- Do you forget people’s names and places you visited?
- Are you unable keep your mind focused on a single task?
Many people experience a decrease in their mental clarity as early as their 30’s and for others this problem becomes obvious during their mid 40’s.
Why is this happening to us and what can we do to be more focused and productive?
Because we live in a toxic world, our body is unable to recover fast enough from the toxicity cased by the chemically treated food and man-made environment. The most effective way to build a foundation for a healthy brain is with a diet and supplementation.
This article talks about powerful herbs and supplements you can incorporate into your diet in order to keep your brain young and healthy. Use them regularly to wipe away annoying and embarrassing moments that your age can put you through.
Did you know that your brain uses 20% of your body’s energy?
Because it constantly needs oxygen to function properly, it’s important to know that main sources of oxygen for your brain are your blood and inhalation.
Neurons are critical cellular components of your brain cells. They have receptors, which receive messages from neurotransmitters – chemicals in the brain that travel between cells. Neurotransmitters bind to neuron receptors in order to create specific brain activities.
Our emotions, diet and the immune system affect cell’s membranes every moment. Even a tiny change in the cell membrane design can have negative consequences on our ability of neurotransmitters to produce the desired effects and can ultimately cause illness.
The most commonly known neurotransmitters are Dopamine, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine. Too much or too little of these neurotransmitters can cause depression, anxiety or hyperactivity and eventually may lead to Alzheimers or Parkinsons disease.
BEST WAYS TO NOURISH YOUR BRAIN
Because your brain is the most vital organ of the body, nourishing it with ‘right food’ can help it serve you in old age as well as prevent Alzheimers and Parkinsons.
In order to absorb nutrients well and deliver them to the brain, your gastrointestinal tract and liver need to function correctly. These organs remove toxins from the body and maintain proper immune system activity. High quality organic food and specific supplements may help neurons to achieve the most desirable chemical balance naturally.
Because the brain cells are mostly composed of fat, eating the right kinds of fats are one of the most important parts in creating and maintaining brain health.
The List of Top 10 Healthy Fats
- Coconut oil
- Organic Butter and Ghee
- Animal fats (beef, duck, pork)
- Olive oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Walnut Oil
- Macadamia Nut Oil
- Sesame seed Oil
- Grape Seed Oil
- Egg Yolks
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 can help our brains. Primary sources of those Omega-3 fats are fatty cold-water fish such as mackerel, anchovies, salmon, sardines, and herring.
Omega 3 Rich Foods
- Chia Seeds
- Grass-fed Dairy
- Grass-fed beef
Omega-3 fats come in three main forms: DHA, EPA, and ALA. ALA is found in nuts, seeds, and animal foods like grass-fed beef and dairy. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish like mackerel and salmon. Most omega 3 benefits have been found in the amino acids EPA and DHA.
DHA is the primary structural fatty acid of the brain, which “promotes communication between brain cells and allows synapses to remain soft and functional.” DHA makes it possible for the chemical messages to be transmitted throughout the entire body. It helps the brain to maintain positive mood and memory.
In addition, “DHA helps to lower risk of heart disease when combined with a healthy lifestyle. DHA also helps to lower triglyceride levels, supports memory and eye health and helps reduce the risk for age-related vision problems.”
EPA is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid important for overall health. Unlike DHA, the body does not store EPA in significant quantities in the brain or retina. While DHA is found in every cell throughout the body, EPA is not.
ALA, an essential fatty acid (EFA), is a shorter-chain omega-3 that serves as a source of energy and as a building block for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA).
VITAMIN B COMPLEX
Your body requires B vitamins to produce many neurotransmitters. It protects nerve tissue against oxidation, enhancing memory and insulating nerve cells. B vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate (also called folic acid or folacin), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. The B vitamins work collectively and individually in every cell to perform many important functions, including helping the body release the energy it gets from carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Thiamin helps to support your metabolism and regulate your appetite. Some of the best sources of thiamin are pork, ham, dark green leafy vegetables, whole-grains, wheat germ, green pea, lentils and nuts such as almonds and pecans. People need 1.1 – 1.2 milligrams of Thiamin daily.
