If you were going to focus on only 1 thing to improve your brain function, you should reduce inflammation.
When markers of low-grade inflammation and endothelial dysfunction were tested in participants between the age of 67 and 79, the study showed that both low-grade inflammation and endothelial dysfunction contributed to reduced information processing speed and executive function (Heringa SM, et.al., 2014).
The endothelium is the inner lining of the blood vessels.
Inflammation affects brain volume.
Lower performance on recognition memory and smaller left medial temporal lobe volumes (a part of the brain) was found in participants with detectable levels of the inflammatory marker CRP, when compared with those with undetectable CRP levels (Bettcher BM, et.al. 2012).
Mild cognitive impairment has been associated with increased levels of several inflammatory markers (Trollor JN, et.al., 2010).
The inflammatory marker hs-CRP which is a more sensitive marker of inflammation than the regular CRP is especially important both as a cardiovascular risk factor and also an important factor related to brain function.
Even at the age of 63, it was found that women in this study with higher hs-CRP levels had worse performance in executive function (Wersching H, et.al., 2010). Changes in the brain were also observed.
High hs-CRP has been found to predict poorer memory 12 years later in women between 60 and 70 years of age (Komulainen P, et.al., 2007).
The earlier you adopt a lifestyle and eating habits that will reduce low-grade inflammation, the better off you will be.
1. Heringa, S. M., Van den Berg, E., Reijmer, Y. D., Nijpels, G., Stehouwer, C. D. A., Schalkwijk, C. G., … & Dekker, J. M. (2014). Markers of low-grade inflammation and endothelial dysfunction are related to reduced information processing speed and executive functioning in an older population–the Hoorn Study. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 40, 108-118.
2. Bettcher, B. M., Wilheim, R., Rigby, T., Green, R., Miller, J. W., Racine, C. A., … & Kramer, J. H. (2012). C-reactive protein is related to memory and medial temporal brain volume in older adults. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 26(1), 103-108.
3. Trollor, J. N., Smith, E., Baune, B. T., Kochan, N. A., Campbell, L., Samaras, K., … & Sachdev, P. (2010). Systemic inflammation is associated with MCI and its subtypes: the Sydney Memory and Aging Study. Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders, 30(6), 569-578.
4. Wersching, H., Duning, T., Lohmann, H., Mohammadi, S., Stehling, C., Fobker, M., … & Deppe, M. (2010). Serum C-reactive protein is linked to cerebral microstructural integrity and cognitive function. Neurology, 74(13), 1022-1029.
5. Komulainen, P., Lakka, T. A., Kivipelto, M., Hassinen, M., Penttilä, I. M., Helkala, E. L., … & Rauramaa, R. (2007). Serum high sensitivity C-reactive protein and cognitive function in elderly women. Age and Ageing, 36(4), 443-448.