The health of your brain is dependent on a wide range of factors including diet, sleep, lifestyle choices, emotions, mood, environmental exposures (pollutants and chemicals, for example) experience processing, and more. As one of the body’s most pliable organs, the brain is so easily influenced by how we lead our lives. When we consider how two people sustaining the same injury can have drastically different healing responses, brain health prior to trauma is a defining factor in how recovery is affected. Any present inflammation in the brain is perilous as it puts the brain in a weakened state, making it extremely vulnerable to further damage. For those with Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, brain health is closely connected.
Unique from the rest of our body, the brain doesn’t necessarily send pain signals when it’s injured. A throbbing knee, broken bone, or a pulled muscle is easy to detect. However an inflamed brain doesn’t hurt like other areas in the body, instead brain inflammation often occurs under a thick veil of brain fog. Anyone suffering from brain fog can tell you how frustrating it is to feel as if you’re losing your mind. Forgetfulness, inability to focus, slow thinking, impaired word retrieval, difficulty communicating thoughts to others, and confusion are all tied to brain fog as a result of inflammation. Other red flags caused by inflammation include neurological disorders,depression, anxiety, and difficulty with memory or attention.
As inflammation presents in the brain, this is usually a sign that inflammation is also occurring in other parts of the body. Hashimoto’s patients should pay close attention to the connection of gut health as it directly affects brain health as well. If you are experiencing symptoms such as bloating, loose stools, stomach sensitivities, constipation, or gas, it is likely that brain inflammation is linked to what’s happening in your digestive tract. Confronting these issues head on can make a positive impact on your health, improve symptoms related to Hashimoto’s, and protect your brain from inflammation or further injury.
Take note of potential factors causing inflammation:
- Leaky Gut
- Unregulated blood sugar levels
- Food sensitivities, particularly gluten and/or dairy
- Poor blood flow & low blood oxygen due to stress, smoking, high/low blood pressure
- Hormonal imbalances
- Exposure to high levels of chemicals or toxins in home or work environment
- Other autoimmune diseases
Boosting your brain health will naturally improve your entire body’s well being. Incorporating nutritious whole foods into your diet nourish cells with the antioxidants needed to reduce inflammation and vitamins needed to repair any damage. Regular exercise helps oxygenate the blood and when done outdoors, can increase levels of vitamin D absorbed from natural sunlight. And finally adequate sleep is one of the best ways to protect the brain. Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night to allow your brain time the time it needs to recuperate, restore itself, and return the body to a state of homeostasis.
Take away points from today’s article:
- Hashimoto’s and brain health are closely related.
- When inflammation occurs elsewhere in the body, it can concurrently cause brain inflammation
- When the brain is already in an inflamed state, it is at increased risk for further complications if injury occurs. Recovery is impaired when inflammation is present.
- Brain inflammation can cause brain fog. Symptoms include forgetfulness, confusion, slow thinking, and attention issues.
- If unmanaged for too long, brain inflammation can lead to more serious disease such as neurological disorders, depression, and anxiety.
- Take steps to protect your brain health by reducing or eliminating inflammatory factors.
- Examine gut health as a direct correlation to brain health.
- Consider other environmental factors, chemical & toxin exposure, hormone levels, blood sugar regulation, physical exercise, and sleep as potential contributors to inflammation.
If you have Hashimoto’s disease and suspect brain inflammation, please contact Dr. Hagmeyer to discuss treatment options. Unmanaged symptoms can lead to serious complications and further brain damage or disease. Together, we can help you find practical ways to adjust dietary and lifestyle choices in order to best support your brain health.