Riboflavin helps to keep your skin healthy. Milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese are rich in riboflavin. Asparagus, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs also supply significant amounts of riboflavin. Try to consume 1.1 -1.3 milligrams of Riboflavin per day.
Niacin promotes healthy nerve function, benefits your cardiovascular system and aids in energy production. Chicken, turkey, salmon and other fish including canned tuna packed in water are all excellent natural sources of niacin. Legumes and nuts also supply good amounts. People need 14-16 milligrams of niacin daily.
Leafy greens such as spinach and turnip greens and other fresh fruits and vegetables are all excellent sources of folate. Take 400 micrograms of folate daily. It promotes red blood cell health and nervous system function.
Some of the best sources of vitamin B6 are poultry, seafood, bananas, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, and potatoes. Your diet should include 1.3 milligrams of B-6 daily to support new red blood cell growth. Of course, organic sources are best.
B-12 will boost red blood cell production and support your nervous system. Animal foods are the only natural source of vitamin B12, but many products, including soy products, are fortified with B12. Other good natural sources include shellfish, such as clams, mussels and crab, fin fish and beef. You need only a small amount of B-12 – 2.4 micrograms daily.
Biotin and Pantothenic Acid
Biotin is a nutrient needed for a healthy metabolism. Liver, Salmon, pork, avocado and egg yolks are the richest dietary sources of biotin. Most fruits and vegetables contain a little biotin, as do cheeses and grains.
Yogurt and avocado are both excellent sources of pantothenic acid, a vitamin needed for enzyme function. It is also available in legumes including lentils and split peas, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and broccoli.
TOP TEN BRAIN SUPPORTING SUBSTANCES
Phosphatidylserine is a major building block for brain membranes. It is proven to boost energetic and electrical activity across the entire brain. The body can make phosphatidylserine, but we get most of what we need from foods. Phosphatidylserine supplements are commonly manufactured from cabbage or soy.
Phosphatidylserine is used to improve age-related decline in mental function, treat Alzheimer’s disease, improve thinking skills in young people, depression, ADHD, prevent exercise-induced stress, and improve athletic performance.
If you want to improve your brain function, include the amino acid L-Tyrosine into your diet. This amino acid is found in protein-rich foods. In addition, add L-Tryptophan, an amino acid whose relaxing effects are strengthened by carbohydrates.
Researchers are finding that L-Glutamine plays a critical role in brain function and healthy digestion. It is used as an energy source by the brain and is converted into glutamic acid, essential for cerebral function.
It has been shown in studies to “protect against mucosal breakdown in the gut.” “Glutamine can fight against bad gut flora, keep the epithelial cells from dying, and support the immune system’s ability to fight viruses and bacteria.”
Based on research and real-world application and to improve the leaky-gut condition, “the dosage you can take to build up to is 10g to 40g a day.”
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid that is “naturally produced in the body.” It is used for a variety of mental disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, age-related memory loss, late-life depression, thinking problems related to alcoholism and Lyme disease. This amino acid helps the body produce energy.
It is also used for Down’s syndrome, poor circulation in the brain, cataracts, nerve pain due to diabetes, nerve pain due to drugs used in the treatment of AIDS, and facial paralysis. It is also important for heart and brain function, muscle movement, and many other body processes.
Huperzine A is a substance extracted from a plant called Chinese club moss. It is used for Alzheimer’s disease, memory and learning enhancement, and age-related memory impairment. It is also used for treating a muscle disease called myasthenia gravis, for increasing alertness and energy, and for protecting against agents that damage the nerves such as nerve gases.
