How Do I Know If Inflammation Is Killing My Brain?

Inflammation Hurting Brain Health

People who struggle with memory loss probably don’t think their gut might be to blame.

But it could be.

The gut, or gastrointestinal tract, is home to trillions of microorganisms, both helpful and harmful, collectively known as the microbiome. This community of bugs plays a key role in the health of your brain: Its activities include protecting your gut lining and nutrient absorption, synthesizing vitamins and neurotransmitters, and helping manage immunity, appetite, and blood sugar levels.

When the harmful bugs outnumber the good ones, it can disrupt the gut lining, causing what’s known as a leaky gut, which can lead to chronic inflammation and a host of health problems, from seasonal allergies to autoimmune diseases and even Alzheimer’s.

Chronic inflammation is like a fire inside your body, an insidious, low-level burn that can damage your organs and your brain. Put out that fire and your overall health will improve and you’ll strengthen your memory.

That’s why inflammation is the third risk factor in the Amen Clinics’ new BRIGHT MINDS Program, which identifies and treats the 11 risk factors that can steal your memory and your mind. This approach has been shown to be the best way to keep your memory sharp—for life.

The risks are summed up in the words BRIGHT MINDS, which makes them easier to remember:

B – Blood Flow

R – Retirement/Aging

I – Inflammation

G – Genetics

H – Head Trauma

T – Toxins

M – Mental Health

I – Immunity/Infection Issues

N – Neurohormone Deficiencies

D – Diabesity

S – Sleep Issues

In addition to a leaky gut, other factors associated with chronic inflammation include:

  • Low omega-3 fatty acid intake
  • Gum (periodontal) disease
  • High levels of C-reactive protein (CRP; a measure of inflammation)
  • High levels of homocysteine (an amino acid associated with inflammation)
  • Infections

If you suspect chronic inflammation is a problem for you, be sure to include these laboratory tests at your next checkup with your health-care provider:

  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Homocysteine
  • Omega-3 Index (a measure of EPA and DHA in red blood cells)

Take these simple, smart steps to keep your gut happy and quench chronic inflammation throughout your body:

  • Brush your teeth after meals and floss daily
  • Take a daily multivitamin/mineral with extra vitamin D
  • Supplement with vitamins B6, B12 and folate if homocysteine is high
  • Boost your Omega-3 Index above 8 percent: Take a supplement with EPA/DHA and eat more walnuts, salmon, sardines, beef, avocado
  • Find and treat sources of inflammation, such as infections
  • Eat probiotic-rich foods to increase your healthy gut microorganisms: kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, miso soup, pickles, kombucha tea
  • Enjoy more high-fiber foods: artichokes, asparagus, beans, cabbage, chia seeds, root veggies like sweet potatoes, jicama and squashes
  • Limit trans fats, omega-6 rich foods (corn, soy, processed foods), sugar, gluten and processed meats

In this video, Dr. Daniel Amen discusses how your troubled gut could be hurting your brain and the steps you can take today to help prevent memory loss.

To learn more about Amen Clinics Memory Program based on Dr. Amen’s BRIGHT MINDS approach, check it out HERE. The breakthrough BRIGHT MINDS plan will help anyone who is struggling with brain fog and memory deficits.


  1. I have read and listened to Dr Amen for years and I have learned so much, but I have a question. I have a son with Bipolar disorder who uses substance abuse to calm his brain. He has no insurance but he is a brilliant 34 year who has difficulty succeeding because of lack of appropriate management of the disorder. Are there any funds or clinic programs in Dr. Amen’s Atlanta Clinic that could help him. I know a brain scan would be eye opening. Thank you for your response.

    Dr. Judy Gretz

    Comment by Dr. Judy Gretz — April 26, 2018 @ 12:05 AM

  2. I would like to hear your response to this as well. I have had diagnoses of bipolar 2, ADHD passive, generalized anxiety disorder and am actually a joyful, grateful, happy person with a great sense of humor when my brain is balanced. Two of my therapists have thought I was misdiagnosed on the bipolar 2. I live in a small campus town in Iowa and fit in many ways with a California environmental need.—will be wintering there this winter. Perhaps the hypomania is really viewed as too extreme eccentric for Iowa.

    I, too have long admired and respected Dr. Amen’s. I had the privilege of studying with him for 5 days at the New England Symposium on Cape Cod. Thank you for all.

    Comment by Andreya Kravitz — May 4, 2018 @ 4:38 AM

  3. The human mind has not even begun to be utilized to the full potential that is possible.
    Dr. Daniel Amen, has contributed very much to better understanding of our human minds.
    My dream is to see this information made more readily available, both in cost and available locations throughout the country, and possibly, around the world.

    Comment by Tom Reed — June 12, 2018 @ 5:02 PM

  4. I always learn something new from Dr. Amen. He is a gift to the medical community. 🙂

    Comment by Stefan Ryznyk — June 26, 2018 @ 11:41 AM

  5. I have the condition of ulcerative colitis. Want to see if Dr. Amen have some book for this . Thankyou. Ada

    Comment by Ada Trivisone — December 8, 2018 @ 8:05 AM

  6. I’ve been struggling for over 6 months from a seizure disorder from acute hypoxia from sleep apnea no the sleep apnea is under control but the seizures continue and all MRI and EEG’s have been normal. now working though anti seizure meds on round 3 Depakote praying 3rd one is the charm. My wife and I are at the same time moving to the clean eating. any ideas for us Doc?

    thanks Dan

    Comment by daniel streit — March 5, 2019 @ 10:06 AM

  7. I would love to read a blog on how allergies might affect the brain. I have many sensitivities and some allergies. My allergies give me hives. But in addition to the hives, my mood and concentration spiral out of control. I call it hives on my face and hives on my brain. Also, adding insult to injury. If I take an antihistamine to combat the allergic reaction, then my mood is further agitated.

    Comment by Stephanie Cooke — April 10, 2019 @ 9:47 AM

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