While the two best-known signs of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are amyloid beta plaques and tau protein tangles, chronic inflammation is also a feature of AD. Inflammation is the body’s defense response and involves clearance of toxic pathogens, damaged cells, and harmful irritants from the body.
Sometimes, inflammation can be beneficial – for example if you develop a viral infection or if you have an injury, inflammation is involved in the healing response. In a perfect setting, pro-inflammatory molecules are released when needed and turned off when the threat has been sufficiently addressed. However, inflammation can become a problem when pro-inflammatory molecules continue to be present in the body even when they are not needed, which results in chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation continuously draws on the body’s energy and resources, results in bodily damage over time, and triggers several severe disease conditions, including AD.
Since the late 1980s, various studies have found that chronic inflammation accelerates the AD process, and may even trigger the disease. For example, a history of serious head injury, which typically causes brain inflammation, is known to be a risk factor for AD. Systemic infections – another cause of inflammation – also appear to accelerate the disease. Some researchers also believe that inflammation helps to start the AD process by boosting the production of amyloid beta or tau tangles—and then reduces the brain’s ability to remove them. Research on the role of anti-inflammatory drugs—ibuprofen, naproxen, and celecoxib, for example – has failed to show signs of helping people who already have AD or early cognitive impairment. In some cases these drugs apparently accelerated the course of the disease.
A number of diet changes, lifestyle habits, and supplements can reduce the amount of inflammation in the body, which can help reduce the risk and progression of AD. As part of Affirmativhealth’s RE:mind program, comprehensive lab work is completed to determine if chronic inflammation is present and then personalized interventions are developed to bring levels of inflammation down. For more information on how you can receive your own RE:mind Personalized Therapeutic Plan, visit our website at www.affirmativhealth.com.