AUTOIMMUNITY AND BRAIN

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Many of my patients tell me that their brains are not functioning the way they’d like them to function. Usually the conversation goes something like this:
“Doctor, my brain is not as rapid fire as it was before” Or
“I feel my thoughts are going through Jell-O” Or
“I have brain fog”. The last is the commonest that i hear.
A large part of my medical practice in India involves taking care of people with Autoimmune Conditions.
“Brain fog” is not a medical condition but usually represents symptoms of
  • Loss of focus
  • Occasional memory lapses
  • Lack of clarity in thinking
  • Difficulty concentrating

(I will not discuss Autoimmune diseases of the brain in this post)

What is the connection between Autoimmunity and “Brain Fog”?

Studies have shown the association between many Autoimmune Conditions and cognitive decline. Some of the conditions are
  • SLE (Lupus)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Sjogren’s Sundrome
  • Celiac Disease
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (Hypothyroidism).And many more.

What is the common thread running through them?

​​​​​​​All these autoimmune conditions are related to a higher level of chronic inflammation and immune system dysfunction. They are also related to a gut barrier dysfunction or “leaky gut”. In fact you may often find Functional Medicine practitioners talk about “Leaky Membrane Disease”. This is not a separate disease entity but a situation where there is “leaky gut”, “Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB)” and “Leaky Endothelium (the cell lining of blood vessels)”

What can you do?

Avoid sugar and all its multiple sweetener friends too! Sugar is highly inflammatory. More importantly, sugar and many of its substitutes increase your insulin levels. High insulin is associated with a whole host of illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, hypertension and many more.

Consider eating lower amount of carbohydrate than you are eating at present. (Unless you are already eating low-carb! )

Enrich your food with good quality healthy fat. Think coconut, coconut oil, fish, avocado, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, ghee.

Consider anti-inflammatory food. Essentially this means eating real food, eating food as nature made them.

Avoid processed food.

Stop eating gluten containing food. (This doesn’t mean you start eating gluten-free processed sugar-laden food !)

Sleep well. Maintain regular sleep times. Avoid watching TV or using backlit devices (mobiles, laptops, e-readers) nearer to bedtime. Reduce your exposure to harsh ambient light. No TV or charging devices in the bedroom!

Dysregulated sleep , sleeping for less than 7-8 hours , disrupts your body’s biological clock —your circadian rhythm.

Eat food during time restricted windows. or consider intermittent fasting.

Manage stress. Try Mindfulness practice, meditation, practice gratitude. Use expressive writing.