This Is Causing Brain Inflammation & Cognitive Decline! - How To Reverse It | Austin Perlmutter

Added: May 23, 2024

In this podcast episode, Mark Hyman and Austin Perlmutter discuss the topic of neuroinflammation and its impact on cognitive decline. Perlmutter highlights the connection between inflammation in the gut and the brain, emphasizing the bidirectional relationship between the two. He explains that chronic inflammation is a common underlying factor in many diseases, including mental health conditions like depression and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

Key takeaways


Neuroinflammation is a critical factor in cognitive decline and mental health conditions, with chronic inflammation being a common underlying cause of diseases like depression and Alzheimer's.


There is a bidirectional relationship between the gut and the brain, where inflammation in the gut can influence brain health and vice versa, highlighting the importance of gut health in mental well-being.


External factors, including marketing strategies and societal incentives, can negatively impact mental health by promoting unhealthy behaviors and dietary choices.


Lifestyle changes, particularly in diet and exercise, play a significant role in modulating inflammation and promoting brain health, emphasizing the need for preventive measures in mental health care.


The gut microbiome has a profound impact on brain health, with dietary interventions and gut health optimization showing potential in reducing neuroinflammation and improving mental health outcomes.

Understanding Neuroinflammation in the Brain

Neuroinflammation is defined as the activation of the immune system within the brain, leading to markers of inflammation. It can result from a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and the presence of immune cells, particularly microglial cells, in the brain. These microglial cells play a crucial role in modulating brain function and can influence the brain's inflammatory state. Perlmutter mentions that measuring brain inflammation is challenging and typically involves advanced imaging techniques like MRI or PET scans, as invasive procedures like brain biopsies are not practical in clinical settings.

Neuroinflammation and Mental Health

The conversation delves into the prevalence of neuroinflammation in modern society and its impact on mental health. Perlmutter highlights the high rates of depression and Alzheimer's disease worldwide and the limitations of conventional treatments in addressing these conditions. He emphasizes the importance of preventive measures for mental health, suggesting that optimizing mental health should be a priority to enhance overall quality of life.

External Factors and Mental Health

The discussion also touches on the role of external factors, such as marketing strategies by corporations, in influencing consumer behavior and potentially contributing to mental health issues. Perlmutter suggests that societal incentives may not align with promoting mental well-being, leading to a lack of focus on preventive strategies for mental health conditions.

Addressing Neuroinflammation Through Lifestyle Changes

Perlmutter explores the potential solutions for addressing neuroinflammation and improving brain health. He discusses the importance of lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, in modulating inflammation and promoting brain health. He emphasizes the need for a shift towards upstream thinking in mental health care, focusing on prevention rather than waiting for the development of diagnosable conditions.

The Gut-Brain Connection

The conversation also touches on the impact of the gut microbiome on mental health and the potential of dietary interventions to reduce inflammation and support brain health. Perlmutter highlights the need for a more comprehensive approach to mental health care that considers the interconnectedness of the body and brain.

The Impact of Chronic Inflammation

Perlmutter explains that the brain can be affected by various inputs, including food, air quality, and information consumed through the eyes and ears. He highlights the role of chronic inflammation in disrupting the communication between the prefrontal cortex and the more primitive parts of the brain, leading to impulsive and emotionally biased decision-making.

Intergenerational Effects of Inflammation

The conversation extends to the intergenerational effects of inflammation, particularly through maternal immune activation during pregnancy. Studies have shown a correlation between maternal inflammation and conditions like ADHD, autism, and schizophrenia in children. This highlights the long-term consequences of inflammatory lifestyles on future generations.

Advocating for Healthy Food Policies

Perlmutter critiques the notion of "everything in moderation" and advocate for policies that make healthy choices easier, such as clear food labeling and restrictions on junk food marketing. Hyman shares his efforts to promote food labeling reform in Washington to empower consumers with transparent information about the health impacts of their food choices.

The Influence of Advertising on Children's Diets

The conversation also touches on the influence of advertising, particularly in promoting unhealthy foods to children through colorful packaging and cartoon characters. Perlmutter highlights the importance of educating individuals about the consequences of their dietary decisions and creating environments that support healthy behaviors.

Unhealthy Food Culture in Washington

Hyman humorously reflects on the unhealthy food culture in Washington, attributing part of the dysfunction in policymaking to the prevalence of junk food in government buildings. He suggests that the poor dietary habits of decision-makers may contribute to their inflamed brains and emotional volatility, impacting their ability to make sound judgments. Perlmutter also discusses the prevalence of neuroinflammation in hospitals, where unhealthy food choices contribute to poor brain health among patients and staff.

The Gut-Brain Connection

The discussion then shifts to the gut-brain connection and the microbiome. Perlmutter shares insights on how the gut microbiome, with its trillions of microbes, influences brain health through various pathways, including the bloodstream and the vagus nerve. He explains how molecules from the gut, both beneficial and harmful, can impact brain function by crossing the blood-brain barrier and interacting with immune cells in the gut.

He references studies showing the link between gut health and behavior, citing examples of improved behavior in individuals after addressing gut issues. The conversation touches on the social transmission of microbes and how gut health can influence personality traits and interactions.

Interventions for Gut Health

The conversation continues with a discussion on potential interventions to optimize gut health and reduce neuroinflammation. Perlmutter suggests that addressing gut health through dietary changes and potentially fecal transplants could be beneficial in treating conditions like depression and obesity.

The Impact of Blood Sugar on Brain Function

Perlmutter continues by explaining the significance of blood sugar levels in relation to brain function. He mentions that extremely low blood sugar levels can lead to coma, while high levels are associated with altered mental states and delirium. He stresses the direct correlation between blood sugar and brain health, underscoring the need to address this issue for better cognitive outcomes.

The Role of Diet in Brain Health

The conversation then shifts towards the role of diet in promoting brain health. Perlmutter advocates for a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in plant-based foods, fish, and poultry, as the most effective way to prevent neuroinflammation and support cognitive function. He highlights the importance of consuming foods high in polyphenols, such as colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, which have anti-inflammatory properties and can positively impact brain health.

The Power of Psychobiotics and Personalized Nutrition

Furthermore, Perlmutter introduces the concept of psychobiotics, which are probiotics that influence mood, depression, anxiety, and sleep. He discusses the emerging field of personalized nutrition and the potential benefits of customized nutrient patterns for optimizing brain health. He also emphasizes the role of fiber in promoting a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential for overall well-being and immune function.

Immuno-Rejuvenating Foods at Big Bold Health

The conversation then delves into the innovative research being conducted at Big Bold Health, a company founded by Jeffrey Bland, focused on immuno-rejuvenating foods. Perlmutter highlights the unique properties of Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat, a plant grown in challenging conditions that produces high levels of polyphenols. He introduces a new product, Sprout Powder, derived from sprouted Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat, which offers a convenient and potent source of immune-boosting nutrients.

Perlmutter discusses ongoing research on the epigenetic effects of polyphenols from Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat, showing promising results in slowing immune system aging and potentially reversing biological aging. He emphasizes the transformative power of food as medicine, highlighting the importance of understanding how dietary choices can impact gene expression and immune function.

Proactive Lifestyle Modifications for Brain Health

In conclusion, Perlmutter stresses the importance of proactive lifestyle modifications for brain health, including proper nutrition, adequate sleep, stress management, exercise, and gut health. He encourages listeners to prioritize their brain health from a young age to prevent cognitive decline and neuroinflammatory conditions in the future. By making informed choices about diet and lifestyle, individuals can optimize their brain function and overall well-being.


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