body.  Just in the last year a supplement became available that contains the ketone body, B- hydroxybutyrate.  When the supplement is taken, it will put your body into a state of ketosis in just 60 minutes, no matter how many carbohydrates you have eaten.

Exercise is also a great way to decrease inflammation. Exercise can  decrease stress and obesity which then can decrease inflammation.  Additionally, exercise directly lowers inflammatory cytokines. Population studies have shown that people who preform more frequent physical activity have lower levels of inflammatory cytokines, even after adjusting for obesity (BMI).  Lastly, there is also positive data from randomized controlled trials showing that increasing aerobic physical activity is effective in decreasing chronic inflammation.

In summary, if we don’t want inflammation and all the consequences of inflammation, we have to be more committed to more healthy living.  Including watching what we eat and what we should not eat, along with starting a regular exercise program. You and your brain deserve it.

inflammation

Bibliography

Beavers, K. M. (2010). Effect of exercise training on chronic inflammation. Clinica Chimica Acta , 411, 785-793.

Gabay, C. M. (1999). Acute-Phase Proteins and other Systemic Responses to Inflammation. New England Journal of Medicine , 340 (6), 448-454.

Galland, L. M. (2010). Diet and Inflammation. Nutrition in Clinical Practice , 35 (6), 634-640.

Hunt, K. J. (2010). Inflammation in Aging Part 1: Physiology and Immunological Mechanisms. Biological Research for Nursing , 11 (3), 245-252.

Lucas, S.-M. e. (2006). The role of inflammation in CNS injury and disease. British Journal of Pharmacology , 147, S232-240.

Morgillo, F. e. (2007). Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in human carcinogensis. Internation Journal of Cancer , 121 (11), 2381-2386.

Youm, Yun-Hee. (2015). Ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate blocks the NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease. Nature Medicine, 21 (3), 263-269.

This site is purely informative and should not be considered medical advice. It is not intended to be used to diagnosis or treat any disease.  Please consult your physician before starting any fitness program or new supplement.