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While you're providing your brain with the important things it needs, you also have to avoid giving it what it hates. And your brain absolutely despises inflammation. Inflammation appears to be the underlying condition associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease. All inflammation is ultimately caused by the increased production of “bad” eicosanoids. What's more, many of the proinflammatory cytokines (proteins produced by immune cells) lead to the production of more “bad” eicosanoids, and vice versa. So bad begets worse, and the inflammation cycle continues unabated.

The best way to stop this cycle is to produce high doses of fish oil to provide adequate levels of EPA. Not only will you choke off the production of “bad” eicosanoids (by decreasing the production of arachidonic acid), but you'll also decrease the production of inflammation-promoting cytokines. This is a real win-win situation for your brain.

Loss of Key Neurotransmitters

The second thing the brain hates is any loss of key neurotransmitters. Those are the chemicals that control the flow of information transfer from one nerve cell to the other as they cross the gap (synapse) between different nerve cells. Without adequate levels of neurotransmitters, information slows dramatically. Two of the most important neurotransmitters are serotonin and dopamine. Consider serotonin to be your stress-adaptation hormone and dopamine to be your action hormone. When serotonin levels are low, depression and violent or impulsive behavior become more likely. When dopamine levels are low, there's an increased likelihood of Parkinson's disease (decreased motor skills) or attention deficit disorder (decreased ability to focus on immediate tasks).

A multibillion-dollar drug market has been developed to provide a wide variety of pharmaceuticals that are intended to increase either serotonin or dopamine. Unfortunately, if a drug increases one of these neurotransmitters, it often depresses the other. There is, however, one natural “drug” that can increase both dopamine and serotonin simultaneously. That “drug” is high-dose fish oil. By taking high doses of fish oil, you can maintain adequate levels of both neurotransmitters.

Excess Cortisol

Your brain also detests excess cortisol ? the hormone your body releases in response to long-term stress. The more stress (which includes chronic pain or inflammation) you have in your life, the more cortisol is released to control it. Unfortunately, nothing kills brain cells (especially those in the hippocampus where memories are stored) faster than excess cortisol. Excess cortisol also inhibits short-term memory, like remembering where you put your keys.

My dietary recommendations reduce excessive cortisol production in two ways. First, EPA in fish oil decreases the production of arachidonic acid, which in turn decreases the production of “bad” eicosanoids. As the levels of “bad” eicosanoids decrease, the need for the body to produce cortisol decreases. Second, my dietary program stabilizes insulin levels, thus shutting down the need for the production of excess cortisol. Cortisol is sometimes released to stimulate the release of stored sugar into the blood when blood sugar levels dip too low. This occurs if you are not producing adequate levels of glucagon (the primary hormone to stimulate the release of stored carbohydrate), which can be suppressed by high levels of insulin. Although cortisol gives your brain what it needs for the moment (more blood sugar), you then have the problem of excess cortisol levels flowing through the bloodstream, causing damage to the memory center in the hippocampus in the brain.

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