“This a highly purified substance… has been used for centuries to restore memory, treat muscular disorders and protect against the damages associated with chemical poisoning.“
Huperzine A is thought to be beneficial for problems with memory, loss of mental abilities (dementia) because it causes an increase in the levels of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is one of the chemicals that our nerves use to communicate in the brain, muscles, and other areas.
Periwinkle is an herb used for “brain health”. It increases blood circulation in the brain, supports brain metabolism, increases mental productivity, preventing memory and concentration problems and feebleness, improves memory and thinking ability, and preventing early aging of brain cells.
Periwinkle is also used for treating diarrhea, vaginal discharge, throat ailments, tonsillitis, chest pain, high blood pressure, sore throat, intestinal pain and swelling, toothache, and water retention. It is also used for promoting wound healing, improving the way the immune system defends the body, and for blood-purification.
A chemical in periwinkle called vincamine can be converted in the laboratory to the compound vinpocetine, which can be taken as a dietary supplement.
D- and L-Phenylalanine
LPA is an essential amino acid used by the body to create a number of vital chemicals, including adrenalin, I dopamine, norepinephrine, and thyroid hormone. DPA has twice the endorphinase inhibitory effect of DLPA, while DLPA is more energizing.
For anxious or agitated people, DLPA can sometimes be overly stimulating, while more mood-stable people find it to be both pain-relieving and energy-enhancing. The recommended DLPA dose is 1000-2000mg three times a day. As per Julia Ross, Author of The Mood Cure, people with extremely high blood pressure, malignant melanoma, Grave’s disease, constant migraine, or phenylketonuria should avoid DLPA.
Coenzyme Q10 plays a critical role in the production of energy in every cell of the body. It increases oxygenation of tissue in the brain. Several diseases are associated with low COQ10 levels, including fibromyalgia and the aftermath of a heart attack, known as post-myocardial infarction. Depression, Prader-Willi syndrome, male infertility, Peyronie’s disease, migraines, and Parkinson’s also caused by COQ10 deficiency. Supplementation of COQ10 is recommended to anyone with the listed diseases, but particularly for heart attack victims and people suffering from fibromyalgia.
COQ10 can also enhance blood flow and protect the blood vessels. This mechanism is related to nitric oxide preservation, as seen with Grape Seed Extract, Pycnogenol, and Resveratrol. COQ10 can reduce the damage oxidized Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) can do to blood vessels, as well as reduce plaque buildup in the arteries.
Ginko Biloba is an herb which increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain. This herb is known for its ability to increase vascular dilation and improve health of blood vessels. This means it supports brain activity, development, detoxifying mechanisms and immune function. Many of ginkgo’s benefits are related to brain function like focus, memory and mental performance.
Gotu Kola is an herb which energizes the brain and increases alertness. It’s a great replacement for coffee drinkers. Gotu kola has been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac. It may be useful in treating wounds, varicose veins, skin disorders, blood flow problems, and to enhance memory, although there is little clinical information to support these claims. In Europe, an infusion of the aerial parts of the plant was used to purify the blood and treat wounds, ulcers, skin inflammation, and hypertension. You should avoid use this herb if you are hypersensitive to any of the ingredients of gotu kola.
WHAT ABOUT ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE?
Caffeine can improve mental alertness, but it can create addiction, negatively impact sleep, and disturb adrenal function. It can leave you with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as stress, anxiety and irritability, and can be detrimental to overall health.
Alcohol slows brain function and should be avoided if high mental performance or concentration is your goal.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Start out the day with a meal that is high in fat and protein and low in carbs and sugar. This will help you achieve peak mental performance during the day. Eat protein and healthy fats in the morning such as eggs, avocado and coconut oil.
Practice relaxation, meditation, yoga and breathing exercises to help your brain regenerate and invigorate your mental state. Remember, oxygen is food for your brain.
The way you eat can help you be more intelligent, alert and successful in mental activities, and can also help you be more balanced and relaxed.
- Essential fatty acids, DHA and human brain
- Dietary (n-3) Fatty Acids and Brain Development
- Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses